We camped at a vacant riverside farm. Lovely place. The Rio Roosevelt wraps arounds an island here with rapids and big rock outcroppings on both sides. Hot day so were in and out of the water, frolicking in the swift current. The same pools produced our dinner — grilled pirahna laced with sliced lemon, compliments of s tree where we pitched our tents.
Over dinner we celebrated Ercilio’s 48th birthday. A fun-loving guy full of good cheer and playful antics, he’s also a fine chef and with his friend Jacinto looks after the camp kitchen. After his birthday dinner he entertained us with his “berimbau,” a long single-stringed instrument that resonates through a gourd. It is played with a stick and a stone, and produces a grand total of two notes. But we managed to share hours of American and Brazilian folk songs to the beat of that odd instrument.
Our paddle today took us through a large braided rapids. Running it proved a challenge for a few of our crew and we got separated amongst the braids. We awaited their arrival at a native farmstead below the rapids. The family offered us a basket of lemons and a rooster so we bought them with plans for a lemon chicken dinner. But when we continued our paddle the rooster perched himself on the stern of a canoe like a cackling stevadore and quickly became a source of team entertainment. He even gained a name: Salvador. You will be pleased to know that he’s now our official expedition mascot and is not destined for the cookpot.
Tonight we’re camped at a tiny native settlement above a mile-long stretch of roaring rapids. Our tents are set in a yard alongside the general store. Villagers come & go through the evening buying supplies or playing snooker on the veranda pool table. The kids are intrigued with our ipads and sat phone equipment. And Salvador is being challenged by the resident rooster. So we’ve found him a perch high above the chickens and guinea pigs scurrying about the grounds. Our team is enjoying a round of cold beers after a day in the scorching equatorial sun. Concerns about how we’ll negotiate this long stretch of rapids will have to wait till morning.