The Force Calls
Cipriano recounts in an interview his journey to arrive at the mission of Mestre Irineu.
Cipriano: I was born on October 12, 1935, in Belém do Pará, in a town called Primavera that was 50 hours away — over there they say 50 leagues, right? Here they say 50 hours, far from the capital. I was born there.
Guido Carioca: And what were the names of your parents?
Cipriano: My father’s name was Raimundo Carlos do Nascimento and my mother’s Anastacia Maria do Nascimento.
Guido Carioca: At the time you were born, what did your father do for a living? Was he a settler?
Cipriano: My father worked as a barber.
Guido Carioca: Did he live in the city or in the rubber plantation?
Cipriano: He lived within the city.
Guido Carioca: Until what age did you live in Belém?
Cipriano: There, in the city I was born, called Primavera, I was twelve when I left for another town along with some other people.
Guido Carioca: Which city was that?
Cipriano: Bragança. I went to live with these people in the settlements of Bragança, which was another city. I lived there for some years, after I had left at the age of 12, and when I was 19 I got married, with the very same woman I am still with today.
Guido Carioca: An eternal marriage, right?
Cipriano: Yeah … Then we spent some time in Bragança, always struggling, with difficulty, without even thinking about Acre.
Guido Carioca: If there was land over here?
Cipriano: Nor if this doctrine existed or if anything existed in this land. By the way, we’d never even heard of Acre. Until one day came Raimundo Gomes, who is now deceased, right? He is well-known here and was even president of the doctrine. He went there. He went from Acre to Belém, and he started looking for relatives on his arrival. He learned that he had many relatives where we lived, so he went there. Until there arrived the point when, asking around, he managed to find us, right? That is, the others. I was still not a relative. I was only one because I was married to his cousin. But there were other relatives — her aunt, who was his father’s sister and many others. A month after his arrival, and I do not recall how much time he spent there, he made us a proposal — if we wanted to come to Acre. He even said that it was very good here, that we could live well and that it was a peaceful place.
Guido Carioca: Did he know Mestre Irineu already?
Cipriano: He did, he drank Daime already.
Guido Carioca: Did he also speak about the Daime in Bragança?
Cipriano: No, he didn’t. Sometimes he would talk about a unique Doctrine that existed in Acre. But he could never explain it, because it is always difficult for us to explain it to people who don’t know the doctrine, right?
Guido Carioca: Exactly!
Cipriano: But here and there he always sang a hymn which was “Sun, Moon, Star”. Sometimes he went around singing the hymn, and we listened. We did not know what the upshot of it was or if there was any outcome, without us knowing what it was, but the hymn would move us… “My dear Lord! What is it that this man is singing?”
Guido Carioca: Was it very beautiful?
Cipriano: Such a beautiful song, such beautiful lyrics… All the words, I mean, belong to God… “What’s this?” But even though we did not know what it was, we also would not ask — “Hey, what is it that you’re singing? Explain it to us!” It came to the point where — because he would always sing it — when we arrived here we already knew this hymn by heart. We did not know what the consequence was, how it was going to be. Well, that is until we arranged to come with him back to Acre. We came and struggled along the way until we arrived. My family arrived first, along with him. I stayed behind, because we got to the capital [Belém] and the money ran out, things became more difficult, you know? I turned back to come later. They continued and arrived here in 1960. So I went back to Belém, to the place where I had been, in Bragança, thinking at the same time — “Good Lord! How am I going to get to Acre? How do I follow my family without any resources, nothing?” But we were unaware back then what we already know today, that the path opens for those who want to follow. People can be wherever they are, but if one has to be here, a facility exists for them to get here.
Guido Carioca: The force calls, isn’t that right?
Cipriano: The force calls. Well, I was there when a guy came from Porto Velho, a cousin of my wife and, talking to him, he said, “Listen man, if you want to go, come with me to Porto Velho. Going from Porto Velho to Acre is the easiest thing to do.” Certainly in those days it was easier, as he said, because it was closer. There wasn’t even a road, the journey had to be done by plane — “All right then.” So I accompanied him to Porto Velho and spent eight months going back and forth between Porto Velho and Guajará-Mirim, wandering around and working, but you never get anywhere working for daily rates. The only thing you accomplish is the reputation of working for so and so, but you end up with nothing. Well, I’ve always been the type of person that likes to make friends with people wherever I go. Those who want to be my friends, right?
Guido Carioca: Exactly!
Cipriano: Well, while I was there working with this guy, and before telling him my story, he said: “Talking about parties and things like that, let’s go to a party in such and such a place, this and that.” — “No man, I won’t go to a party!” — “Why not? A single guy who does not like to party?” I said no. Then I went and told him the story, how my situation was: “I can’t. You think I am single, as many people do, but I am not, I’m married, I have my responsibility.” I told the whole story to him. Then he thought for a moment and asked me: “Okay, but do you really want to go looking for your family in Acre?” — “I do. It is not so much because of the place, but because it is my family and I promised them that I would go, and I am going, I have to.” And he said: “Then I will try to get a plane ticket for you to go. Do you want that?” — “I do.” Three days later he came and said, “Let’s go to Guajará, because it will be easier from there.” And I went to Guajará. “Let’s go, because I got the ticket. The plane arrives at two in the afternoon and leaves immediately for Acre.” I complied! He arrived on a motorcycle and said, “Hop on the back.” And we went. When we arrived, he asked me to wait. He went to talk to the corporal, sergeant, I am not sure who, but people from the army who worked there — “Wait to be called.” So I waited. Then they started to call until it was my turn, and I breathed a sigh of relief — “It seems that now I’m going to Acre…”
Guido Carioca: In the plane of the Brazilian Air Force*, right?
