I’m back with another story to tell!
Iracambi was graced by the presence of ex-Iracambi volunteer Kellie Moore and her husband Christian who decided to bring along their children, namely: Taro, Yasmin, Hugo and Ingrid.
Kellie had come to Iracambi about 8 years ago with her then-newborn son Taro to perform research on fuel wood use in the local community. In the course of her stay she began to bring Taro along with her to knock on doors. What she found was that locals were much more receptive to a knock on the door when she was accompanied with a cute little blonde kid in her arms. Legend has it that Taro became quite the sensation in the town.
So… Kellie and Christian were back in Brazil to adopt two Brazilian sisters and welcome them into their family. The adoption process required them to stay in Brazil for 6 weeks so Kelly decided to use some of that time to revisit a place she had fond memories of and share her experience with the whole family. Yasmin and Ingrid, the two sisters, had never left the bustling city of Rio so their parents wanted to show them another side of Brazil and where better to show the serenity of nature than at Iracambi.
They arrived at 9 o’clock at night, exhausted. The volunteers and I went to introduce ourselves, showed them to their houses and helped them carry in their luggage. After, we chatted for a while but decided to leave the fun for tomorrow (plus I had a cold so wasn’t really going to push for any craziness the first night).
The next morning I took the family on a tour around the Iracambi Centro. I took them through the mystical medicine trail while spouting out whatever pseudo-scientific explanations for the medicinal qualities of the plants I could amalgamate from conversation I had overheard. We ended up by the forest nursery where I explained how the production of seedlings worked, what purpose they served and explained our new project Forests 4 Waters. I got to chatting with Christian who had been an integral part of a reforestation project in Belize. His story about how they managed to get the conservation and reforestation project set up could be made into a blockbuster (I think blockbusters are actually bust so probably not the right term but you get my drift) film! It involved drones, sonar equipment, drug cartels, risk management, border disputes, the church, machine guns and a bunch of other crazy stuff that came together in an epic tale. I won’t go into too much detail as I am not sure how much he would want me to divulge but trust me: mind blowing stuff.
In the evening the family went to swim by the waterfall and visit Robin and Binka at their house. I did not go as I was still a little sick and wanted to recuperate but from what I hear they had a blast.
When they got back, I asked the kids if they would help me create a fire. We collected wood and piled it up bonfire-style. While I was preparing caipirinha’s (which I like to call caipi-caipi) for the nights festivities I looked around to see what all the kids were doing:
Ingrid – was playing the guitar… she never let this guitar out of her sight. What was impressive was how well she could play without having ever had any lessons. I mean she wasn’t Carlos Santana yet but you could see she had potential.
Taro – was playing with Toffee (Robin and Binka’s dog). Taro claims to remember Toffee from his visit to Iracambi as a baby. Though some were dubious about his ability to have such clear memories from such a young age, there was something to what Taro was saying as it was like watching two kindred spirts reunited.
Yasmin – was holding the “Meastre” the ginger cat. Well, when wasn’t she holding the ginger cat. Studies indicate that for 92.4% of her stay she had Meastre in her arms. Oh but she loved him and Meastre, being the submissive type, was in paradise with all the attention.
Hugo – was making the end of stick blunt. I am not quite sure why. However, later Hugo showed us volunteers how to play a game called “Train” (I believe) which was awesome!
The jug of caipi-caipi was made, the fire was lit and it was time for dinner. As the first bite of Carminhas delicious cooking was being placed onto our palates… THERE WAS A COMPLETE BLACKOUT AT THE CENTRO. Ahhhhh forest living, got to love it. I jumped off the bench and yelled “look up! LOOK UP!” with urgency. When there is no light pollution you get the best view of the night sky possible. Sometimes when the lights go off, they return within a couple of seconds (hence the urgency of my “LOOK UP!”) but this time around it was not the case as the blackout lasted hours. Everyone really appreciated the gorgeous night sky but had all the time in the world to do so. We set up candles outside and with the help of the glowing bonfire we had enough light to continue the feast. After dinner, we sat around the fire while being serenade by various guitarists while sipping our caipi-caipi. Bliss.
On Sunday they got ready to leave. It was sad as the marvelous company was only here for such a brief time. Tom, our Belgian volunteer, was heading the next day to Rio as his time at Iracambi was coming to an end but as the family was heading to Rio they were kind enough to give him a lift. This made it even sadder as Tom was my first volunteer that I had to “coordinate” at Iracambi. We all hugged, said our goodbyes and then they were gone.
I would like to thank Kellie and her family for being such wonderful guests and hope you all enjoyed your stay. Although, I think the smile on Ingrid says it all. And by the way kids, it’s about time you came to volunteer here at Iracambi!
P.S. I can’t quite remember when exactly this happened but it has to be told. At some point Taro and I got really deep into what can only be called the “Don’t touch cute animals but if you want to eat ugly ones then fine” debate. I think it started out with a conversation the volunteers were having about vegetarianism. Taro interjected with a “dogs are so cute no one would eat them”. We gently informed Taro that there are places in the world were dogs are eaten. Taro retorted “but they are cute… you can’t eat them”. Something clicked in my head and I turned around to Taro to investigate if “cute” was his only criteria for not eating animals. “Wait but is it okay to eat ugly animals?” the debate was on! We went through some incredibly complicated loops (which might have made Socrates cry) but ended up discussing whether beauty is subjective. The point is we had a heck of a time!