July 19th, 2017 - Wednesday
After a long flight from Miami to Manaus, we boarded a bus to meet the river boat. We unloaded all of our supplies and backpacks as we headed to our cabins. The cabins had air conditioning, which was a nice relief from the intense Manaus heat. The boat travelled all night as we finished dinner, and rested from the long day. The next day was going to be a flurry of activity as some of us prepared to begin the construction project at Sao Sebastian.
July 20th, 2017 - Thursday
A nice cup of coffee early in the morning started the day as the sun crept up and over the boat. The river was fast moving and full of ultra-fast express boats and barges making their way down or up river. We watched dolphins jump in the water, all too quick for the camera. Lunch was refreshing, and we were educated by Earl on the history of the Amazonas, the purpose of our trip, and general phrases we would need to know. Medical supplies were sorted into containers for the journey.
Three of us (Myself, Jim and Clay) would disembark at Sao Sebastian. Cesar, who worked on the boat, would also join us. Clay and I did not know what to expect – it was our first time on the boat. We packed our backpacks and disembarked at what seemed to be a lonely, quiet town. The worn metal city sign loomed over us, but greeted us with Bem Vindo (Welcome) as we walked in the hot sun towards the town center. A three wheel scooter picked us up and drove us to the home which we would be staying in. Once settled, we surveyed the project.
The unfinished concrete building, set to be a training center, sat in the blazing sun. All of the support beams would need placed and welded, and roof panels screwed down. Electrical wires and fixtures would need installed, and the power main established. The evening finished with a nice dinner and the promise to begin early the next day. We attended a Thursday evening church service where we met many people involved in CBM.
July 21st, 2017 - Friday
The welding started early, and all four welders took turns in the heat working on the support beams. I spent a good deal of time removing safety hazards and cleaning the job site, and taking numerous photos. A clean jobsite is a happy job site. We took breaks and hydrated as much as possible. Snacks, including fresh bakery bread and juice were readily available. Lunch and dinner were delicious, and we relaxed as the sun went down.
July 22nd, 2017 – Saturday
We awoke with coffee and watched the packaging of fresh lettuce and vegetables from the greenhouse. Work started early as there was much welding to be completed. The welders fought the heat as the sky welding began – very high, and very hot work. Gemba (the dog) and Santana kept a watchful eye on us from a distance. Siesta was much appreciated, and the welding continued late into the afternoon. That evening, we were offered the chance to go look for alligators. A quick scooter trip, a lot of insect repellent later, and we were off to the river. We saw many alligators, owls, and birds. The night sky was amazing, and the milky-way clearly visible. Exhausted, we walked back to the house and rested for the next day.
July 23rd, 2017 – Sunday
We woke early and attended the church service. Many kids were in attendance, and candy was given to those who behaved. We listened carefully but did not know much of what was being said. After church, we walked around the town with a local CBM guide. We saw a monkey, many chickens, guineas and tortoises. A barbeque was prepared for us of chicken, steak, and sausage. We took a walk into town and got a few cold drinks along with ice cream. Fishing was next, as we headed to go find bait. We caught some smaller fish first, and then headed out onto the river. We did not catch anything, too many dolphins eating all of the fish, and the water was quite high. We heard alligators and monkeys in the distance, and the experience was fantastic.
July 24th, 2017 – Monday
The welding finished up early, and we worked on setting up for the roofing project. Rain delayed the construction some, as well as a slight supply shortage, but everything picked up in the afternoon as the roof construction moved ahead.
July 25th, 2017 – Tuesday
Electrical work began as the roof was finished – finally, shade to work under. We ran wiring through the concrete walls that had conduit installed, and light fixtures were wired throughout the building. We had another chance to go fishing – more prepared this time with better bait, and better line. We fished and fished but caught nothing. Monkeys made a ton of noise and crashed through the jungle behind us, but we did not see them. I attempted to catch piranha after I tired of them taking my bait, but did not have any luck. Maybe next time! At the house, we helped prepare homemade pizzas, and then drifted off to sleep.
July 26th, 2017 – Wednesday
With the training center project complete, we wanted to explore town. We assisted with the cleaning of the home outside, and even Gemba got a bath in preparation for our departure. We walked about 10,000 steps that day, and visited many shops. Ice cream was found, and the coconut popsicles were delicious. We talked to locals, and had success communicating in general. The boat arrived, and we quickly loaded up and went to spend the night on the boat.
July 27th, 2017 – Thursday
After a visit back to the greenhouse and completed training center, we walked back to the boat and took off towards Manaus. The trip was relaxing and we spent a great deal of time on the upper deck of the boat in hammocks, taking photos as we cruised along.
July 28th, 2017 – Friday
Breakfast, and then off to shopping in Manaus. Later, there will be a barbeque on the beach with some swimming, then load up and head to the airport. Overall, the trip was a fantastic and insightful experience.