Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Friends from Porto Velho, Rondonia, in western state of Brazil, Thurs.-Sun., Sept. 21

Geraldo works at Agencia Parintins, a passenger ship company which offers trips down the Madeira River, which forms the western border of the city Porto Velho, where I am staying. I decided against going on a trip with his company, but he befriended me anyways. He speaks some English. We went for a pitcher of fresh orange juice on the waterfront where we met his friend, pictured here. Later, Geraldo introduced me to his sister, Gloria, who speaks English fluently.

Rotem Hershkovich of Eliat, Israel, was staying at Yara Hotel until yesterday, when he set sail down the Madeira River from Porto Velho to Manaus. I am looking forward to hearing about this three nights in a hammock and four days on the deck of the small boat. (See previous blog post). He spoke and cursed fluently in English.
Gloria is one of Geraldo's eight brothers and sisters. She is a Catholic missionary and has traveled the U.S. with an international group of missionaries. She learned English and upon return to Porto Velho, met her husband. Together, they launched Grupo Tucuma, which administers three non-profit programs in Porto Velho: a school for kids ages 3-13, a program for women and a program for teens.

Miguel Nenevé is originally from the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, (where I went whale-watching). He has worked at the University of Rondonia in the Porto Velho campus as a professor of literature for the past 20 years - almost as long as the university has been in existence. He has three daughters (Cinthia, 16, pictured above) and has traveled internationally for his job with stints in Canada and England, among other places.

I feel lucky to have met him thanks to James Hayes-Bohanan, a geography profesor whom I have never met in person, but have exchanged emails with recently. I discovered James while researching Rondonia and wrote to him for advice about traveling the region. He was very helpful and kindly provided Miguel as a contact in Porto Velho. Miguel took me to dinner at a riverfront restaurant specializing in Amazon cuisine, pictured below. Amazing power of online connections!

The broth, at left, contained hard boiled eggs, ribs, potatoes, onions, green peppers and large chunks of fish. The broth goes over white rice and can be seasoned with manioc flour (golden color) and a tomato salsa. I liked it!