Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Congratulations Shane and Kristi

It's Wednesday and we are back in town today. That means we have a couple of hours of air conditioning and wireless internet. We appreciate the air conditioning the most. This morning we left the base at 7:30 am for a 30 minute the boat ride, then had an hour drive in the 4 door truck across the city to go to the Zoo. We got a good look at some animals that we hope not to see too close in the jungle; monkeys, jaguars, snakes, tapirs. And some animals we would like to see a little closer; eagles, parrots and turtles. It was starting to get hot by the time we left.

Next we did some walking, shopping, dodging cars, trucks and people. The sidewalks are narrow and very uneven and broken in places. I keep busy just trying to keep track of the person leading and watching that I don't trip on anything. Cindy was great helping us dicker with the shop keepers for the things we bought. Then we walked and sweat all the way to the air conditioned restaurant, where we met up with Fred and Phil for lunch.

The food here is wonderful. Today for lunch I had chicken breast, turkey wrapped in bacon, and pressed cottage cheese barbecued over a flame. I also had a little potato salad, green beans, pickled beets, coleslaw, rice and beans, tiny hard boiled quail eggs and some great tasting salsa. They weighted our plate and we paid by the gram. It was about $6.00, plus the couple of bottles of water that I drank. After about 30 minutes in the restaurant, eating and drinking, I started feeling like I might make it through the rest of the day.

We have fruit here every day. Some we buy and some we pick off trees around the base. The pineapple is sweet and mild and `mango melts in you mouth. This morning for breakfast we had the best papaya I have ever eaten. We have had at least 3 different kinds of banana's, all sweeter and smaller than the US. We have been making fresh juice out of passion fruit, star fruit, koopasu (sp?), lemon, orange, lime and some other fruits I don't remember. Will have to get that from Phil and Cindy before we leave.

Right now Phil, Cindy, Chuck and Laurel are out trying to buy a wireless portable internet modem so that they can have better internet access at their home on the base. That will be so great for them as all they have now is shared dial-up access. We will all be greatfull if they can get it today.

For the next hour or so Carrie, Fred and I are staying here at the mission head quarters in a guest room with air conditioning. Fred is napping. Carrie and I are banging on our computers trying to give all of you something interesting to read.

Congratulations Shane and Kristi! Sunday, February 15, we were blessed with another grandson. Seth Jacob Lambing. We have not talked to be Shane and Kristi yet, but did talk to Fred's Mother Joy and got the news. He was born on Joy's birthday. Please check their blog for the details. Shane and Kristi we love you and are so proud of you and the parents you have become.

Yesterday morning Phil and Cindy took us out on the "launch", the base passenger boat, for a pleasure ride around the local area. It was a beautiful day for it with the sky a little over cast and only one short rain shower. The Amazon is about 3 miles accross to a long series of islands in the middle. When I asked Phil how far it was to the other side from the islands he said that he didn't know because he had never been there. Amazing, he has lived here about 40 years and he has never been all the way across. The river really does divide the country. People travel next to the shore up and down their side of the river.

We traveled up the river toward Manaus and then across and along the islands. On the island side we saw a lot of farming and cattle. It looks much more prosperous than on our side of the river. They say the soil on this side is not as good. It is a lot of clay and sand and does not grow things as well. I saw some black cattle.....they didn't really look like angus, but they were black. I saw a couple of monkeys in a tree next to the river too. The trees had been cleared some for farming and cattle. On our side of the river it is all jungle.

This is the rainy season here. The river has risen at least 3 feet since we arrived about 10 days ago. It will continue to rise until about the middle of June. Then the rains will stop and it will get hot and dry and the river will start to go down. Our seasons revolve around the daylight in Alaska. Here the seasons revolve around the rain and the river. The sun sets about 6pm every evening and rises about 6am every morning all year long.

Our typical day goes like this. Phil starts the generator at 6 or 6:30am, depending on the day. At about 7am we start showing up to enjoy a self serve breakfast of eggs, toast, lots of fruit and/or oatmeal. Actually Cindy says it's a self serve breakfast, but she is usually standing there serving us. Over breakfast everyone decides what they are going to do for the day. Cindy starts some laundry, we have sweaty clothes at the end of every day. If it is sunny we hang the cloths on the big lines out front. If we are not so sure we hang them on the lines under the large roof eaves of the house.

By noon Cindy has made our main meal of the day. This usually includes some kind of fresh home made bread and fresh veggies in a salad, plus a meat and rice or potatoes. Most days she even has some kind of dessert; cookies, pie, shakes, or chocolate bar. We are all ready to take her menues home and use them. We may put together a cookbook of the meals we have eaten here. We can't match the fresh fruit here.

We get real hot and sticky in the afternoon, unless it rains. When it rains, it literally pours. It is amazing. You can't here yourself think let alone talk to anyone when the rain is pounding on the tin roof. Everyone starts slowing down about 5pm. We try to get our showers taken and change into clean dry cloths for the evening before supper. We eat a light supper at about 6:30pm and then play games, read or just visit. At 9:30pm the generator is turned off for the night. We all try and be in our rooms by then. Quite often we finish our game by flash light and then head next door.

