After two days in Rio, it was time to make our way up to the Amazon Rainforest. After a full day of travel we landed in Macapa located at the mouth of the Amazon River Estuary and referred to by residents as “the capital of the middle of the world” given the equator runs right through the middle of the city. It is here that riverboats come down from the villages throughout the state of Amapá to unload fresh açaí on the docks of the Sambazon factory and local markets.
We spent the day capturing some great footage at the docks and throughout Macapá. Boats are loaded with hand woven baskets, carried up our docks and unloaded into crates which are quickly brought over to our factory to beginning processing. In town, local vendors hang red flags or signs outside their stores to indicate they are serving fresh acai. We made sure to sample some fresh açaí from a local vendor straight out of a batedeira.
Another day based in Macapà found us renting a boat to access the local village of Caconga. Coconga is a small community that harvests açaí. Here we met with a local farmer to show us first hand how it’s done using the classic tools of the trade. With only a machete, sling of rope and a bit of courage, farmers climb up 40’ towering palms.
Once the farmer slides back down with the phrom, they remove the berries into a hand woven basket. From here, baskets will be brought down river via canoe to be picked up by the larger riverboats.
Our last visit in Macapá was to a local brick making manufacturer. Açaí fruit is 95%+ seed leaving only a thin layer of highly nutritious pulp and skin. This leaves a large amount of seed byproduct after our berries are processed into fresh puree and then frozen. We’ve partnered with this local brick manufacturer to sustainably repurpose the seeds.
Mountain of seeds are donated to the factories who burn the seeds in massive kilns to produce bricks. These efforts provide an alternative to burning virgin trees, saving over 200,000 cubic feet of wood per year, equal to the size of 10 football fields!
While one more night at the Ceta Eco-hotel would have been nice, we had to catch a local riverboat departing at 1am to the community of Limão do Curuá. Here we would meet up with the Whole Foods crew and help finish up construction of this years school project.