*The Brazilian Air force has a policy of transporting the populace for free on its regular flights upon registration, especially in the remote areas of the North, Northeast and Midwest of Brazil.
Cipriano: Yeah, with the BAF… So then it was time to go, and we got on the plane. When it arrived in Porto Velho, everyone disembarked. I didn’t get off because I had neither place nor money to go anywhere, so I stayed. Then they came and announced: “Well, for those who are going to Acre, it’s time!” I was the only passenger going to Acre. Everyone else stayed in Porto Velho. I was the only one on the plane. Here and there during the flight someone from the crew would show up and ask: “So, how is everything going?” — “All right!” And then again: “How are you?” — “All right!” It was already nighttime when we arrived, and I went looking for the relatives I had here, because I had instructions to look for the Gomes family. I asked around in the city, but no one could tell me. Then I took a car and came to this road, Alberto Torres, which was a place where I knew one of my relatives lived, Guilherme Gomes.
Guido Carioca: Guilherme Gomes?!
Guido Carioca: Was it all rubber plantations at the time?
Cipriano: It was, and so I asked the driver, who said, “Yeah, I know where the Alberto Torres road is.” — “Take me there, please.” — “Okay.” On top of it all, I didn’t know where to tell him to stop the car. He got to the road, because he knew where it was.
Guido Carioca: He knew the area, right?
Cipriano: He knew that I wanted to go there, but without any directions, because I did not know where he lived.
Guido Carioca: The right place to stop, right?
Cipriano: I had no idea in which house he lived, but to facilitate things, as I said, we always receive some help. There was a bridge right next to the house of Guilherme.
Guido Carioca: Of Guilherme?
Cipriano: You had to cross a creek to get there. After you crossed the bridge, his house was just a bit further on. There, as it happens, was an animal on the bridge, and it was run over by the car. “What’s that?” — “I don’t know. Let’s check it out.” It was already dark, and the animal was an opossum. Boy! City people, right? “It is an opossum.” And we kept arguing — “This is not an opossum.” — “It is an opossum.” Well, meanwhile a man comes walking by, and I ask: “Excuse me, do you live here?” – “I live right over there.” — “By any chance do you know a man called Guilherme?” I didn’t even mention the surname. And he said: “Ah! Seu Guilherme lives right over there. That house is his.” He pointed to the house.
Guido Carioca: Could you see the house?
Cipriano: Yes, I could.
Guido Carioca: Were you going to miss it?
Cipriano: We were — “Yes, sir, thank you.” The driver turned around and left and I stayed. I walked to the house and the wife of the late Guilherme came out.
Guido Carioca: What was the name of his wife?
Cipriano: The same one.
Guido Carioca: Ah, Mrs. Maria.
Cipriano: Then I asked: “Is Guilherme home?” — “He’s not, he’s out. Do you want to talk to him?” — “Yes ma’am, I do.” — “Come in for a little while then. He works down the street, but it is about time for him to come home. You sit tight, because I’m busy here in the kitchen, but I’ll talk to you shortly.” — “Yes, ma’am.” And I waited. Soon after he arrived and I introduced myself. This was all fine then, and after that it was all good. The next day he sent me here. He was already taking responsibility for me, upon my arrival…
Guido Carioca: He brought you here.
Cipriano: He was responsible for bringing me to Leôncio, and the rest of the family lived here in the rubber plantation, in the Chapada. They were already there. Then we went to see Leôncio, very early in the morning, and I told him who I was and it was all settled, I was taken care of.
Guido Carioca: He took you into the family.
Cipriano: Yes, into the family, and he asked: “Do you want to go today?” — “Yes. If possible I do.” — “Okay, so let’s have breakfast first.” When it was time to leave, he told me: “We have to go and see Padrinho Irineu. This is how we do things here. You have to notify him. You have to introduce yourself to him. Since you weren’t expected, you have to go there.” Very well then, I did not know who Mestre Irineu was. Since he said that I had to introduce myself to him, I thought: “This Mestre Irineu is a great authority here. They have a consideration for him, since they have to include him in things in advance; that I have already arrived.” I was heading for where the others were, so I thought — “He is a great authority, to whom everyone has much consideration and respect.” Okay, and we went. Mestre was sharpening two machetes, because he always worked with two machetes, right? He would sharpen one to keep in its sheath, and the other he would carry in his hand to work with. When that one became blunt, he would unsheathe the other to work with. Well, Leôncio introduced me when we arrived. We then had a coffee. Afterwards Leôncio said: “Padrinho, we have to leave.” — “Okay, go with God.” With that manner of his, right? This is how I met him.
Interview with Cipriano Carlos do Nascimento in September 1993. Department of Historical Heritage of Acre State / Elias Mansour Foundation. English review by Moonvine.