Friday, March 25, 2011

Ilha de Marajó

At the mouth of the Amazon river is the largest island surrounded by fresh water in the world. About the size of Switzerland, the island is home to a wealth of natural resources and unique landscapes. I am not quite sure what moved me to visit the island, but the welcoming people and lack of tourists led to a very personal experience with this corner of Amazonia.

The island is crawling with thousands of buffalo. They provide food and transportation, and are the foundation of the island's economy.

The buffalo's hide is processed by hand and used to make shoes, clothing and all kinds of other necessities. I had a rare opportunity to photograph leather being made completely by hand.

The largest city on the island is Soure, and this is it's cemetery.

A boat tour took me to incredible private beaches and deep into mangrove forests. Along the way, I got to experience more of the rainforest. On this riverbank, locals remove the husks of these coconuts and send the rich center to be sold in larger cities. The husks rot, creating fertilizer that is returned to the forest.

The mangrove trees created beach landscapes unlike any I have seen before

When the tide comes in, it brings tons of trash from cities on the coast of mainland brazil. A local told me that no matter what they do, the water just brings more trash.

I then got to experience the mangrove forests so closely that I can only describe the experience as spiritual. Even though this fragile pathway was suspended five feet over quicksand, I felt completely at ease.

The Marajó experience wouldn't be complete without a buffalo ride.

While the island landscapes were stunning, my favorite part of this particular trip was interacting with the people. No matter where I went, I found children who were eager to share their knowledge with me.

I asked these kids if I could take their photo, and instead of posing for a picture they laughed and broke out into a hysterical mud fight.

Praia do Pesqueiro

On Pequeiro beach I met a group of young boys in search of fresh fruit. They eagerly led me from tree to tree, presenting me with a wide variety of fruits along the way. They caught shrimp and crabs to show me, and after a couple more boys joined our group they caught me a goat!

I was interested in seeing how they lived, so they took me into their village. Our group got bigger and bigger as I walked the town's main street. Even though I was obviously foreign, I felt completely welcome.

The wealth of seafood and buffalo lead me to believe this island should enjoy modern conveniences and monetary wealth, but this was definitely not the case. When I asked locals where all the money from these resources goes, they responded "corruption."

1 comment:

ml said...

the walk thru the mangrove forest reminds me of this beautiful thought..
* In some mysterious way, woods have never seemed to me to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me. - John Fowles