February 3, 2012
Hoy- (Portuguese for “Hello”… look at me now!)
I just got back from some of the most incredible and exhausting four days in my life. The Amazon was breathtakingly beautiful…the kind of beauty that takes your breathe away and forces you to stand in awe of Gods masterpiece. I spent my morning and evenings swaying back and forth in my hammock, marveling at the Amazon River, rainforest and striking sky. The Amazon rainforest is officially the best background noise (ever).
Our wonderful guide, Anunji, has spent his whole life in the Amazon exploring, searching, and learning from all it has to offer. Him and his beautiful wife and two children put up with 42 high maintenance Americans for four days and eagerly shared with us all they had to offer. Anunji was a true Amazonian… He caught Caymans barehanded, traveled in the rainforest without shoes, and even caught multiple piranhas using a simple piece of string. Needless to say, I completely trusted him when he grabbed his machete, started clearing a path, and guided us all through the rainforest at night to set up our hammocks. It is pretty safe to say that most of my fears have been washed away after this trip.
We spent our days trying to explore as much as possible—piranha fishing, swimming with local pink dolphins (in piranha infested waters… eeek!), hiking, eating delicious Brazilian food, spraying ourselves with deet… over and over again, going Cayman (alligator) spotting and sleeping in the rainforest… without mosquito nets…tied to a tree in a hammock. Oh- and did I mention not showering for four days? I’ll spare you that visual… along with getting sick the second day (no worries M&D I’m ok).
However, above everything my most cherished memories are the times spent with others. We were able to visit an indigenous village of just 120 people and play soccer with them and also attend an indigenous tribal ceremony this morning. The whole community (babies included) covered themselves in leaf and mud coverings and showed us an abbreviated version of what usually is a 24-hour-long ceremony. At the end of the ceremony the community members took all of our hands and had us dance and sing along with them. They were some of the most stunning and intriguing people I’ve ever seen in my life.
During our voyage we have been discussing Jamaica Kincaid’s book A Small Place, in which she (a local Antiguan woman) discusses the annoyance of tourism and the necessity to divulge oneself into each culture and become a traveler. The book was maddening at times, but convicting as well. At times it is nearly impossible to avoid being a tourist because of the attractions we all want to see, but I am also striving to go beyond the tourist cites at each port and spend time with local people as much as possible— getting to know them, their culture, and their unique and individual life story.
Our next stop (in about nine days) is Ghana. I will spend my time there doing a number of things, but I am most excited about spending four days with a local family. I can’t write this without giving a shout out to the best parents for giving me one of the greatest gifts ever… the world. Love you mom and dad! Can’t wait to see you guys in China.
Lots of love from the beautiful Amazon-
**Blog post retrieved with permission at http://chelcieatsea.tumblr.com