Saturday, 10 November 2012

Buses, Boats, and Hammocks.

SO much has happened in the last month since I last wrote an update. I am so sorry that I have not had the time or energy to update you all sooner. Better late than never I guess you could say. Fortaleza, Brazil. A time of sewing, a time of rest, and not to our family's liking, a time of goodbyes. I think this is where I last left off. The most beautiful couple, Herbert and Lorelei, for the last few years, have been in the process of getting Iris Fortaleza up and running. I felt so honored to be able to meet them and run with them for the time that we did. Completely unplanned we all settled in at the new Iris base that, for the past week we had been cleaning and constructing. For the first time, in most of my entire 20th year of life we stayed in one place for more than a week. In all, the majority of my team was there in Fortaleza for about 3 weeks. This is where we came to the conclusion the end of our season together as a family was very much near to its end. Especially with how things once were. In Fortaleza we began the process of donating our vehicles to the Iris base there. (which is a lot of work considering it is illegal to give away anything imported into Brazil). By the Grace of God we were able to at least give the vehicles over to the government and having them sign a paper saying they would then in return give them back to Iris. As we all began to talk together about the end and what things were going to look like we decided to have one last family time in Georgetown, Guyana with a set date.
Allowing people to go finish Brazil the rest of the cities in Brazil we had hoped to go to as others waited for Zion, Jesse and Tanya's (our leaders) Baby to be born. Me and 7 others decided we would take the cheapest, yet slowest way to get there (being a little tight on the cash side of things). This way was by bus and boat!
and being the City on the mouth of the Amazon River. We spent 2 nights in a cheap old hostel
It took out group of 8 a while to finally get organized enough to leave, but when we did it was extremely bitter sweet. Saying goodbye to the base staff and the hardest of all, saying goodbye to family members that were flying home early. A group before us had left several days earlier to head to Manaus, Brazil, to go into the Amazonian jungle. We found out after a week or so that some of our family was flying home from the city there and we would not get a proper goodbye, just to make things harder. However, for my little group of 8 we headed first for BELEM known for its ACAI and being the City on the mouth of the Amazon River. We spent 2 nights in a cheap old hostel.
After those two very hot nights in the city of Belem we set sail on the boat ONZE DE MAYO Crammed in hammocks with about 50 other people on the lower deck.
And that is where we stayed for the next 60 plus hours. While on the boat we made many friends. Some hippies from all over South America, some of the sweetest older ladies, and some crazies (as you always do). All kinds of people. We Prayed with them, learned from them and just loved them. Practically living out love in all ways possible. Finally we arrived in Santarem, Brazil having sailed nearly half the Amazon at that point. We hopped off the boat and not even 10 minutes went before God hooked us up. We stopped a lady on the port walking by to ask her when the next boats to Manaus would be leaving. Right then she gave us an offer we could not refuse. She sold us tickets for a boat leaving the next day for very cheap and then offered to give us her office space and the key to the door so we could store all our bigger luggage in so we wouldn't have to carry it around the town. So we packed up the office and started walking into town to try and find the contact we had gotten in touch with before hand about staying over one night. Eventually we found the house and met the contact. He let us sling up our hammocks under his gazebo. We had heard about a little town, from our hippie friends, about an hour bus ride away that had a part of the Amazon you could swim in with White sands and clear waters.
So we took off for this town. Swimming in the Amazon River! The town was beautiful and the water was warm and kinda clear. After a crazy night we got up bright and early to head back to the port. After a long wait we are allowed on the boat and like usual the mad race of hundreds of people trying to get the best hammock spot begins. People can be so cheeky. This boat was much larger than the last on we had been on. For the most part it was hot. Very hot. As in over 100 degrees at midday. This boat was much different than the last. With many more people and less of a community vibe. However, we met lots of really great people and had a lot of fun together. 48 hours later we dock around 8pm in Manaus, Brazil, but we have been out of contact for the past week and a half so we have no clue where to go and no idea where the rest of our family was. We knew there was some of our family in Manaus, but no way of contacting them. We find out we are allowed to sleep on the boat if we want to. So we take that as a God send. A place to sleep for free for the night even though it was hotter than a polar bear in the desert. A couple of us went out to find some food and internet to see if we could find out where anyone from our family was. It took so much effort to finally find internet, but 2 of the other woman who had come into town with us finally found it. The news we received back from the rest of the team left us in shock and aw.
