I slept very little this night. It happens all the time, whenever I have to wake up too early I can’t get any heavy sleep worrying I won’t be able to get up next day. Millions of thoughts come to my mind: I won’t hear the clock, I haven’t set it up properly, I’ll hit snooze while half asleep too many times and wake up only by noon… Also, I was way too excited about my arriving in São Gabriel da Cachoeira.
Apart from that, everything went ok. Mister (Seu, as we would say in Portuguese) Cosme knocked at my door at the hotel at 5:30am. He was the taxi driver who had taken me to the hotel last night, and we left everything arranged for today. At 5:35am I was already at the airport to take my 7am flight. We had a stop in Barcelos, which I wasn’t expecting; that explains why the flight takes 2 and a half hours.
In São Gabriel da Cachoeira, the first thing I noticed about the airport was the size of the building, looking from the airstrip. Once inside, the large concentration of militaries couldn’t pass unnoticed. Also, the baggage delivery system was quite interesting. I retrieved my backpack and left to tried and fond myself a taxi. I did, a shared one. On our way to the city, militaries was all we could see. Military bases and areas everywhere. São Gabriel da Cachoeira is a National Security Area because it’s close to the Brazilian borders with both Colombia and Venezuela.
Once in the city, I asked the driver about the FOIRN, ISA and FUNAI offices. He told me they were quite close to my pousada (a sort of Brazilian inn, but less fancy) and we would drive by them. Indeed, they are all close by and within a walking distance from my São Gabriel da Cachoeira home. Lucky me! When we got to the pousada, what does the driver tell me? The pousada’s owner is French! Well, ex-owner actually, the pousada was built by him but no longer belongs to him.
I checked-in (if you could call “drop you stuff and leave” cheking-in) and walked straight to ISA, the closest one of the three offices I mentioned above. I was relieved to see it was opened, because FOIRN was not when we passed in front of it by taxi. As soon as I got in, bad news: the Pamaali teacher with whom I was supposed to share the boat upstream to the school left yesterday early in the morning.
It was quite frustrating to hear that because he had sent me an e-mail on Monday morning asking me when I was going to arrive because he was in São Gabriel and he could wait for me so we’d go up the river together. It was actually an answer to an e-mail of mine in which I said I’d try to arrive here on Tuesday. I answered and told him I would be a day late, and I tried calling him in ISA and the director of FOIRN several times on Monday and Tuesday and simply couldn’t reach anyone.
The thing is that even if I’ve gotten here on Tuesday, I wouldn’t be able to go with him because the lady at ISA told me he left early in the morning. I don’t see the point of sending an e-mail if you’re not planning to wait for an answer and of telling someone to call you if there will be no one there to pick up the phone. Nevertheless, I don’t know what happened. When it rains, which was the case this morning, nothing works here, neither telephones, nor cell phones, nor internet conections. À la limite (as my French friends would say), electricity.
Also, there is this huge holiday here in Brazil this week that gets kinda meshed together with the Easter holidays (semana santa). Officially, it’s only on Thursday and Friday, but usually nothing will function as it should throughout the whole week. Plus, the mayor announced that this Wednesday could be turned into an “optional workday”. It means it’s up to you if you’ll work today or not (if your the boss, of course). According to the people in ISA, FOIRN will be closed all week long, that’s the reason I couldn’t reach them yesterday and the day before.
What bothers me is that the lady in FOIRN with whom I talked to last week (the one from the BARCO post) told me that Irineu, FOIRN’s director, would be here this week, and that I could come talk to him. Last week he was in Manaus and apparently, still is.
So, basically, I’m stuck here in São Gabriel da Cachoeira until next week because I won’t be getting any paperwork pushed towards any sort of authorization for me to go into indigenous lands before that. And on top of that, I lost my ride.