Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sebastião Manoel dos Santos

Some days ago I had the pleasure of seeing Sebastião Manoel dos Santos at Bosque Santa Lúcia. Sabá has played a major role in nearly everything that has happened at Bosque and our small tour agency over the years. I don't remember when he started working with me but I would guess around 1988, when I was doing mostly riverboat tours. Sabá is one of those characters who is a jack-of-all-trades, and I should say, a master of many. His construction skills accounted for an additional room on to our house in Santarem, the placement of tile ceramics in part of the house and the outside areas. He fairly much built the reception center at the Bosque over a period of four years, little by little, as we could afford to buy more bricks and materials. He was the cook on riverboat tours in the late 1980s and 1990s and also took on the task of being a woodman and guide. A friend and client, Alice Stein from Buffalo, New York, schedules her many visits to the Amazon based on Sabá's availability. If he's not available, she doesn't come. Some 4-5 years ago, Sabá joined the staff of Santarém Tur, another agency here in Santarem. I would have preferred that he work for me full time but unfortunately I couldn't pay him the salary he deserved. It's not easy raising a family with 5 kids, and I understand that perfectly. At Santarém Tur he has moved up in rank from common sailor to commander of a fleet of four riverboats, all dedicated to river tours. Having good eyes and a good memory, Saba is capable of navigating any of the rivers in the Amazon without ever looking at a chart. I took this picture of him when he visited the Bosque. The palm is the result of some seeds he gave me, in 2004. It is a caranã palm from the Tapajós River area.

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