I hope I can accurately document my experiences in Brazil and share my knowledge with other educators. The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Project offers an extremely unique opportunity for a special educator. The need for both leaders and educators in special education to develop a global perspective of their field and an international understanding for policies and procedures abroad is imperative. Opportunities to learn from educators, government officials and inhabitants of countries promoting large education initiatives, especially those targeting students with disabilities and individuals who require alternative teaching methods, offer invaluable information about the country’s perception of special education, the disabled population, and what role culture plays in educating individuals with disabilities. Mutual understanding and learning amongst educators in this field is critical to the development of programs that will meet the unique needs of diverse populations.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The Amazon (Manaus Sunday, June 27, 2010)
Today was an absolutely amazing day! We boarded a boat that took us down the Rio Negro. It was a large 2 level boat that was part of a routine tourist attraction. The boat traveled for nearly an hour and a half until we reached the point where the Rio Negro and the Solimoes (the black and white rivers) met. The point where the Rio Negro and the Solimoes meet is where the Amazon begins. It was a marvelous site. The lines separating the waters from both rivers was very distinct, one side appeared white while the other appeared black. This is actually due to the different types of sediment in each river. Dolphins could be seen swimming in the waters alongside the boat. The scenery was lush and green and small houses could sometimes be seen on the edge of the water. We continued our journey on the large boat until we reached a floating restaurant and shop along the shore. We stopped and were loaded onto small motorboats that held around 10 people each.
As we walked down the ramp alongside the Amazon, we were instructed to step inside the boats. Don, a member of our group, reached out for the back of a seat to stabilize himself as he stepped in and immediately fell into the hull of the boat. I was directly behind him and was relieved he had not fallen into the water. A former member of the military, he brushed himself off and took his seat. I sat on the bench seat next to him and began to ask if he was okay, when I heard Maggie, another member from our group exclaim that he was bleeding. I grabbed my backpack and reached for the mini first aid kit that my twelve year old daughter insisted I take (thank you Emma). Blood was slowly seeping from his forearm, just above his elbow. I opened a disinfectant wipe and held it against the wound. Maggie passed some tissue forward and I applied pressure to Don’s arm as the boat pulled away. After a few minutes I forced myself to look at the wound. It was immediately obvious that it was quite deep. I felt as though Don would need to see a doctor, but we were currently boating into a small estuary off the Amazon and it seemed that Maggie and I were Don’s best hope of medical care for many hours. I continued to apply pressure, used a disinfectant wet wipe to kill as much bacteria as possible and bandaged the wound with some gauze and Band-Aids.
The remainder of the boat trip was incredible. I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined I would be boating through the Amazon. We viewed enormous trees, beautiful wildlife, and exotic plants. I took a water bottle from my backpack, emptied its contents and collected a large sample of water. (My husband’s only wish was water from the Amazon.) Although it may not make it through customs, I felt pleased with the idea of bringing water from the Amazon home. We soon returned to the floating restaurant and shop, ate lunch and began a walk along a very long and narrow bridge. It ended in the midst of huge lilly pads and purple flowers. A caiman waded in the water with its body partly submerged and its eyes peering at people taking its picture. We were soon instructed to make our way back to the boat and began our journey back to Manaus. This excursion took most of the day. Sunburned and exhausted I was happy to be back at the hotel.
Don was taken to a local medical clinic and received 5 stitches!!!! Healthcare is free in Brazil so it was quite interesting to hear about Don’s experience at the clinic. He was gone for maybe an hour and admitted that it took longer to walk from the hotel to the clinic and back than to see a doctor. The doctor gave Don some antibiotic injections, numbed the site and stitched up the wound. She instructed Don to have the hotel nurse change his bandages each day and have the stitches removed in 6 days.
Great to be in the Amazon!