By the time I emerged from my swinging pit, coffee was already on the table and pineapple had already been peeled and chopped. I fuelled my new caffeine and fruit addiction, picked at my new bites and became slightly concerned about the spreading rash on my back I’d been ignoring. Hmm. It wasn’t that big last night and as I’d lain in my hammock this morning willing my legs to get out of bed it felt like someone was underneath me poking me in the back with a stick. Ah well, nothing I could do about it right now. I continued ignoring it.
This morning we’d be visiting a local family to see how they live by the river, work their land and make their money. There would be no dressing them up in tribal gear and making them dance as the cynics would have you believe, they’re just an honest family making an honest living and getting a bit of extra cash by letting the tourists into their lives for an hour a day. The welcoming committee was a little pig who trotted up to find out who we were and spent its time alternating between rolling in mud and following us around. They had heaps of animals here; goats, ducks, dogs. They raise them and on special occasions they slaughter one for the table. Not the dogs though. Well, maybe, I didn’t actually ask…
They have heaps of cool stuff on their farm and here are more things I didn’t know; Pineapples grow on plants. Who fucking knew this is how pineapples grew? I mean, I couldn’t tell you how I thought they grew. On trees or something? I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it, but if I had I don’t think this is what I would have come up with. But yeah, plants. One at a time.
Georgia used to live in Hawaii and says that a pineapple plant will only produce three pineapples in its life. Alan told us that the ones grown here during the rainy season can’t be trusted to be good so they only use the ones grown in the dry season and fuck me backwards was it hot out there on the field! I’m guessing they pick them all by hand an all. Proper graft. I’ll never bitch about my job again… ok that’s a lie and we all know it but you know what I mean. They had plans to plant another 10,000 plants too.
Other new knowledge includes cashew fruits. Yep, fruits. When the nut grows, above it develops a fruit which you can eat or turn into juice. Who’d have thunk it? And if you boil cashew bark into a tea and drink it it stops the shits which is something I could have done with a week ago ay.
Another thing they do here is process manioc roots into flour which takes up to a week. I’m not gonna run through the process right now, mainly because I can’t remember it because I was too busy watching the pig and thinking I hadn’t had bacon for a while, but if you’ve ever set foot in Brazil you’d have come across this stuff. It’s pretty much on every table in every restaurant and is the main condiment in the country. If you just put it straight into your mouth its like trying to eat sand but lots of dishes have plenty of sauce for you to mix it with. The flour on it’s own is a yellow grainy thing called farinha but you mix it with a heap of other stuff to make it tasty and it becomes farofa.
I still can’t decide if I like it, it reminds me too much of cous cous which I really hate on account of the fact once you put it in your mouth it spreads everywhere and you can’t get it out again or swallow it entirely and this freaks me out. I can’t explain these weird issues I have but it’s along the same vein as my hatred of loose tea leaves in the sink or getting sand on me when I’m wet although I’m slowly training myself out of the latter on account of my increased exposure to beaches.
Once we’d pried into the lives of strangers and perused their homemade crafts we were back in the canoe and off to the lodge for our daily dose of rice, beans and over-salted meat. I had another go at fishing but I reckon they’d got wise to the fact we were putting hooks in their food so I got bored and went for a nap before the afternoon’s paddling.
Off we went towards the flooded forest before Alan switched the motor off and we paddled our way along the water, trying to be as quiet as we could. We saw heaps of cool stuff. Howler Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Cappuccino Monkeys, I saw a couple of them lizards that run across the surface of the water, loads of birds including an owl, and we saw a sloth perched right at the top of a tree. It was too high up to get down and maul but Alan whistled and made a noise like a Harpie Eagle so it’d lift its head and look around and wonder what the fuck was going on. Whilst we were watching a group of Howler Monkeys make their way through the trees, a tiny baby one lost its grip and fell god knows how far, 25 or 30 metres into the water. We paddled towards it but it got itself back up the tree as quickly as it had fallen in. Bless its little heart.
We also saw quite a few grey river dolphins working to round up a school of fish and a pink river dolphin which are harder to find because they’re usually alone or in couples. The grey ones are smaller than the ones you find in the ocean and they’ll jump and clear the water while they’re hunting but they won’t swim alongside the boat like their ocean counterparts and be all cute and stuff. Miserable buggers clearly don’t realise they’re there for our entertainment… I joke of course. Viewing nature is a privilege, not a right, as I’ve proved time and time again as I spend large portions of my time waiting for animals to show up.
The pink ones are much bigger and won’t jump. Their noses are longer and they don’t have the pointy dorsal fin, they have, like, a ridge along the top of their back. The glimpse we caught of them was too brief to get a photo though but it might have broken the lens. Let’s face it, they ain’t the most attractive of the dolphin family are they. Might have had a wee fall out of a tree of its own. The ugly tree. Hit a few branches on the way down an all by the looks of things.
After we’d stopped for a beer at a local store we meandered back whilst Alan showed us some spear fishing. Clearly a bit of a thing for him, he got really into it and caught quite a few fish. More stuff to cover in salt and serve with rice and beans. I’m all for eating according to the country I’m in but I gotta be honest, I could have killed for something with chips at that point.
In other news, I randomly thought I’d tell y’all the story of the Brazilian flag because I found it out the other day from Alan and wanted to appear knowledgeable on my blog. So the green is the forest, the yellow is the country’s riches and the blue is the sky. The band across the middle of the blue globe is the Equator and has “Ordem E Progresso” written across it which the national motto and was something to do with positivity, and the stars (which are arranged in constellations seen in the southern hemisphere) represent each state. Most of the stars are below the line but one is above it and that’s the state of Roraima on account of the fact its capital, Boa Vista, is the only capital in the country which is north of the Equator. See? Not just a pretty face, me.