Friday, 24 April 2015

New place for cruisers at Alter do Chao

I moved here four years ago when my daughter Flora was born. This created an amazing opportunity to create a place for entertaining passengers from cruiseships that anchour in this beautiful place. Together with Zero Impact Brazil, an organisation founded by Rick Paid, an American kitesurfer who makes art from fallen tree and tree branches left in the forest by loggers.  We shall expose his works and make exhibitions about Fordlandia, The Confederados, Rubber History and Amazon wildlife.

We shall also offer the best drinks while contemplating one of the most beautiful landscape in my country.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sunday, 8 March 2015

John Gould, the Giant water-lilly flower and the hummingbird

I never really wanted to have been born on the 19th Century like my friend Redmond O'Hanlon, writer and presenter for O'hanlon's Heroes for VPRO.
The privilege to access a large collection of Victorians work today may have overshadowed that funny wish for me.

I first learned about John Gould, Charles Darwin's illustrator, through his book about Ramphastidae, the toucan family that I was given by my dear friend Fatima, a Librarian at the Goeldi's Museum in Belem.

I then met my lovely late friend Hugh Beveridge and his wife Eliza when I was working for the Tropical Hotel Manaus as a private guide. He was about to finish John Bowlby's Charles Darwin and when he did it he presented that excellent book, which made be a even bigger admirer of Sir Gould who had never been to the Amazon.

I like him so much that I have his picture (and Wallace's) hang on my bar wall.

When I moved to the USA to help taken care of one the largest Psitacidae collection in the world (and the idea was raising them in captivity and find other sources of fund to buy and protect their habitats elsewhere) my friend Richard had John Gould's book on the Trochilidae, the humminbirds.

After asking for permission (from Richard not Gould) I went to his library to take pictures of some plates.

When I was shooting his classical illustration of a Giant water-lilly flower with a humming bird on top, my finger decided not to push my old Nikon's buttom. I tried again without success to notice in my little brain hummingbird never hover ovet that huge flower, of course only after that my finger decided to obey my imperative demand. Giant water lillies flower are pollinated by beetles, a particular one.

A few weeks later I would found myself embarked on the MV Explorer, working as a lecturer and naturalist for Abercombie and Kent.

The Little Red Ship had  been built four years after I was conceived and she was famous for her adventures, lecturers and her not least famous passengers. Seeing myself in a room where Lars Eric Lindblad and Jacques Cousteau amongst others had been was a real dream for me.

In a particular journey a gentleman politely comes to me asking if I had ever heard of John Gould. After I gave him a positive answer and tell the story above he said  I AM HIS GREAT SON.

The picture on my wall

Thursday, 19 February 2015

I went to Santarem to report about deforestation in the Amazon (for my book Visit Sunny Chernobyl)

Hi Colin,

I can't recommend Gil highly enough! 

I went to Santarem to report about deforestation in the Amazon (for my book Visit Sunny Chernobyl) and hired Gil as a translator and guide. Even though my requests (which had to do with deforestation, environmental damage, soy farming, and industrial infrastructure in the area) were rather unusual, Gil was relentlessly energetic in his pursuit of contacts and access on my behalf, and also proved to be genuinely interested in my area of research and eager to collaborate. 

Let me list some more positives:

• He's irrepressibly enthusiastic
• He has unique and non-judgmental insight into a lot of different aspects of the region (as well as the people who visit it).
• His English is excellent.
• He knows everybody. I mean EVERYbody. He is without question one of the unofficial mayors of Santarem and environs.
• He loves hosting people, and truly loves both the Amazon and sharing it with people.
• He has a great sense of humor.

If it seems like I'm going a little overboard, it's just because the guy is one in a million. I felt very lucky to stumble onto him, and I'm not sure what I would have done without him.

Hope that helps!

All the best,