Radio Silence

On the journey home from Regua. We hit radio silence about 1pm yesterday, apart from a brief moment deep in the forest, high up in the mountains. We got disconnected and so did the trees and so our live update didn’t work, all good experiments for future work.

But we lost contact just as the mountains began to loom through the heavy misty air, clouds drifting in and around the dark shapes on the horizon, grey green forest appearing amongst the agriculture that has replaced the majority of the forest on the low lands.

The journey was tough, difficult roads, little signage. We jiggled about in the back of the van, watching the forest reveal itself beyond the farmland and villages. Silvia and Pedro bounced about in the little blue VW beetle in front, both with music blaring. Our road trip.

Lots of dust roads and weaving the car and van around puddles and holes in the road. Then turning around and weaving back as we took the wrong turn.

We arrived bleary eyed and amazed at the beauty of the landscape, despite the clouds and tropical rain.

Rachel introduced herself and her volunteers and we settled into the small researchers house (once a milking shed when the farm was a dairy farm). The farm has been in her husband’s family for over 100 years, they are British settlers here in the Mata Atlantica, Macacu region. In the 80s they set up an NGO and conversation project, it is mammoth, restoring 1000 trees per hectare across a vast area of hills and lowland. What is left of primary Mata Atlantica is on the steep hills of the mountains, it is shocking that farming reaches the bottom of these steep hills, with only small patches of forest left.

The work of Dora from IGB and Regua is changing the forest slowly and in small but inspiring steps. Models and ideas for a sustainable future are being tested and real results are happening, it is wonderful to end the residency in such a positive space, although clear that this is part of a much greater whole. With a dam and a Petrobas plant due to be built along the Macacu river and in the region there are many threats and issues that surround this place of rejuvenation, growth, renewal… and intense beauty.