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posted Aug 7, 2010, 7:23 AM by Julie Bateman   [ updated Aug 8, 2010, 10:53 AM ]
So today, we continued our census in the other direction of the Transpantaneira, on the way to Pocone. We had chatted previously with a man on one of the major bends (there are true no cross roads) and he had mentioned that there were some children on his fazenda, and that the fazenda had just been bought so there would be four or five families working there in the coming year. So with Tito, we headed down to the bend, and fortunately met the same man, Adelinar, who was hacking away some brush on his road. After he and his four dogs greeted us, he led us to his home to “fala calma com café” – speak relaxed with coffee. Brazilians have a remarkable ability to shoot the breeze with strangers. On his porch with coffee brewing, Adelinar chatted with us about cattle, the rain, pigs, the wind, diesel, cars, and to our shock solar power! We had seen his diesel generator as we walked in, but turns out it was only for the water pump in the well – everything else (lights and a few appliances) is powered by his one solar panel on the roof, and a battery and charge controller hooked up next to his hammock. Very, very cool. He uses a car battery (R$400) , which we had considered, and replaces it about every year, and says his solar power system has been reliable and fit all his electricity needs besides the water pump. 
Hmm, and now his water system…so us being hot-shot college students thought we were introducing new technologies to this remote region, but guess what Adelinar had sitting on his porch – a bio-sand water filter! A layer of rocks, then calcium, then charcoal, topped with a thick layer of sand, and presto bio-sand water filter fixed with a tap at the bottom and mounted on a tree stump for ease of use.  And talk about ease of use, Adelinar has used this system for nine years with essentially no maintenance. Curious, we tried the water, and found out that with the addition of calcium or maybe it was charcoal (we’ll find out), there’s no sand taste as there is with our current filter on site. In hindsight, a bit more exploration of the current systems in the region would been worthwhile. I should mention here that Adelinar lives ten months of the year in the Pantanal, and there’s a good chance that he has immunity to bacteria that could take a good hit at our stomachs. I’ve had great health the majority of my time here, but later that night either dinner (which I hadn’t yet had problems with) or that half-glass of water took me and my stomach out for the night. Full health was restored by the morning, along with a renewed enthusiasm for filtration and water tests.
At last we got around to census business. Adelinar has a 9-year old son who currently lives with his mother in Pocone, and the two of them and Adelinar would much prefer to all live together on the fazenda. In addition to his son, Adelinar told us that he expects there to be between 5 - 10 more children on the ranch as it was just recently bought and will restart operations in the coming year.