One night last week Fred and I saw a huge tarantella on the wall just outside of the door to our house. We both jumped. I was going to go back and warn Chuck and Laurel, but Fred said, "No, I'm sure they will find it." It wasn't long and they did. Since then we have found a couple of smaller ones inside the house.

I think that I told you we are staying in a guest house next door. Well we do not have any hot water in our place. The first day I went next door for a shower, but that is kind of a hastle. So I decided I was hot enough that I could handle a cold shower. First let me say the the water here is not as cold as it is at home in Alaska. After the first 10 seconds, the cold shower feels real good. It is kind of like when you first jump in the swimming pool. I have a whole new appreciation for a cool shower after living in the tropics for a couple weeks. Clean fresh dry cloths feel great. It isn't long before you feel yourself and your cloths beginning to wilt, literally.

Sorry this is such a long blog......
Just a reminder, check out Carrie's photo's.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Here We Are In Brazil

The last 24 hours before we left for Brazil was a little crazy. For one thing we found out the we were leaving 24 hours ahead for the original time we were to fly. One of the last things I was going to do was update my blog before I left.........didn't happen with the flight change. So I recommend that you always check Carrie's blog when you check ours. She has more updates than I do.

We arrived in Manaus, Brazil at about 12:30am on Sunday morning Feb. 8. It took us about an hour or so to get through customs and get our luggage. All the luggage was there, with one bag split open. I don't think we lost anything out of it.

Fred and I were the first to get through customs and get through the doorway were we expected to see Phil and Cindy. No one was there that we recognized. We laughed about how we had cut it close picking up people from the airport and maybe they were in the same boat. By the time Carrie, Chuck and Laurel were through the doorway they were smiling and waving. Yes, they were visiting with friends and the time had gotten away from them.

By the time we all loaded up in a 4 door pickup and drove across town another hour and a half had passed. Cindy called ahead on her cell phone for the boat to pick us up at an aviation mission post outside of town. It started raining as we loaded all our luggage on a long narrow boat with a little fiberglass roof that they call a canoe.

Someone pulled the rope on the outboard motor and we were off, down the Amazon river at about 2am with no lights on our boat and an overcast sky. It was amazing how well we could see the trees along the bank as we glided down the dark river. Most of the time we were in a channel between the mainland and an island. We could see the lights of homes scattered along the river. I kept asking myself "Are we really here....?"

Sooner than I expected, we broke out of the channel and there was the massive river that I had expected. The river is so huge that it makes you think that you are on the ocean, except there is no tide. In just a couple of minutes we were at the base and pulling up on shore. We unpacked the canoe in the rain and got all the baggage up to the house and sorted everything out, chatted a little bit and went to bed.

Laurel, Chuck, Fred and I are staying in the guest house right next door to Phil & Cindy's. Carrie is staying with them at their house. Sunday morning no one moved very fast. Fred and I got up just in time to go to the dining hall for lunch. My, did that ever take me back about 40 years, to all the meals I had while living in the dorm at boarding high school, Sunshine Bible Academy.

Monday-- we all moved pretty slow.
Tuesday-- we took a hike on some of the trails in the jungle near the base.
Wednesday-- I started making new curtains for their living room.
Thursday-- I spent time sewing again and Cindy and I had some great laughs playing Hand & Foot Canasta

Carrie has been busy teaching some photography class to the high school kids. Tomorrow she will teach one for adults. I may go to that one.

Fred has been doing a lot of reading and keeping track of the guys and their projects. Yesterday they worked on the launch (big passanger boat) and put it a couple of outdoor electrical plug-ins on their house plus, another outdoor light. Monday they went down river and worked on something. Over all Fred is continuing to improve. He is tolerating the heat better than I expected.

Today we all took the canoe to Manaus. It was great to see the trip in the day light. We went to the open market and did some shopping for fruit, veggies, fish. I am sure Carrie will have some good pictures to share with you from this morning. This afternoon we are at the mission house were we have Wifi and an airconditioned room to work from. It is great to have a hour or so of cool air.

The heat has not been as bad as I expected. This is the cool time of the year here. We have rain every day at least once and when it rains it downpours. The rainwater pours down the slope of the base to the river. We watch the the river rise more every day. We have seen a lot of awsome lightning storms and cloud formations.

One other little interesting note. The jungle is not quiet, especially at night. When it starts to get dark at night the real noise begins with toads and frogs crocking and some other animal making noises that sound like someone running a stick over notches on another hollow pipe. I can't remember all the sounds, but it is sooo noisy. In the day time we have loud birds and rubber nuts that explode and bang on the tin roof and sound like gun shots. We are right on the Amazon, which is like living right next to a busy highway with all kinds of boats: house boats, fishing boats, one man canoes, huge fuel barges, boats halling cattle from the interior, giant container ships, fast passenger ferries, slow passenger canoes, even a Princess Cruse Ship.

Today is day number 7. That means we have 14 days to go.

Thanks for everyone's prayers and support on this adventure.