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A review of the last St Francis March Trip you will have

DP1 March Trip To Amazonas: the review

A review of the last St Francis March Trip you will have

João Pedro Ensina

In the week of March 13th to 17th, MYPs 1 through 4 and DP1s travelled with the school to their respective March trips. As per tradition, DP1 went to Amazonas in order to complete our group 4 project, as well as exploring Brazilian culture, observing a parallel reality from what we live in and enjoying the last March trip together. The group 4 project involves at least one student per group taking biology, chemistry, and physics, and the objective is to gather quantitative and qualitative data from a question involving a certain aspect of the region, such as the rubber industry, the Balbina hydroelectric dam, or the Rio Negro, among others. The teachers accompanying us on the trip were Ms Zanotto, Ms Torlai, Mr Vidas and Mr Palmer, plus local guides from UGGI.

On day 1 (Monday), we arrived at Manaus late morning after leaving Viracopos International Airport in Campinas. On this day, we did not do much related to schoolwork. We visited the riverside beach at Rio Negro and chilled in the water or in the sand playing frisbee. We did have to go back to the hotel soon because of rain, but we were able to all enjoy the pool as it was raining. At the end of the day, we were able to witness a splendid sunset where we were able to take many good pictures.

On day 2 (Tuesday), we went out on our first activity on the trip. In the morning, we went on a boat ride along the Rio Negro, where we were able to witness the Meeting of the Waters between Rio Negro and Rio Solimões. We also went into the jungle to see some of the wildlife in the Amazon and some of us may have spotted monkeys, snakes, and even alligators, as well as the famous Vitória-Régia. In the afternoon, we visited the indigenous community Cipiá, where we were able to learn about the community’s culture, including dances, rituals, food, and handicraft. It was quite interesting to see some of our friends eat ants and crocodile meat. We also learned about the history of the rubber industry in the Amazon, and how it affected indigenous communities in the area at the time.

Day 3 (Wednesday) was a much more fun-oriented day. We firstly took a (very long -– around 3 hour) bus ride to the Balbina hydroelectric dam, built in 1989 to provide alternative electricity to Manaus that was mostly relying on petrol at the time. We learned how the dam worked and we had a mini-tour around it to see some components of the dam. An interesting idea, especially for the project, although we took way too long on the bus and spent too little time on the dam to make it worth it. To compensate, we later went to Asframa waterfall, where we were able to enjoy the rest of the day sliding down the river, or hanging out under the fall or in the water.

Day 4 (Thursday) was our last full day on the trip, so we had to make the most of it. In the morning hours, we went on a trail with an indigenous tour guide that showed us their way of life in the colossal Amazon Rainforest. He showed us how they used a certain ants’ scent to make a natural repellent and various improvised traps to capture different sorts of animals for consumption as one of their only source of food. We also got the opportunity to attempt to climb a tree with a rope made of leaves, to shoot out of a blowgun, to drink water out of a vine, and the brave ones got to eat living larvae. Besides that, he also showed us how to build a shelter and make a fire in the woods in case they need to spend the night when they go out to hunt.

In the afternoon, we went to the CIGS zoo, where the Brazilian military does research on the flora and fauna of the Amazon. We were able to see a variety of species of birds, snakes, monkeys, turtles, and jungle cats, most impressively the jaguar. After that we went to INPA -- National Institute of Amazonian Research -- where we could learn the process of rehabilitation of various species including the manatee.

On day 5 (Friday), the trip had finally come to an end. Yet before we could head to the airport, we were able to explore the city of Manaus, which we hadn't seen before. Firstly we went to the Mercado de Manaus, where we could do some last-minute shopping for things we wanted to take home for ourselves or for family and friends. Later, we headed to the famous Teatro Amazonas, the theatre with the third best acoustic in the world. Luckily, we were actually able to witness the philharmonic orchestra and choir of Manaus practise what they were going to be performing that night in the same theatre.

At the end of the day, I find this trip will be quite memorable to me, as all March Trips are. Despite its issues, such as a small lack of planning on some parts, the trip was fun and enjoyable, and it is always a great opportunity to spend time with friends you cherish, and learn something new about the Brazil that we don't know.

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