Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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5 Iyar 5766 - May 3, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 19: The Amazon, October 2001 — Part 2

Daniel's parents, Fay and Eli, have been managing in the Amazon. They have been living off of the land, and in their isolation have also been drawing closer to their youthful Judaism. Lately their Brazilian companion, Pedro, has been disappearing and acting strangely.


The following morning, as the sounds of the jungle birds cried out its familiar tune, Fay shook Eli awake. She said, "All this isolation. It is making me go crazy. I can hear traffic."

Eli sat up, rubbing his eyes, reaching for the water in the clay pot that served as a negel vasser container. After a moment he said. "No, I hear it too! How can that be?"

Fay spoke very quietly now. "Remember we were here to save the forests, to stop logging interests from encroaching into the forests, building highways, slashing down trees and transporting them abroad."

They expected Pedro to appear at any moment, but as they quietly opened their door they saw a note under a stone.

"Today, when you wake, you will hear the noise of the loggers on the road. It runs near the camp. I cannot return to Altamira. Manuel will find me and kill me. I have gone where I will not be found.

"I leave you some of the dollars I took from you when we arrived at this place. The rest I take with me. Did you not promise me a reward if I spared your lives? Is this money not mine by right?

"Stand by the road so that a truck can take you away. You too should not go to Altamira. The trucks go to the logging factories of Manaus. Go to the river and use the money to travel by boat to Belem. It is sufficient for the fare, so keep it safe. Leave immediately for your own land. If you are in Brazil, Manuel will find you. Take care. You must have enemies in America, or Manuel would not have done this thing."

"That explains it" said Eli "He was with the loggers. That is where he got liquor."

Eli and Fay dressed hurriedly. They walked out into the forest in the direction of the noise. Then quite suddenly there it was before them, a great stretch of dirt road with truck after truck, filled with great piles of logs, churning up dust, rushing past them.

The curious sight of this strange pair by the roadside soon brought a truck to halt. They asked for a lift to Manaus and to their relief the driver nodded in agreement.

There was little conversation until midday when the truck driver took a stop. He handed them water from his flask, and some of his sandwiches. They accepted the water, refused the bread, but accepted some fruit that he offered next. "So, now you will tell me why you were in that part of the world all alone?" he said.

Eli decided that the simplest words were the best. He now knew Portuguese, and Fay remained silent as he said. "We were lost. For some time now we have been lost and trying to return home."

The man laughed. "Ah yes. Your Portuguese is good, but I recognize that American accent. You foreigners, you come here for a great adventure, yes? Then the adventure turns into a real adventure, one that you had not bargained for. I have seen such things before. You are lucky. There are some who do not survive these adventures. Our great Amazon River is not to be trifled with by the inexperienced."

Eli sighed with relief that his words had been so easily accepted. "I regret that we having nothing left with us with which to pay you."

The man laughed. "No matter. You will be company for me on this long journey. You will think of my family and me in your prayers. That is sufficient."

It was four days later when they drew into the outskirts of Manaus. "Where shall I take you?" said the man.

"To the river," said Eli, remembering Pedro's advice. "Then, as he got ready to leave the truck, he thought of the man's kindness to them, the way he had shared his food, the way he had asked for no payment. The money that Pedro had given them was in his pocket, but Pedro had said that it was sufficient for the boat fare. Perhaps it was only just sufficient. Eli looked at his wrist and noticed the expensive gold watch had somehow survived the rigors of their harsh life.

"Take this to remember us," he said.

"You are too kind," said their driver, as he took the watch and pushed it into his pocket. "I will truly remember you. This has been a most unusual journey for me. The days have passed by with great speed."

The river was crowded with boats of every description. After a few inquiries they found one that was to travel shortly to Belem, by the mouth of the Amazon River on the coast. This was no luxury, ocean going liner. It was quite different from the brochure pictures that Fay had looked at on the plane traveling into Brazil all those months earlier.

They shared the deck with numerous others. The noise was overwhelming. However, to them, it was more welcome than the most luxurious of ocean liners. They were on their way home at last.


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