Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

30 November 2007

Someone pinch me

I discovered this great thing called NaBloPoMo over on Belgian Waffle's site. Basically, you have to post at least one entry a day for all of November. I'm getting a late start, but I'll give it a go.

So much has happened in the International Cloister this month that there isn't room in this post to recount all. I could create several posts, but that would be like work so I'll just be selective instead.

The month began with a series of meetings with the Conferences* of our Order in the America's. The first meeting, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was with the two Spanish-speaking Conferences of Latin America. The second meeting was with the North American Conference, which was held in Tampa, Florida. The third meeting was in Manaus, Brazil, with the Brazilian-speaking Conference of Latin America.

The venue of the last meeting was by far the most interesting. Manaus is located at the edge of the Amazon rainforest and is where the Rio Negro and the Solimoes River combine to form the Amazon River. I knew the Amazon was a big river, but you cannot imagine how large until you see the large freighters anchored there—a 1000 kilometers from the ocean!

We had the privilege of spending half a day on someone's yacht (I was told it belonged to the former governor of the state of Amazzonia). They took us out to the spot where the two rivers meet. I hear you thinking, "ho hum", but it was really amazing. The Rio Negro is so named because it picks up a lot of organic material as it passes through the forest, and that, combined with its great depth, makes the water appear black. The Solimoes, on the other hand, picks up a lot of clay from the riverbed, which makes the water yellow. This is what happens when they meet:

The green area at the top of the picture is the last piece of land separating the two rivers, which was about a kilometer away from where this picture was taken. That little red speck just above and to the left of the picture's center is another boat, which should give you a sense of proportion. The very clear demarcation between the two rivers continues for several more kilometers downstream. I found it fascinating, but that's what happens when you are denied access to Internet porn. Anyway, that's a story for another day.

Just when I thought life could not get any better, I saw a pink dolphin in the water. After checking the alcoholic content on my can of beer, I timidly mentioned to another brother that I saw what appeared to be a pink dolphin in the water. Much scoffing. But, my friends, it was not the beer, and here's the proof!

Granted, it doesn't look much like a dolphin in this picture, but the sky was overcast and the dolphins were fast, making it difficult to get a good picture. I think Brazil is one of the few places in the world to have fresh water dolphins so I feel privileged to have seen one. I wanted to swim with the dolphins, but 1) I didn't have a bathing suit with me and, despite what you might have heard about Brazilians, they don't really approve of skinny dipping, and 2) I was told that if you swam with the dolphins you would also have to swim with the piranha, putting any protuding body parts at risk of mastication (see above re: no bathing suit).
It was a great experience. The icing on the cake was that on the flight back to Rome, I earned my Star Alliance gold card, which means no more waiting in long lines and at least a chance of getting into the much coveted business class section once in a while. Adios, hoi poloi! Bwahaha!

* Our Order is divided into distinct geographical territories called either provinces, vice provinces or custodies depending on their size. A Conference is a group of provinces, vice provinces and custodies in a particular area of the world, which provides a forum for the leaders of those provinces, etc. to discuss similar issues. Although it is not an authoritative body, participating members can work on common policies.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anne said...

Humph. Too busy eh? You and your rivers..if you get one of the NaBloPoMo prizes, there will be trouble.

29 November, 2007 23:21  
Blogger Open Grove Claudia said...

You are so funny. I think you rocked the Micro blah blah blog diarrhea this year. Shall I nominate you?? I do miss knowing how you are... and wish you'd write more....

01 December, 2007 00:16  
Anonymous pog said...

Somebody should've given that dolphin some Factor 30, BroLo.

03 December, 2007 14:28  
Anonymous pog said...

Merry Christmas BroLo!

21 December, 2007 18:40  
Blogger Moobs said...

Beginning to miss you quite badly mate.

12 January, 2008 03:03  
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02 May, 2009 11:43  

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