“I had never embarked on any kind of boat, never spent any time on a river. Getting to work that season on the Xeruini was the most beautiful experience of my life, seeing a fantastic river, meeting amazing people – I will be always grateful for that.”
It would sound like a cliché but our work sometimes gets to help change lives. You will come across stories of people that turned from loggers, turtle hunters or even “motoboys” into ultimate fly fishing guides in the middle of the Amazon. Collecting stories for the Bucket List Reel has already made quite a few people drop a tear. One short, but very emotional story is particularly important for our team. Meet Juliana Moreno – a poor Venezuelan girl that had never touched a river and became one of our signature fly tiers.
We met Juliana thanks to Neto, our Amazon Operations head guide. Neto lives in Caracaraí, a town on the Rio Branco near the Venezuelan border. Juliana is from Venezuela and was doing everything possible to move her family away from the incredibly bad situation there.
She was born on January 25th, 1993, in Ciudad Guayana – Puerto Ordaz. She came to Brazil on January 29th, 2015. The idea was, like for many Venezuelans at the time, to find a better place to live and a job that could help their family. Julianna had found a position as a waitress at a Pizzeria in Caracarai, a small town in Brazil on the Rio Branco near the Venezuelan border. Before the move Julianna and her family were really struggling to survive amid the complete demise of the Venezuelan economy. For an idea of how bad it was, people there were on rations and could only receive milk once a month, cooking oil every two months and a roll of toilet paper every 90 days. It was only getting worse. So imagine, a 22 year old beautiful, petite Venezuelan girl who was already a single mother, stepping on a bus for a foreign country, leaving her kids behind with her mom to try and save her family.
The job in Brazil was told to include room and board, food at the restaurant and pay. What she did not know is that the pay would be negligible. It was not near enough. Luckily, Julianna would soon meet Abraao (Neto’s cousin) and Venessa, his wife. The two would help Julianna in many ways. First she would meet a lady who owned a take-out restaurant that supplied food to businesses, truck drivers and the general public. Julianna was hired to work there doing just about everything. Julianna was working 15 hours a day now 7 days a week and still working part time at the Pizza place to keep her room and board. Eventually her new friends would show her how to get health care, help her find a place to live on her own and how to get schooling for her kids. Now it was time for Julianna to make the trip back to Venezuela to get the family.