BFF-23 Tefe, a town afloat in the Brazilian Amazon

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BFF-23

BRAZIL-ENVIRONMENT-AMAZON-TEFE

Tefe, a town afloat in the Brazilian Amazon

TEFE, Brazil, Aug 16, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – To get around town, the 60,000
people of Tefe — in the heart of Brazil’s Amazon — hop into boats. Even the
outside world is only reachable by water or air.

Situated around 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of the jungle city of
Manaus, capital of Amazonas state, Tefe is the last outpost of civilization
for scientists working at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve.

There are two options to get here: by air, on a 50-minute flight from
Manaus to the small local airstrip; or by river, a three-day boat ride. All
goods come in through the river network, from fruit and furniture to
television antennas.

“It’s not a good idea to have a car. To get around town, the river is the
only way,” said Joao, 65, who pilots one the dozens of motorboats known as
“fliers” that criss-cross town.

Each one carries six to eight people, who must get in and out carefully to
avoid tipping the boats over.

A ride within town limits costs one real (26 cents). But leaving Tefe is
another matter.

“For that, everyone has their own boat, even if it has a homemade motor,”
said Joao, holding a parasol in his hand to protect his passengers from the
hot sun.

His “flier,” with its engine taken from a motorbike, fits five passengers.

The buzz of boat engines mixes with the cries of street vendors flogging
DVDs or acai, a local fruit, to create a sort of soundtrack for the town.

The local electricity station runs on expensive, polluting diesel fuel
shipped in from Manaus. Internet access comes via satellite link.

The Mamiraua Institute shares a connection of barely six megabytes among
its 300 workers in Tefe and in the floating houses that serve as research
centers and residences in the middle of the reserve, which covers 1.124
million hectares (2.8 million acres).

BSS/AFP/FI/ 1005 hrs