Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Having to go through the process of repairing things again is almost unbearable. We had just finished getting Adamo into shipshape after two months of work. But, a look on the bright side, we can still keep moving while the autopilot is being repaired. It just means someone has to be sitting at the helm at all times which is tiring. Oh well, it is sailing after all.
In the meantime, Phillip is a happy camper since we have met back up with our friends on L'Aventura. They, too, have been doing a lot of work on their catamaran. Misery loves company! At least we can have fun in the interim. Cocktail hour is thriving in Trinidad.
We are contemplating our next move so stay tuned.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
At this point the trip was a success to me! But there is more. The chief came by the boat after seeing Danni's new motor. He wanted to trade a large pirogue for a 15 hp motor. I don't think he understood that we live on our boat and could never use a huge boat like that. We traded some ropes for his paddle instead. It is a great paddle, well broken in and large! So now I need to practice using the paddle in the canoe so I can get around as well as the Indians. On the way out of the river the people who said no to trading a canoe saw we had one and also saw the kayak. They most have been thinking what did they trade for it. Now I am sealing some small cracks that are customary in these canoes, these cracks are filled with tar. I will pick out the tar and fill it with wood filler. I look forward to bringing it back to the States to go kayaking with Doug and Gram.
We all knew that this would be an unforgettable experience and gladly accepted the invitation. In the late afternoon, we dinghied to the village and docked up at his house.
Word had gotten out in the village that we had printed photos of Danni's children for him. While our hosts were preparing dinner, a procession of children entered his hut, dressed in there finest clothes to have their picture taken. Over the course of our five day stay at the village, we printed over 75 pictures of children and families. It was a huge hit with the Indians and was a fantastic ice breaker for these quiet and reserved people. Kids and adults crowed around during picture time and then again the next day when we distributed them out. They analysed and discussed every photo with each other. Then as quickly as the crowd had gathered, it would disperse until the next photo op or picture delivery.
When dinner was ready, Danni offered us each a bowl filled with stewed cat fish, plantains and onions in a most tasty sauce, with a side of fresh flat bread that had just been prepared on his clay stove. We liked the bread so much that Susan got the recipe so that it can become part of our cooking repertoire.
Dinner was eaten sitting on the floor. The men and guests eat first. The guests each received their own bowl while Danni and his sons preferred to share out of a community bowl. Susan was the only one who got a spoon. Everyone else ate with their hands.
We communicated in our Tarzan Spanish using our dictionary and sign language. Despite the language barrier, we were able to converse about family, travels, culture etc... At night, power is provided by a generator (courtesy of Chavez). When the power can on, someone showed up with an electric keyboard and asked us to play. Sue and I played Heart and Soul as a duet. Then I played the little bit I could remember without having practiced in over a year. I don't think Mozart was too well received. Boogy woogy jazz seem to go over better.
The next evening, we cooked pancakes for the village on Danni's stove. I'm not to sure how well they were liked. But I did point out to Susan, that they ate them all and that the maple syrup was all gone. It must have been OK. We then brought the TV and DVD player from the boat and played a movie for them (Too Fast, Too Furious) The younger guys really liked that one. Sue sat with a group of kids and taught them some English. It was a wonderful time.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
We kissed Sue goodbye and with great anticipation boarded Danni’s 25 foot long, 3 foot wide pirogue.
The first thing you notice when you step on board a pirogue is how tippy the boat is. You just don’t hop on. You gently board, balancing yourself while others aboard counter balance your weight to keep it upright. Once seated, you don’t move around much, particularly underway.
Phil was seated on the bow facing aft. I was sitting on a wood plank facing forward. Danni put the engine in gear and we began puling away from the Adamo. We started slowly, then a little faster, then a little more and finally our guide opened her up all the way. We were zipping along at over 40 mph with an inch of gunwale between us and the river's surface. Phil was grinning ear to ear. This was definitely very, very cool.
After skimming along the water for 5 minutes we turned off of the main river into a side cano (a small creek leading into the jungle). Our first task of the day was to find monkeys. Having shut down the engine, Danni paddled quietly, deeper into the jungle.
We could hear monkeys chattering and cracking branches as they swung from tree to tree; but we did not get to see any that morning.
Next we were off to go piranha fishing. By now the sun was beating down again. When you are so close to the equator, you can feel the sun searing your skin. Two weeks ago, in Trinidad, we were as close as you can get to the sun. It was directly over head and it was HOT. Danni brought us to a shady spot along the edge of the river. A cool breeze kept us comfortable as we watched him catch one of the shrimp swimming in his bilge, hook it and toss his hand line in the murky water.
Within a minute, he pulled in a small catfish. He asked for our knife and filleted the finger sized fish into strips of bait. He handed us each a strip and began baiting his own hook. Phil and I followed his lead. We dropped our lines in, and before long we were pulling in red bellied and black bellied piranhas.
Here's the crazy part. You unhook them and drop them in the bilge to swim around your feet! Fresh water is always coming in the boat, so you are really sitting in a big, huge live well. Surprisingly, the fish were not as aggressive as you might imagine. They lay in the bilge without moving around too much.
Back at the Adamo, we cleaned the fish and pan fried them. The verdict? Piranhas are a tasty, mild fish, but quite bony. I think the Adamo crew will stick to larger, not so bony fish.
In the evening, Danni showed up again to go find some monkeys. I guess he won't quit until you get what you paid for. Sue joined us on this trip. It was fun to watch her as we took off in Danni's low-slung, go-fast boat. She looked like she was having a great time, but also had a look of disbelief that people zip around in these boats everywhere.
Our guide brought us into a different cano this time. As we penetrated deeper and deeper into the jungle, the now familiar sounds of monkeys in the distance, came upon us. This time however, an entire troop of capuchin monkeys, heading to their night-time resting spot, used the branches overhead as a bridge to cross the cano. Danni's persistence had paid off, as I am sure it had many times in the past.
As we approached the first Warrau village, we could see them running down their board walks to the canoes. By the time the Adamo was 200 yards from the village they were on there way to intercept us. We had been warned that the first few enclaves were not really interested in trading, rather they were looking for handouts from sailing vessels heading up river. It is tough to resist the cute little faces of small children hoping for some candy or treats. Before we knew it, we had handed out nearly half of our push-pop supply.
Trading or "cambio" is a major activity for Warrau Indians. They trade hand woven baskets and purses, beaded necklaces and bracelets, fresh fish, as well as cheaply carved balsa wood toy boats. In exchange, they receive food (milk, flower, rice, eggs), clothing, fabric, needles, thread, and medicine among other items.
We proceed on until we reached a split in the river. Along the left branch was a larger Indian village. The right branch was broad and split off into other tributaries. The depth in the split decreased to 15 feet. Perfect for anchoring.
It wasn't long before boats from the village began showing up to trade. The second boat to arrive had a friendly Indian, who spoke Spanish (most of the Indians only speak Warrau). Once he realised we were Americans, he handed us a piece of paper that had a hand written recommendation in English from a previous cruiser. The paper explained his name was Danni and he was the local guide. He could show us monkeys and caimons or take us piranha fishing. We used an English-Spanish dictionary to boost our virtually nonexistent Spanish language skills to communicate. In the end of the conversation we had agreed to go see monkeys and fish for piranhas in the morning, as well as recopy his recommendation on new paper, since his was falling apart.
The latter ultimately gave us an opportunity to really get to know the village. We didn't just recopy the text, rather we typed it up and included a photo of Danni at the top of the page. When he saw that he asked whether we could take pictures of his kids and print them. This lead to pictures of other kids etc... but more on that later.