Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beautiful Bujarí

January 19-20
Acre, Brazil

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For many years the extended Mendes family has maintained a spiritual center in the municipality of Bujarí near the Alto Santo district of Rio Branco. After Seu Luíz and his immediate family moved to Vila Fortaleza, this center at Bujarí -- under the direction of Sr Emilio -- continued to host many events. Thus, while Vila Fortaleza has become the "rural center, " Bujari on the edge of Rio Branco has remained as the more "urban" Mendes family center. The festival of São Sebastião is celebrated here with the singing of the hymns of Tetéu.


Lovely as the setting at Bujarí is,

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it also can be quite a challenge to get to, especially during the heavy rains of January.

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This year the first group arrived without much difficulty

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and Mad Rizelda seemed especially pleased

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But the rains started again

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and some had quite an adventure arriving along a half kilometer of muddy road.

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In general, Santo Daime churches and centers are located in beautiful places but the roads getting to them can be monsters. There is potentially a book-load of stories of road adventures shared among Daimistas. After telling of their harrowing and humorous experiences, the punchline always seems to go something like, "... and after all that -- somehow -- thanks to God -- when the work began everyone was dressed perfectly in their fardas brancas."

And so it was at Bujari when the spiritual work of São Sebastião began (several hours late) with the singing of La Vem Mestre Irineu.



By the mid-work interval the sky was beginning to clear, revealing a lovely moon.

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As folks rested

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or read the Capixaba newspaper's feature story about the recent gathering at Vila Fortaleza

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the girls seemed mesmerized by the local heart-throb

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Then, the music and spiritual work started up again

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By morning folks were pretty tired

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I had been up since early the previous morning and now I was sort of just dragging my body from place to place and catching some rest whenever I could.

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I went over to speak with Saturnino (with Jacqueline translating) and asked, "When does the work stop?" He answered, "We work up to the end."

When I said, "I would never choose to work this hard spiritually, to have such an uncomfortable path,"

They looked at me seriously.

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And then, I shrugged and said, "But I see that I really don't have a choice."

Everybody laughed and we got up and got to work. On what? Maybe you guessed it? We needed to get everything back up the road to the place where the bus would get us.

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And of course, this being Brazil, it was a "hurry up and wait" situation. The bus was late -- very late! People entertained each other, some by drawing tarot cards,

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and the kids played "king of the mountain"

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But the sun was getting too hot so we sought shade under the roof of an old shed that had machinery from the deforestation days. We spread out on the ground

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and as Jacqueline entertained us, this hot old sawmill shed became like a concert hall. I was so captured by what was going on that I almost forgot to capture it on video. I did manage to get just a tiny piece. Perhaps it will be enough to give you "the flavor."



It was during all of this that I was struck by a personal insight. Some part of me had equated happiness with comfort and both as something that one received, but here I was learning from a spiritual path that said that happiness is something that you make with your own attitude and that comfort is something that you give to those around you.

Finally, the bus arrived. It headed first into the town where we stopped at a little house

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and folks jumped out to start bringing all the household belongings onto the bus

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Janaina and her grandparents Januário and Isamar were VERY happy

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They were coming to Vila Fortaleza, to live in the seringueiro house.

More photos here.


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