Tuesday, 24 February 2009
On the River by Gil Serique
As an infant born in the Amazon Basin my obvious favorite toy was
paper boats. Making, loading and carefully placing them on run outs of
Amazon storms made my heart bit faster and threw my imagination beyond
Being raised in a region that holds 80% of all navigable fresh water
in the planet, highest rain precipitation, huge bio mass and a
diversity of hardwood species without parallel explain it. Add to that
our very limited access to machine-made toys.
Boys with skills to build boats of wood with a little motor were
admired by all.
A rumor about someone making a new wooden-boat travelled for free in
We did not need a bottle of champagne to make the first floating a big
event, we had the rain water to swim and dive making the party a
Happiness and my mother's beats on our way back home keep it quite
vivid in my own mind.
The palm tree family represented by some 100 species is unquestioned
of great importance in our culture and lives.
We use palm trees as source of food, on the making of quite ingenious
instruments, traps, weapons, baskets, boat roof and above all our
homes and hammocks. There is one species named Buruti that means the
gift of the gods.
Several of the best little boats was made of part of palm trees. They
floated long distances in fast run outs caused by heavy Amazon rain
I have an extra reason to list up paper boats as favorites. I was born
in a little village up the Tapajos River called Surucua where some
other fifty families shared with us a paradisiacal life and an
isolation that would be only break by an 8-hour boat trip to Santarem.
I traveled bellied in my mother and did many trips to Santarem as a child.
Boats always had a significant importance in my life. There was always
one ready for evacuating a person in need of; Rescued my siblings from
Santarem and my daddy from his frequents trips to villages and cities
bringing toys and joys into my child's heart.
Frankly, the cabocos that could identify boats by their engine breath
had almost as much prestige as good fisherman or hunter at Surucua.