Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The ground-operator for the Royal Princess and the Pacific Princess has canceled all tours to Bosque Santa Lúcia until such time safe access can be assured to passengers signing up for the ecological tour. I knew it was coming. Over the last few months I've had to cancel most of my own private tours to the Bosque because of road conditions. I tried everything to get the mayor's office to respond to the need for road maintenance, but to no avail. I still find it unbelievable that I wasn't successful in at least getting past that mud hole I refer to as Lake Maria. I talked with the secretary of tourism. Nada! I talked with his superior. Nada. I talked with a lot of other people too, including the secretary of planning for the municipality, who is "the man". He promised me that he would open up the road, but .... nada. I even wrote a nasty article in one of the major news pieces of Santarém. Nada! Our Bosque Santa Lúcia is on the edge of the city. Imagine what it's like out in the boonies. I'll be keeping everyone updated via this blog. I hope to see some of you there. Smile.
It's ironical that the first vehicle I saw to pass over the road construction was a logging truck. This kind of traffic is one reason the road becomes impassable. They are super heavy and some of them are the double trailer types. I can't make accusations, but everyone knows that most of this traffic is clandestine. The road connects BR-163 (Santarém-Cuiabá Highway) and the Curuá-Una Highway, a distance of only 8 kilometers. It's a way of avoiding the Federal Highway Police Station, which is located on the army base (8th BEC). Every now and then the Federal Police conducts monitoring of this situation and the traffic come to a fast halt, for awhile. Then it starts up again, especially in the darkness of night.
A beautiful sight it was seeing the road to Bosque Santa Lúcia without that gigantic mud hole. The attached image shows where the lake used to be. Note that the bulldozer filled it with earth, which is great for fill, but it won't last long without some rock content, i.e., gravel. It rained a few times after this picture was taken, making it a general mess. Now we're waiting for the gravel to make the road passable.
I regret to inform my readers that Bosque Santa Lúcia remains closed due to lack of access from the Santarém-Cuiabá Highway. The mere 3 kilometers of dirt road to the Bosque is a Municipality of Santarém responsibility, but nothing has been done in more than 2 years. From time to time a few private individuals, like myself, dig into our pockets to make accessibility better. Unfortunately, the road conditions have gotten so bad, it's turned into major construction job. Two weeks ago some of my neighbors and I put up some money for operational costs of a bulldozer and a dump truck. It took nearly 8 hours of bulldozer time to drain "Lake Maria" and then fill it with earth. What's lacking now is to place gravel on top of the loose dirt. Day after day, we've waited for the dump truck and grader, but the rains spoiled all plans. The grader finally showed up, but no gravel. And that's where we are now. In the image, Cleuson, caretaker of the Bosque with a local neighbor, Paulo. Lake Maria in the background.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
It's so great to see the fiddle heads coming off the rhizomes. This rhizome has grown from an old fallen log close to the entrance to the Bosque. In past entries, I've shown the ferns in the different stages of development. I never get tired of seeing them. They are real beauties.
On last Friday, we received the first cruise ship passengers of the season, the vessel being the Regatta. I was tied up in a staff meeting at Fundação Esperança until the last minute, but managed to get to the Bosque before the bus arrived. As I parked the car, I spotted this owl butterfly parked on the side of a tree. Even though I had many things to do at the last minute, I could not resist getting some pictures of it. The frayed wings indicate that birds may have discovered it before me.
The owner of the land next to the Bosque is originally from the northeastern part of Brazil, Ceará to be exact. It's an area that traditionally suffers from severe droughts, so it's not odd that many people raise goats. It's said that goats will eat anything, especially if they're hungry. I remember driving through Ceará a few years ago and I was impressed with the number of goats alongside the highways. They were everywhere ... and they were eating everything they could get between their teeth. I guess under these circumstances, one gets to like goat meat. My neighbor, a prominent lawyer in Santarém is no exception. Although every square inch of his land is fenced, his caretaker allows the goats to run loose along the roadside to eat the lush green grass that grows there during the rainy season. I wouldn't be talking about goats, except that we noticed that the newly planted palm trees along the entrance to one side of the Bosque were being eaten to the ground. At first we thought of caterpillars and grasshoppers, but one day Cleuson discovered that the goats were moving over to our land to do their thing. Young palm fronds can't be all that bad. Click on the image for a better view of the culprits.