The sun set… (back in Dec)

Although I’m already back in Brazil (!), this story is from my expedition last December:

As the sun set, we were still making our way back to the boat after our first day of work.  Our group included seven fishermen, Fabio -the coordinator of the arapaima surveys, and me (the “gringo”).  As we walked through dense fields of grass taller than me, the swaying blades in the setting sun made me dizzy and faint.  We had only worked since lunchtime, but I was tired, hungry, and thirsty.  To make things worse, all the lakes we went to had little or no arapaima and I didn’t see any surface. 

Getting to the lake

Less than twelve hours later, we were back on the same trail before the sun rose.  I was exhausted and closed my eyes between steps to rest.   The trail was uneven- full of cow prints in mud hardened by the dry season.  After hiking we traveled by boat and then again by foot.  Our entire trip to the lake took more than four hours. 

Cow prints made the trail uneven

We surveyed the lake and, unlike the day before, saw many arapaima.  It turned out this lake was managed by the local community (three fishermen from that community were part of our team).  After we finished the survey, we returned the way we came.   We got back after 3pm- our trip to survey one lake took more than 10 hours.  It was at least a boost in moral to see the arapaima in the lake.

We were supposed to survey some more in the afternoon but because of some delays (i.e. the lakes we wanted to go to had no arapaima) we had a relaxed afternoon on the boat.  As the sun set that evening, the guys turned on the TV to watch a soap opera- it was hooked up to a satellite that required patience and repeated adjustment as the anchored boat rocked and swayed in the water.  I instead decided to sit on the roof of the boat and watch the sun set over the river.  It really never did get old.  As I sat, Lipe climbed up with a mischievous smile.  He’s always up to something so I asked him what he was doing.  He said he was just joining me.  So we talked- I don’t know if he understood me and he generally talked to fast for me to understand…  Another fisherman joined us and we chatted a bit more until the mosquitoes drove us under.  The sun never sets the same… 

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