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mercredi 23 septembre 2015


Why are people so nice to me? I asked Alejandra, the lady in charge of the Amazonas BnB where I am staying in Leticia, in Colombian Amazon, just across from Santa Rosa in Peru and alongside of Tabatinga in Brazil.
Occasionally when I am travelling I have compelling desire to say Hello to someone, which is not always the case, especially if the other is a foreigner or a tourist. As I was leaving towards the Brazilian Consulate, I saw a gentleman; in Cuba we would say he was Moreno, with no distinct nationality features. I greeted him in Spanish, only to know that he was a Kenyan Indian of Goan ancestry living in London, in charge of a NGO. Many things stood out, when was the last time, you saw an Indian migrant, who are well known for their penchant for capitalism, in charge of an NGO? Plus we were speaking in Spanish, a language he taught himself while back packed as a youth for two years all through Latin America! I knew my intuition was right to say Hello to him. We chatted for a while; I told him of the great humanitarian efforts by the Cuban Government towards other developing countries, we were both Lusophones, him having lived two years in Lisboa. He had to catch a flight to Bogota the same day, we said good bye after exchanging business cards.
When I got back from the Brazilian Consulate there was a little package waiting for me and the Manager handed it over to me, It said from Krishna Maharaj to Dr Yehuda and it was a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, I was not only touched by his gesture but the incredible coincidence of the gift, if coincidences do exist, on this evening of Yom Kippur, the day of Enlightenment where a sip of wine is not out of the holy routine. Being in the Amazonas and its very hot climate, today at 4 pm it was 34 C, 95 F and humid, wine is not the favoured or available drink. It is most welcome, Mr. Krishna Fernandes Maharaj of London, born in Nairobi of Goan parents. He told me that in his ancestral villages there are so many people, now acculturated into the Konkan way of life, who are descendants of the Portuguese conversos who escaped the Inquisition in Portugal and came to its Indian possessions. It might be interesting to study their culture, I told Mr. Krishna. I told him of Prof Eduardo Goes at USP in Sao Paolo, who gets his name from his ancestry from Portuguese Goa, even though no trace of Goa remains in his family who has lived in Brazil for generations, Mr. K responded that many dishes that they call Goan has a Brazilian origin as he was to find out when he visited various parts of the North Eastern Brazil.
It was one of the gifts of this day, Erev Yom Kippur, which I normally spend with my goods friends Dr and Mrs. W in Miami.  I would miss them and the service at Temple Israel in Miami but somehow I feel that my mission here in the Amazonas to help the Ticuna Indians, forms a part of the Cleansing on this day of repentance and reflection. Don’t worry I will have a nice dinner at El Cielo which has Amazon Fusion Cuisine and now I have a bottle to say the Bracha and I will request two candles and I carry my Cochin Kippah with me,
The other gifts were waiting in line so to speak. The people at the Brasilian Consulate including the Vice Consul were extremely friendly I wanted a ten year tourist visa to Brasil which takes two visits to the Brasilian consulate in Miami and have to wait at least 21 days. But as I was about to leave at 1230 am after completing all the formal applications on line and a photo which was slightly larger than the required 3 cm by 4 cm, they asked me sit and down and wait and few minutes later I was handed my passport. I thought they were going to ask me to come back in three days’ time, as it was written it takes that long a time, but he showed me a brand new brasilian visa stamped on to my passport valid for ten years...
A traveler would understand the significance of this occurrence which is more than ordinary.
My good Cuban friend, Ileana who is a teacher of Piano here in Leticia was waiting and we had a nice lunch together (Fish soup, fish cutlet, patacones, rice and coleslaw with orange juice). Such were our discussion about our beloved country we didn’t realize two hours had passed by.
The heat outside was unbearable still we managed to visit a few places and sit down and have some iced tea to fight against the heat.
When I arrived back at Amazon BnB, I was happy to see that I had been upgraded to a Cabana with good air conditioning, larger rooms overlooking the garden with a little lanai like the Hawaiians say with a hammock
So the New Year has begun well for me, with an excellent week with the UmonHon Indians, now a few days in this Amazonian outpost, I plan to visit some villages along the Amazon river where Cuban doctors work to give them emotional and moral support, after all I am an Unofficial Ambassador of the Cuban Republic and its people.

This blog dedicated to LBGS in Bruselas, Shmulik, Nechama, Arielle, Avital, Benjamin in USA, Leya, Rachael and Ana in Cochin

addendum 26/9/2015
Because I was in the Amazon, I might even have celebrated Yom Kippur on the wrong day. Does it truly matter? 
What matters is what you feel in your heart..
The good tidings were to continue:
An older german couple had organized a nature oriented tour of the Brasilian side of the Amazon and the Manger of the Hotel wanted to know whether I wanted to go! It was her gift to me.. We would be having lunch at Benjamin Constant, a town I had remembered from my adolescent days.. OK, I said..
The couple, especially the woman was very pleasant and they were well travelled always interested in the natural aspects rather than the cultural aspects of the places they visited, so there were no "Indian viewing" which the regular tourists insists on.. Enjoyed very much the sand beach along the Yavary river
and also had a nice visit to Benjamin Constant and made friends with an excellent Indian boatman, named Anibal.
addendum 30/09/2015
was able to catch up with my Ticuna Indian friend who made my entry into their lives easier