Today is Friday and I need to write about Thursday what happened yesterday?
I have no idea, other than I woke up well, I woke up very well.
I remember, a morning of yet more frustration for Pete and Dan, the new big cheese at Cine Marrocs had failed to gather the group of 20 people promised for the workshop. This seemed like a disaster, he appeared disinterested defensive and hostile however he gave his word that there would be a group at 3pm. Hmmm.
It transpired that Vale, the developers, ran in the week before our arrival a programme of music workshops led by high profile Brazilian artists. Vale, apparently THE WORST multinational in the world is very powerful in this region and investing huge sums of money in schools and in all kinds of cultural projects. The public sector is completely under resourced and Vale appears to be filling in the gaps and eroding resistance to its development plans, plans that will have disastrous consequences for the region, the Amazon and ultimately the world. People don't want Vale but people need Vale and where there is money there is confusion. Its influence is everywhere.
We fled on orange moto taxis and took a death-defying ride to the Casa de Cultura an amazing, interesting centre in Nova Maraba. We met the director, Noah, who 28 years ago before the first hydro- electric dam was built sailed a boat around the region. On this odyssey he documented the flora, fauna and indigenous peoples living on this network of rivers. A passionate, political environmentalist and ecologist he explained that he came to Maraba from the south to make a new life following several spells in prison under the dictatorship. He established the Casa de Cultura in 1986 and unusually has retained his position and maintained independence. The work of the organisation is to document, preserve and promote the history, the ecology and the archaeology of the region and to raise awareness of the devastation to come. It also houses a wonderful music school, library and research facilities.
(This was the exhibition about the current destruction of indigenous lands)
He was very welcoming and enthusiastic and introduced us to his teaching staff invited us to return today. Maybe Pete should write about this session. It was very very special and musically exciting.
Uplifted and inspired we left the complex with James a 73 - year old keyboard teacher from Missouri, a missionary, he has lived in Brazil for 38 years "preaching the word of God”. That is another story here.
We hop on a bus and wilting in the heat, head back to the old city. The distance between the two as between Lancaster and Morecambe is small but also very large and not only in miles.
People are very curious; we are indeed a strange looking trio. We are pale and look quite different to everyone else, particularly Pete and Dan both fair, blue eyed and have little hair, and they are also very tall by comparison. It is strange to be the object of so much attention and people are eager to talk yet, conversations with fellow passengers who find my Portuguese incomprehensible soon disintegrate into hoots of laughter. Must try harder!
Pete and Dan head back to Cine Marrocs and they are rewarded by a short and rewarding session with some young novice musicians. Hurrah, faith is restored, for now.
We end the day with a stroll along the river and talk and talk, and talk. We feast on pizza and a glass of cachasa