Today, we anxiously waited doing this and that on the work site until after lunch to depart for Porto Jofre for a census further down the river and the Gós family party. We arrived at the Cuiaba River around 3 pm and were then taken about a half hour down the river to the Conceicão family. There we were greeted by Sr and Sra Conceicão and their four children (age range from 10 to 15). Even though school has already restarted and their kids attend school in Pocone, they have not been able to arrange a boat ride and car ride to Pocone (approximately a five-hour trip total) so their children have remained on the river and will be a week late in returning to classes. Sr and Sra Conceicão and their children were very excited about the prospect of their children being able to come home more frequently than two weeks in July and a month and half in December.
While there, Sr and Sra Conceicão also discussed the medical services offered in the region. Currently, the only services offered is a medical boat that goes down the Cuiaba River in November. The next best option is to figure out transportation to Poconé - very expensive and difficult to arrange. There has been talk for a long while of a medical facility in Porto Jofre to serve the town and families on the river, and hopefully with the increased awareness of the population in the area, there will be an opportunity to improve the current system.
Before we left, Sra Conceicão came out onto the porch and gave us a giant egg - about 5 or 6 chicken eggs combined and explained that it was a Rhea egg from the property and described how to make an excellent bolo - cake - with it. Once on the boat, we realized that there was a bit of conflict over the Rhea egg - I was interested primarily in cracking and cooking with it, while Ethan wanted to return to the States with it as a biological specimen. Fortuntaley we came to a compromise and will screwdrive a hole to drain it - so we can have our cake and Ethan can have his shell, I am not so sure about how he is planning on packing it.
We returned back on the river and backtracked to the Gos family home, and discovered that the party had actually been moved to this Sunday 8/8. But all was not lost as the Gos family had many questions about the operation of the school - Sr and Sra Gos were particularly concerned about their 15-year old daughter who has had no schooling - and also had the names and ages (range from 5 to 13) of five cousins down the river who also have never attended school.
Time is rapidly coming to a close here, and our next visit to the Secretary of Education is on Friday the 13th. By then we will have finished our census and have a map of the families on the Cuiaba river and the Transpantaneira along with their names, ages, and current education levels. After that it is a waiting game until October when the government makes decisions on school registration, funding, and teacher assignments for the coming school year.
The carpenters have disappeared into the vast Pantanal, and it looks like Joao and Jorge will be taking over roofing operations. Joao and Jorge have also promised that long as there is a steady stream of cigarettes and Reals, they are more than happy to finish the construction of the school after we leave.The building is now starting to look livable, and we have briefed Eduardo about logistics for finishing the roof, floor, and reboco wall covering so that he can take over operations when Ethan leaves on the 21st. Judging from past construction operations at his Lodge, Eduardo expects that our school will be finished by the beginning of September.
In exciting news to come, we showed Eduardo our small solar power system - and he now cannot contain his enthusiasm for converting the entire Lodge. Turns out his diesel generator has almost reached end of life and converting to solar power (though a massive capital investment) may be financially reasonable or even beneficial. We will leave it there as we don´t want to spoil it before we have our analysis of the Lodge´s electrical needs, and before Eduardo has his estimates for package deals on solar panels and batteries.