Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Report From The Amazon Basin

      Our Minister of Latin American Affairs has returned from his exploratory trip into the Amazon Basin.  He is unscathed by the rigors of the trip.   He had a very successful experience, accomplishing all his goals.   His itinerary was carefully arranged for maximum area coverage in the time allotted. 
      He flew into Manaus, the largest city in the region.   It is still used today as the gateway to the Amazon Basin, as it has for over 100 years.   It is also the last port on the river that is accessible by ocean-going ships.  This is known as the break point for shipping goods and materials to and from the area.   The airport is large and can accommodate most modern aircraft.
      His impressions of Manaus indicate that the past struggles to make the leap to the 21st century.  Time has long passed when Manaus was the hub of the rubber industry that needed raw material to make the tires necessary for the expanding automobile industry in the US and Europe.   The oft-mentioned Opera House remains intact, but not much else has been added to the building inventory worthy of consideration.   In other words, Manaus remains a backwater for Brazil.
      The day after arrival, our Minister was transported by van for 2 hours west of the city.  Following the ride, his party boarded watercraft to be taken farther west, or up river.  By midafternoon, they arrived at the lodge/camp that would be home for the next few days.  They were greeted by their guide who is a member of a local indigenous tribe.   The 30-something individual spoke excellent Portuguese, and French, and Greek??   His was a most interesting story.   His father is a Greek anthropologist who had spent time exploring the deepest pats of the Amazon forest.  He met a local indigenous woman and then married her.   As local customs dictate, he was/is now a member of her tribe.   He did not return to Greece for many years, deciding that life among the tribal families was acceptable.   Years later, long after the Greek government gave him up for dead or lost,  information was sent to the Greek Embassy in Brasilia, advising them of his situation: living among the natives.  He decided to return to Greece to confront his relatives/family.   After a time, he decided that modern Greece was too modern, and he has returned to the Amazon to live out his years. He is now over 100 years old.
      His son, the guide, has served in the Brazilian Army, as a guide and interpreter.  This is part of the effort by the federal government to push more integration by local indigenous tribes into the national community.   After his 3 years of service, he has returned to his community and serves visitors with his expertise on the environment, the flora and fauna of the Amazon, and assists government researchers in their quest for more understanding of the transformation of the region brought on by development and encroaching civilization.
      Our minister slept in a hammock, and enjoyed the mosquito-free conditions.   He ate local food and was able to see certain conditions of the forest that he had only read about.  This trip has whetted his appetite for more and he plans to return again sometime during the Brazilian winter, which begins----TODAY!
Happy winter.

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