Meeting the Hands of Tambor Açaí, Part I: Seu Aristeu
Daniel and I (Talita) took a recent trip to Brazil and were excited to meet the hands of the people involved in Tambor and its harvest. To begin our journey, we left the city of Belém do Pará, Northern Brazil, before the sunrise. We headed south into the country towards Rio Meruu, about 50 miles south from Belem. Following that we got on a barge to cross the river and only after 30 more minutes of driving we arrived at the Meruu River. There, we got in a little wooden canoe because our “ride” was late. The primitive canoe trembled as we rode. Soon, we spotted a much nicer, more stable, boat–our ride! After hopping in, we spent the next 20 minutes enjoying the the Amazon river bank, breathing clean, oxygen-filled air, and enjoying the sheer magnitude of living things all around us.
We arrived at landowner Seu Aristeu’s house, who shares his home with his family. Like the other homes in the area, Aristeu’s house is built above the river margin on stilts to avoid flooding.
We were greeted with a beautifully set table filled with fresh local fruits, coffee and just-out-of-the-oven sweet coconut bread made by Aristeu’s daughters, who were excitedly standing at the back door in the kitchen watching us as we took our first bite. They seemed so happy and proud to serve us such a beautiful meal. As we finished breakfast we all sat on the couch and talked for awhile, then Aristeu invited us to take a tour of his land by boat.
Aristeu was so proud to show us his land and its bounties, like he was being rewarded for so much hard work. As we returned to Aristeu’s house, the table was set yet again with a homemade, three course lunch, prepared by his daughters. It was the most amazing meal! After finishing our delicious food, we were shown hammocks and kindly asked to take a “nap”, a typical thing to do at Brazilian home after lunch. All of this was followed by an offer of a cool shower with fresh towels, which we graciously accepted! We felt refreshed and ready for our very long trip back to Belem. As we hung out on the porch of Aristeu’s house to talk, a few of the workers and locals were on the nearby dock where fresh açaí is sorted. As we asked their names and shook their hands, the harvesters gave appreciative smiles. They seemed to be saying, Thank you for being here, for caring about what we do, and for caring about who we are.
We felt so welcomed at Aristeu’s beautiful breezy home. He is blessed to live in a wild, untouched place, and for having such a warm hearted, hospitable family, happy workers, and friends surrounding him.