In the Amazon of Brazil a Santa Claus distributes gifts by boat

Manaus, Brazil | AFP | In the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, Santa Claus travels in a large motor boat, greeting the children who are eagerly waiting for him on the shore.

Her red and white dress contrasts with the emerald green of the world’s largest tropical forest and the brown waters of the Solimoes River.

“Merry Christmas!” He exclaimed before disembarking, waving a bell, in the town of Paraná da Terra Nova, 24 km from Manaus, the largest Amazonian metropolis.

As part of an operation by the Amigos do Papai Noel association, he meets the poor communities of “Ribeirinhos”, families who live on the banks of the river, 24 km from Manaus.

When he finally sets foot on land, after three hours of sailing, this special Santa Claus opens his arms to welcome the little ones who run towards him.

“We can’t change the world, but we can make children smile at Christmas,” Jorge Alberto, 57, clad in his thick suit, his hat with pompoms and his fake beard, told AFP despite the sweltering heat.

To bring gifts to those who live in the most remote areas, you sometimes have to face a real obstacle course.

Having borrowed a small boat to venture into a particularly narrow bend in the river, he walks unsteadily over a makeshift bridge made of unreassuring planks.

But when the Amazonian Santa Claus arrives at his destination, the reward is there: the smile from ear to ear of children who forget their harsh reality for a while, in a region severely affected by the covid-19 pandemic.

“Our challenge is to get where no one is going. We not only come to distribute gifts, we come to bring joy,” explains Denise Kassama, 50, coordinator of this project that aims to benefit 4,000 children between now and Christmas.

The torrential rain that fell at the end of the day did not dampen the enthusiasm of the volunteers, who organized games and makeup workshops.

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