Beira da Ribeira in Second Life

Beira da Ribeira – March 2021

Recently opened in Second Life is a new region design by and Fred Hamilton (frecoi) and Lotus Mastroianni. Beira da Ribeira (roughly translated at “border river” or “riverside border”) is a lush forest setting strongly suggestive of the Amazon rain forest that is both simple in presentation and yet layered in potential message.

Cut into three main and unequal parts by the passage of water, the region’s two larger landmasses are home to a rich rain forest style environment – tall trees offering high canopies that leave the land below so in shade that little else has the opportunity to gain either the height of the trees or the density of their foliage. Instead, the ground is given over to a tangle of roots, ferns and low-lying shrubs through which natural trails speak to the passage of wildlife among the  shadows.

Beira da Ribeira – March 2021

Between these two arms of the forest and sitting with a fork of the river, is a pair of islands, the larger of the two forming the third principal land mass. It  is separated from the smaller island suggests by a shallow channel of water that suggests they were once joined, but have separated perhaps as a result of rising waters – perhaps the result of seasonal rains.

That rainfall  is liable to be a factor here is shown by the fact that the little village that has grown on these islands (and extends along one bank of the river) is raised up on long-legged platforms. Made of rough-cut boards, it comprises simple houses and structures  made of whatever materials came to hand: wood, corrugated metal, clay tiles …

Beira da Ribeira – March 2021

Those who built the village appear to live off the waters around them and responsibly use available timbers for their boats and buildings (the logos around the town indicate the villagers are licensed to use local wood), while their lifestyle presents a curious mix: the buildings are all clearly hand-made, somewhat makeshift, but they are not without modern amenities: a generator sits on one palette, providing power together with the solar panels located at the far end of the village. Also, a row of water butts are racked over the generator, apparently drawing clean, drinkable water from somewhere well beneath the river.

Beira da Ribeira – March 2021

Even so, and despite the power and the presence of a little café-bar, it’s fairly evident that this is not a wealthy place; it merely sits in the passage of wealth that passes overhead in the form of microwave communications being relayed by the tall mast rising from a nearby hill. But as poor as it might appear, the village carries with it a strange sense of warmth and homeliness that is attractive.

Its presence also speaks to the changing times within the the Amazon: close by within a clearing is a trio of thatched huts that bring to mind the tribal heritage of the Amazon basin, a heritage that – thanks to the arrival of “civilisation” – has in places migrated over time to places like the riverside village, gradually adopting modern abilities as and where they can.

Beira da Ribeira – March 2021

The landing point for the reason sits to the north-west and is a reminder of the manner in which the rain forest is being exploited  – be it for wood, to create room for agriculture or the extraction of other natural resources. It presents a tract of land entirely denuded of trees, the ground laid bare to the ravages of the wind, former tree trunks, cut and sized, either aboard ship ready for transport or piles awaiting their turn for shipment.

While it is far from clear, the float plane moored by the town might belong to those responsible for the deforestation; it’s unlikely it belongs to anyone living in the town – although it might just be responsible for bringing curious tourists to the basin, hence the café-bar with its two neatly-kept dormitory rooms.

Rich in detail – particularly throughout the village – with birds, animals and reptiles also awaiting discovery, Beira da Ribeira is a fascinating, natural setting which – as with all builds be Lotus and Fred – offer plenty of opportunities for photography.

Beira da Ribeira – March 2021

My thanks to Shawn Shakespeare for the pointer!

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