April 21, 2020222 views0
Despite being a brave new world, there comes a time when traveling by boat on the flow of the Amazon River becomes boring. The trip is long, the boat uncomfortable, the food on board bad and the landscape, after the initial surprise, becomes monotonous.
Parallel to the boat, the lush tropical forest framed by the blue sky and the reflection of itself in the bed of the gigantic river. In some places, the bank is so far away that it is difficult to see. Trees and more trees and, from time to time, a small house appears, on stilts or ingrained in the forest itself.
Suddenly, in front of the vessel, far in the distance, small spots on the river begin to appear. The boat is approaching, the number of points is much greater than you could imagine and they start to take well-defined shapes. They are canoes. Occupied by children. Some who, if they lived in a city, would be in a crib on someone’s lap.
The boat comes very close to the canoes. As if rehearsed, passengers start throwing plastic bags into the river. The children frantically paddle to rescue them. It’s food. The occupants of the boat know they are poor, but they also understand that there are families in even more bankruptcy.
“You have to help, right?”, Summarizes Dona Iolanda, who at another point in the trip had already told me about the difficulties to survive with dignity.
Traveling by boat on the Amazon River is a dive in Brazil Profundo. And do not submerge yourself like it.
Hours later, the monotony of the trip is again broken, this time by a lonely canoe. “More of the same,” I thought.
The canoe stands almost in front of the bow of the passenger boat. As soon as the two boats pair up, the boy who pilots the canoe launches a kind of hook and hooks one of the tires attached to the side of the big boat. Take a rope and tie the canoe to the larger vessel. “It looks like a pirate attack,” I imagined.
The boy with indigenous features, the dark skin, tanned by the sun, starts selling fruit to passengers. Per unit, dozen, basin … at ridiculous prices. Passengers pay it with coins and small bills.
Before long, the large basket that was filled with fruit just moments ago is empty. All sold, but for those who live in an urban center and used to higher prices, for a pittance.
Leaning over the railing of the boat, I can still ask the boy some questions. João. He spent the whole morning in the forest picking the fruits to sell them to the passengers. As he had done the day before and would do the next.
João is the rule along the Amazon River. Children who take to work and the risks of this approach to passenger boats. They sell fruits, shrimp and even hearts of palm wrapped in glass. Boys and girls, portraits of Brazil that Brazil does not know.
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