New Year’s day at the ranch has been and gone and evidently I’ve lived to tell the tale. I feel a worthy member of their family, empowered and strong like Tarzan – a modern day Crocodile Dundee.
Lol, who am I kidding? They are all bare foot and I’m in scuff-free trainers holding a weapon with just my fingertips! 🤦♂️
Clearly there was only one natural and it wasn’t me!
But before New Year’s Day of course came New Year’s Eve and I got caught out, again with another gargantuan feast.
New Year’s Eve
Family is a big thing here. I’ve discovered that both in sentiment and reality. As for the latter, I’ve become aware that Vivian has TEN immediate Aunties and Uncles! No, really.
I’m picturing my Mother’s face right now. Think it’ll look something like this…
However, we didn’t spend New Year’s with any of ‘The Ten’. Instead we spent it with Vivian’s sister’s boyfriend’s parents. This was particularly humbling for me as not even Viv is a blood relative and yet she’s bringing to the table a complete stranger who doesn’t speak their language.
I’m thankful in saying that the mild anxiety I had was soon removed as they were so lovely and hospitable.
The sister and boyfriend live in a newly developed annex of his parent’s home. The interior was both surprising and stunning in equal measure – all designed by themselves.
So remember the culture shock and belly full I received on Xmas Eve? De ja vu! I’ve only ever been used to alcohol-orientated New Year’s so whilst I expected we would stay up until midnight, I didn’t expect what followed. Especially because around 6 o’clock, we snacked well so I didn’t think anything more ‘heavy would follow. Instead tonight’s splendid effort made Xmas look like a light snack!
After a midnight prayer in Portuguese and many ‘Feliz Ano Novo’ congratulatory exchanges only then did we actually start eating. I won’t forget that it was 01:15 before I laid my knife and fork to rest. Vivie and I lasted a further one hour before the imaginary matchsticks holding our eyes open began to cave in.
The size of that first piece of meat alone was the combined size of Vivian’s thighs!
And on that note, Happy New Year to you all.
New Year’s Day
So after a major food-hangover from the night before, we made it to the ranch for midday. The journey was as they described: long, bumpy and in parts, not overly pleasant.
We stayed for around six hours and to my surprise, I enjoyed my time here. It was the right decision to not stay the night but I’ve come away understanding the desire to those that seek this simpler way of life. Perhaps not much different to my Grandparents working on their farms in northern Italy. Certainly seeing this flock took me back a moment some 20 years ago.
So the ranch is still very much a work in progress. Viv’s Mum and Dad are the backbone to the project and they’re lucky to have a decent network of workers, contacts friends and family.
It’s basic, yes. Obviously. But in parts, it’s actually far more evolved and equipped than you would think – especially considering just how far and challenging it is to get here. Other than the occasional ranch, there wasn’t much around for a 30 minutes bumpy drive prior so to have accomplished what they have is really quite something.
No cellular signal but they have an electric stove, microwave, fridge, freezer and various other appliances dotted around the house including a wired telephone.
Less than 50 meters away down a small path was a vast river.
Serene. Tranquil. Peaceful. No ambient noise except indistinguishable wildlife chanting in the forest across the river.
This was my favourite moment of the day, just Viv and I down by the water. She returned to her roots and jumped straight in which was great to see. Funnily enough her “splashing” around reminded me of SPLASH. Many will remember the Tom Hanks led-film whereby Daryl Hannah returns to her rightful waters.
Speaking of the water, that was the one thing that escaped me today – a boat ride on the river. Sadly for me, below you’ll see ‘Vivian & Livian’ firmly parked up. I desperately want to try and get on the river back in Manaus but don’t know if this will be possible.
A lovely homage for Vivian’s Dad to name his boat after his two daughters.
And that’s a wrap for today, folks. Instagramers will have seen yesterday my favourite pic of the day and first public post in Brazil.
Thank you Vivian for today and all the experiences to-date.
Now, where can I find the nearest hotel?