First bit of news we received was that Zion Jesse and Tanya's baby still had not been born yet. Next we heard that some our dear family had already flown home out of Brazil and we wouldn't see them in Guyana, finally we heard that Jesse and Tanya were now moving to Micronesia in January and were not going to the Caribbean. This left us all stunned. Finally we found out that not only were they not doing the Caribbean they were headed back to America that day! All this news hit us pretty hard,but we were not going to let it take the best of us. The next morning being woken up extremely early by cleaners we left the boat headed for the port so we could look up bus schedules. We hopped in a taxi to the bus station then booked our bus tickets to leave that night for Boa Vista. Once again being blessed with someone in the bus office who let us store our luggage so we could hang around the city without the hassle of carrying our bags. We finally were able to catch up with some of our team that was there in Manaus before our bus took off. Getting to the bus station right on time to catch our bus. 12 hours (overnight) to get to Boa Vista and from there we immediately hopped on another bus headed for Bom Fim. At Bom Fim we met some guys that had a mini Bus service and agreed to take us all to Georgetown, Guyana after we crossed the border. Finally after 3 months of being in Brazil we crossed over into Lethem, Guyana. We were directed to a place where we were able to hangout and shower at a local restaurant while we waited. Finally all 8 of us and the 5 others (3 locals, one america, and one Brazilian)piled into our small, dirty, squeaky minibus. What happened over the next 19 hours was nothing that we expected!
The entire road to Georgetown was through the jungle on a dirt road full of potholes. Every so often driving though a plot of fields that had been caught on fire by the lightening storm. We were stopped almost every hour for a passport check to make sure we were legal. The whole journey I was extremely reminiscent of Africa! Around 9pm we pulled over at a place where we just slung up our hammocks under gazebos with all the other travelers, from other buses heading to Georgetown that day. We slept for 6 hours and woke up at 3am to head back on to the road to finish our journey. In total 16 hours is how long it took us to actually arrive in Georgetown.
The only problem was that we had not paid our bus driver yet because of the lack of ATMs in the previous cities. Our bus driver then drove us around for an additional 3 hours to find an ATM in order to pay him. Finally after 2 and a half hours of no luck we were saved by the Scotia Bank. However, while on our mad scavenger hunt through all of Georgetown. Before we had made it to the Scotiabank we were pulled over by a truck load of local police. One police men gets out and welcomes us Americans to Guyana. Assuming we are all American because we are white. He assures us everything is fine and this stop is nearly protocol. In the mean time our bus driver has gotten out and is over by the police truck talking. From our point of view it looks as if they are laughing. When our driver gets back in the van and the police men are driving away. Marcus, our bus driver, is chuckling to himself. We ask him what just happened he laughs and says “man they wanted a bribe and wanted half of your money. So I told them I was trying to get your money too!” We all laughed. God totally saved us from having too pay off those policemen by delaying us from finding money. Once again we learn the lesson of trusting God on everything including His perfect divine timing!
After we have finally gotten our money I realize this was the first time this entire year of travel I have gone hungry from not having money for food and that wasn't even because I didn't have any it was because I couldn't get any! I would say that is a testimony in itself knowing everything I have gone through. This was the first time I had ever gone hungry! God is so good to his Kids. Our driver says he knows of a cheap hostel we can stay at and offers to take us there. We payed 5 dollars for one night, granted it was probably one of the worst we have ever stayed in, and we have stayed in some pretty bad hostels. No matter we were just happy to have had a bed after 2 weeks of sleeping in hammocks and buses. We are finally able to contact the rest of our team that had already arrived a couple of days before. They had found an amazing hostel for not so expensive that was owned by a Christian woman. We made plans to move into that hostel the next day. Where we would then begin our scheduled Fam Fest 2012 as soon as the rest of our family arrived. A time to be together, encourage each other, and say goodbye. Most of the team was planning on flying home from there only 11 people were planning on moving on to finish the remaining countries, Suriname and French Guiana.

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