Meeting the Hands of Tambor Açaí, Part II: Nilton Gomez
In our last post, we talked about our visit with Seu Aristeu, the warm, hospitable landowner of Tambor’s harvest area. While touring his enormous property, we were able to meet one of the hands that make Tambor Acaí. This is his story.
As we floated along the river by boat, we admired the açaí palms that towered above us. We looked closely, trying to spot any açaí pickers in action. Passing by houses set above the river, we waved at kids who were jumping and playing in the water. As they smiled at us, we sensed the powerful connection between these people and their environment.
After a few minutes, we came up on one of Aristeu’s workers and decided to stop the boat to meet with him in person. Nilton Gomes, 56 years old, was on the top of a 40-foot-tall açai palm tree. He used to make a living harvesting Brazil Nuts before changing to the relatively easier job of harvesting açaí, a trade for which he possesses great natural skill and agility.
We had a cameraman with us to gather videos and images of this magical moment. Nilton seemed a little confused with our presence, but was willing to help in any way possible. He demonstrated his craft by climbing an açaí tree with bare feet, swiftly moving up and around, and descending gracefully with a large cluster of açaí berries in one hand. On the ground he emptied the cluster in a woven basket, known as the “lata”, and began hand selecting berries from the top layer. We were touched to observe this beautiful connection between man and tree, and were honored to meet the hands that harvest Tambor Açaí.