Created in 2006 by science journalist Paola Catapano, MINIDARWIN aims at taking groups of children on scientific expeditions coached by real scientists and science communication professionals.

On the occasion of International Year of Biodiversity 2010, theMiniDarwins are ready to leave on their third expedition, to the Amazon Forest, devoted to biodiversity and its socio-economic spin offs. The MiniDarwins will be coached by biodiversity scientists and an ecological socio-economist specialised in ethno-ecology to experience life with an Indigenous population in the Amazon Forest

During the trip, we will publish on this blog a diary of the expedition and some of the photos, videos, interviews and texts we are producing for later publication on our website, book, reportage and documentary film.

13 August 2010

Garbage Beach and "Paradise" Beach - We can finally swim in the Rio das Amazonas!

Fri 13 August
On our last day in Tefé Bettina and Fernando, the owners of the Multicultura Guesthouse, organized for us a an outing with bbq on a wonderful beach on the bank of the Tefé lake* opposite  the city of Tefé. We embark on the flat metal boat with which we will cross the 8 km width of the Tefé Lake, on the beach just under the terrace of the Multicultura guesthouse. As we get closer to that beach we realize there's more garbage on it than sand grains! 

The people living on the stilt houses right on the beach  just throw anything they do not use from the window, and the result is  layers and layers of all sorts of objects (plastic bottles, havaianas flip flop sandals of all sizes, doll heads and arms, MadeinChina plastic toys, plastic bags, plastic cups and dishes, bike parts ...... yes, the dominant material is of course plastic!) compacted with the mud of the lake beach by the changing levels of the water according to the floods. 

One explanation could be that these river populations, new to the city life, are accustomed to life in the forest, where you use all you find and throw away the very little left you do not use. The big difference is that whatever you find in the forest is bio-degradable and these people seem not to have learned yet that plastic is not. Fernando rather blames the Municipality and the State of Amazonas for not collecting garbage and not cleaning the beach. Maybe he's right.

After the 20 min crossing with warm wind in the hair, garbage beach is instantly forgotten at the sight of a 2 km long desert strip of white sand against a backdrop of palm, mango and other tropical trees. The view gets more and more paradisiac as we put our feet on the soft sand and get ready for a swim.Yes, Fernando says here we can swim safely, "just be careful not to step over manta rays when you walk in the water". The fact that he lets his 2 year old daughter Lilaia go in the water reassures everybody and we all enjoy the reddish lukewarm on the surface and fresh at the bottom waters of the Rio das Amazonas in lake Tefé.
Bbq ing the delicious Tambaqui fish

Maxine and Lilaia

*Lake Tefé ( roughly the size of lake Geneva!) is one of the thousands of lakes in the Amazon river complex formed by a side arm of one of the Amazon's main affluents, the Rio Solimoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment