Boats and lives

I am again inside of a boat. This time I am going to Belem. There is so much I have learned in the other boat. That time I spent 8 days in the river Solimoes. That boat was destined to go to the triple frontier. So I was briefly in Colombia.

I flew back to Manaus, and ironically I could see more of the amazon from a plane than from inside of the Amazon itself. I guess we can always see better things from a distance :).

My first boat was a boat that carried goods. It was huge, there I met Mr. Manuel who taught me so much. Not only he was 70 and his whole family were boat people, but he had also taken J. Cousteau in the eighties through the amazon.

He taught me about the trees in the Amazon, the rivers, the people, his life and he even told me that BR 174, the road that links Manaus to Venezuela was built by the Brazilian army which was composed by many indigenous people. In this construction part of two indigenous groups, the Waimiri and the Atroari were killed.

There is so much that I have learned there that I thought this boat here (where I am in now) was kind of boring. The first boat brought it all to those who lived in the small villages of the state of Amazonas. Those villages are basically separated from the rest of Brazil. This boat here, where I am in now, goes the other way, it returns to the northeast of Brazil. It is a boat mainly destined to the transportation of people. Apparently, when it returns to manaus it also brings goods back.

Of course, my dislike of this boat was entirely deconstructed by the fact that next to me is a Cuban who had escaped his country and had an amazing story to tell about his life. To my other side is a man who works for Belo Monte, the huge hydroelectric that is being built here.

I hate Belo Monte for all that it represents, the destruction of the Amazon, its animals and its indigenous peoples. But I kept quiet as I heard the tale of a man who can’t find a job anywhere else.

I heard in details what Altamira was like. He called it “an eldorado”. A world in itself. Brazilians are so opened in explaining how their marriages have collapsed, how much they look for a new family that I could write several books by now.

Sometimes I feel they are very lonely and that they do not have who to tell these stories to. So, I hear quietly the tale of a man who was abandoned by his wife, and who now searches a new life in Belo Monte.

To the other side there are evangelic women who have been to Israel in a religious trip. They are kind, and have taught me a lot about the bible.

I go up to meet my captain. He is friendly, young an beautiful. We are in the Rio Amazonas. First I miss mr. Manuel who was so knowledgeable. Only till I go down to go out in our first stop. There are not that many things to deliver, nor anyone leaving the boat. But I go down anyway to buy fruits.

My new captain comes down and explains me a lot of things. He offers me Biju a cracker made of some kind of cassava, and nuts that is typical from here. I find it nice since it is quite salty.

Then I make a new young friend. She is 18 and and she has a two year old daughter. Her own mom is in the boat and is pregnant of her 4th husband. I understand everyday a little more how sexuality is active in this part of Brazil. I also understand how much the evangelic church is growing.

The boat stops again. Now there are nuts coming in. I go down to observe. The “policia Federal” is there. I watch for a while and eventually go up to a policemen to ask him why are they here for.

This beautiful policemen, is polite, and explains to me that through the rio amazonas comes lots of drugs. I ask him where is it that cocaine is produced. He tells me it is inside of peoples houses.

And so I meat Mr. Antonio. He is older and used to be the captain of this boat. He is about to retire. He explains loads of things. For instance, that the factories are in the middle of the amazon. He tells me so much in details. He is also part of the evangelic church. He reminds me of Mr. Manuel.

I write little because lately I live more. There is so much to tell but I guess now is time to eat. I already like this new boat.

I can’t forget to tell one thing. I met a 54 year old man who is going to Santarem to put the ashes of his wife there.

She died when she was 47. She had Lupus. He explains to me that this was her last wish. He tells me about his whole life , how it had been to have been married to a woman that had an autoimmune disease. How many years he had passed time going to hospitals. I am so moved hearing him speak. I recollect myself and ask.

“Had you known she would get sick would you have not married her?”

He knows I had been sick and is not offended by my question. He looks at me and says

“Of course not. I knew very early on she was sick. I have been with her through it all. I would not have changed anything at all. I miss her every single day. I do not regret a single moment. I love her.”


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