Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fishing with Zé

Zé´s cobra

Zé and his parrot

fishing for shrimps...


the fish i caught :)

some of the fish Zé caught...

the massive tilapia Zé caught

our samba party

Adventures with Zé

Two weeks ago i had a mini adventure that i had been wanting to take since i got here. Zé (pescador e casador), is like the Association´s handyman and he´s volunteered and worked here forever. He´s also a good friend of everyone´s. Charles had always talked about how him and Jamile (past volunteer) would go on bike trips to different farms and nearby towns to explore... i of course wanted to go not only for the adventure but also for taking pictures. we finally organized with him to get the three bikes and go to this place called Morro Branco on a private farm called Melançia that one of his relatives owns about 10km (i think roughly 5 miles) from here. To meet Zé at his place, Charles and I had to borrow Kel´s bike (that had no gears or brakes) a mile or so away. i sat on the rail of the bike as Charles pedaled over speedbumps and almost killed the two of us as we rode through traffic. Zé´s house was just as eccentric as he is. his cement walls and floors that make us his house are covered in dirt and every room has junk piled everywhere. among many things, Zé is an archaeologist. he goes out on his adventures and literally scrapes gold out of the mountains.. he even takes several grams of it to São Paulo (when he has enough) to sell. and not just gold... he has an entire collection (looks like a pile of junk) of rare stones and rocks that he found. one of the rooms in his house, where he keeps his birds, he has an entire wall filled with stones, coral, and rocks that are all hung from the ceiling by transparent thread, so it looks like they´re floating. the room is just as surreal as it sounds. at the back of his house, is like a mini farm... his two dogs, his massive poisonous cobra, and enough herbs and plants to fill a greenhouse. his two dogs are really skinny and stay behind a wooden gate next to the garden. i was there when he fed them and it was the most amazing thing.. he put their food down in front of them, but the dog wouldn´t eat it until he said "vai". they were going nuts and jumping and wagging their tails, but when Zé gave the command, sure enough they ate it immediately. it was like something out of the dog whisperer! haha.

so we got on the bikes and headed out to the farm. it was so nice to be on a bike and see the countryside - it was so freeing. we biked about 30 mins on the two-lane highway that leads outside of the town and finally reached the farm. it´s so funny how beautiful everything becomes once you go into the countryside. from the road, everything seems so flat and desert-like, but when we entered the farm and rode back into the hills of the farm, everything was so lush. we stopped several times to let the cows go by, to see the baby goats, and horses. we turned off the dirt road and Zé picked up the barb-wired fence and we rode on through. 10 mins later, we arrived at Morro Branco. it´s an old mining area where they still mine for quartz - a snow white stone that is found in abundance here. there were mounds of it. i´ve never seen anything like it. there once was a mountain there, and now it was a valley filled with broken quartz and organized into piles to eventually sell by the ton. it´s not a terribly valuable stone, but in large amounts can make a small fortune. we parked the bikes and walked around. huge cliffs rose around us, making you feel really small. while charles and i were busy taking pictures of the place, Zé was already checking out the sides of the cliff trying to figure out the best way up. i didn´t know there would be any hiking involved this day, and thus came unprepared in my flip flops (as did charles). we proceeded to climb up the mountain trying not to slip as Zé turned into Indiana Jones. he inspected every rock i stepped on and lifted me over every ridge, all the while keeping his dog ears open to beehives. we were walking all the cliff and enjoying the amazing view when suddenly Zé hears bees.. the beehive was 20 feet away.. that´s how good he is. we had to be very quiet and walk quickly past the area because he said that if you disturbed the bees they would follow you and attack. needless to say, we headed back to the bikes. there was another place that he wanted to take us. there was an old cemetery - one of the oldest in the area - dating back to the 1800s. it came out of nowhere too. it was getting to be dusk, so it made everything especially creepy. behind the cemetery there was another morro that had tons of quartz, coral, and other oxidized stones that Zé educated me on, and huge cliff that we hiked up and saw views from.
it was getting dark so we headed back. i still think the ride back to capim grosso was the prettiest part. the sun was setting on my right and the moon was full and huge that night to my left. the moon lit our path back home. it was a perfect ending to such a great day. i had so much fun that Zé invited me to go fishing the next morning.

i must have been crazy for agreeing to get up at 6:30am the next day after biking all afternoon, only to bike more the next morning and fish for 5 hours. i´m glad i did. this time, vitor came along. me, vitor, and zé rode bikes to a water hole off the side of the highway. it was filled with cow and horse poop. this was not where we were going to fish, but where we had to fish for shrimp for the bait. Zé and Vitor, equipped with a fishing bag and net, got knee deep in the shitty water (literally) and each time they lifted their net, there were shrimps, but a lot of poop too haha. and yes, i had to fish for my bait too! so as zé coached us through it, we managed to gather over a hundred shrimps for our day of fishing. A 15 minute bike ride later, we arrived in Agua Nova, one of the poorer borrows on the outskirts of town. the lake where we fished was literally off the highway. people there fish for piaba and tilapia (very common for this area). it was the first time i fished without a reel. these fishing poles were made of bamboo and wire - that´s it. it was a long day, but i caught 3 piabas! vitor caught none haha. but zé, well he´s an award-winning pescador, so i wasn´t surprised when he caught his tenth piaba and one HUGE tilapia roughly 10 lbs! it was amazing watching him wrestle the fish to the ground. after 4 hours fishing, Vitor and i were burned and tired. when we got back to the association we had a fejoado waiting for us and some samba with the cavaquinha, guitar, and drums. it was a good day.

the farm.. waiting on the roadside for cattle to pass

cattle hearder

arriving at Morro Branco

lots of quartz

the cemetery that was built by slaves