We left Macapa dripping sweat in 30 degrees, humidity must be near 100%. We have a dinner date in Calcoene about 350 km away and pleasantly surprised by the road having seal all the way, with only occasional works throwing us into the red dust.
Our host Mickie, seems to be community central in this town with lots of kids and youth hanging out. We are treated to a great chicken meal, but quickly see that as guests we are fed first and should realise there are lots waiting for us to pat our full tummy and let them have the remaining food.
The town is a series of red dirt streets and it must be chaos in the wet season. But for now the locals laze in the heat and pull a fish from the river or food from the trees and palms when hungry. This has always been the traditional way up here. Regular paying work is a very foreign concept. The kid’s favourite food is monkey and some of them had baby ones for pets. Also Acai was a favourite food. We’d bought some Acai drink – a smoothie made from the fruit of the palm tree on the ferry across the Amazon delta, it tasted like a thick puree of unripe avocado and often locals mixed it with sugar. It dyed my mouth and hands black and thankfully didn’t cause any tummy problems.
Humidity and heat is constant so the basic houses need a roof for the wet but walls are optional. The children couldn’t understand that we went to bed with blankets and had walls. They had no idea of what being cold would be like, and no one could understand the concept of a heater.
I was told the children all attend school, the parents make them – as they get payments based on school attendance. This is the Brazilian government’s attempt to get the indigenous Indian population assimilated with the rest of the successful economy. The folk up here have quite small families with the average woman having only two children.