Tuesday, February 24, 2009


My eyes open to the symphony of bird songs swelling outside my widow, the light is still in soft grays. A fresh breeze is coming up from the water through the silowhetted trees. Running shorts, Tee-shirt… and then with socks and shoes in hand I quietly nudge the screen door open, not wanting to awaken Maria.

Luzeiro bounces over, leaping up at my knees, and tripping over himself like only a puppy can. Nipping at my socks, he nearly absconds with one before it gets on my foot. Then it is the shoe laces, I can hardly tie them down, “You silly dog! Come Here, yeah that’s a good dog! Oh, you’re so sweet!” As I stretch muscles, he chases his little tail – nearly two circles and then flop! He trips and hits the tile, but his tail is gripped victoriously between his little teeth and he gives it a good knawing before a beetle distracts his attention! I climb over the fence a ways down from the entrance because I don’t want him to discover he is small enough to fit under the gate. “I’ll be back!” I respond to yipping pouts, and my feet pick up rhythm along the dirt road.

Doves with rosy tinted feathers scatter into the overgrown edges, Kiskadees flash yellow breasts in the sunlight that is now slanting golden through morning clouds. Something like a sore-throated turkey with a hiccup calls from within the jungles curtain, and other groups of this funny bird answer in a chortling greeting. My thoughts modulate into prayers matching the steady pattern of my steps - thoughts of hope, love, and protection for those I love.

Descending the rumpled road that curves down into the little town of Puraquequara, a motorcycle turns onto the road in front of me – two guys and probably 50 pounds of Tucumá headed to the market.Asphalt, a curve, a slope, a dip down past the garbage dump. Awkward vultures hop out of the way, to lazy to fly. Their funny warted heads and dusty feathers seem at home with the stench of trash, and dirty water trickling across the street. I pass a small girl dressed in the government school uniform, an elderly man carry a bag of fresh crusty buns from the Panderia, a little boy chasing a rooster. Brazilian tunes bounce out from the radio of a corner store.

People are not accustomed to seeing a girl jog through the streets. Running is for soccer fields, catching chickens, buses, and taxis. They pretend not to stare, and I pretend not to notice. “Bom dia,” I puff to an elderly woman walking with her granddaughter toward the bus station. “Bom dia,” she grins. The bus squeals to a stop and the people scramble aboard, it passes me twice on the next few roads as it picks up people headed for Manaus. Cresting one of the higher points in the loop I can seen the Amazon river in the distance.

Circling back through the streets I pass the dump and the little sitios on the edge of town. The bumpy road climbs the steep hill, my toes strike at the clay, my lungs grasp the air. There is little flat ground in this region, it is either up or down or water. I follow the clay road to its end - to home. The lake is beginning to take on the blue of the sky, and two pairs of parakeets chatter their way across the sky. The day has begun.

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