We entered an old canoe carved out from a large tree. We borrowed it from a family living by the river. I thought it would be an unstable and wet experience and climbed anxiously on board with my camera. It was not unstable at all. It was dry above water level and probably soaked under, so it became very stable. We paddled with large oars made of wood, roughly cut with large knifes, but used for so long it was smooth and comfortable to use. The canoe was gliding through the flooded forest and into the dense bushes. We where hunting for a special kind of berries growing wild in the forest. Acai! The name comes from the Brazilian Portuguese adaptation of the Tupian word ïwaca’i, ”fruit that cries water”. They wanted to make a juice that was suppose to be very healthy. The berries have become very popular in Europe the last few years. Across the street from my apartment I have seen they add frozen berries in smoothies and told me how difficult it is to get them from South America. I was about to find out why.
We had to maneuver the boat between trees and grabbing branches to drag the boat forward. After a short and chaotic journey we got close to a tree trunk that looked very different from the rest. It was all smooth and grey in color. The trunk was straight and the tree was tall and disappeared through the canopy. We could see through the canopy small clusters of black berries far above. We held the boat to the tree trunk and watched one of my guides preparing a small rope into a loop. He put his feet into the loop, jumped on to the tree and started climbing. Definitely done that before! He disappeared through the canopy and we just heard the sound of his machete cutting. Then he came sliding back down like on an elevator. He proudly handed us the large cluster of fresh berries.
Back at shore they prepared the “juice” by beating the berries in a big bucket together with water from the river. Then we had to wait for two hours for the “juice” to get ready. It tasted nothing like the smoothie across the street from home. This was pure acai juice. A little bitter, some berry taste and a little sweet and I guess, extremely healthy. If this is the way it is harvested, there is no wander they struggle to get it at home. I finished my large glass and just realized it also was my first drink of unpurefied Amazon water. That might get interesting.
Read about the encounter with a sloth in the Amazone: http://reflections.no/once-a-week/