Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9 - Day 4

We had a beautiful sunrise this morning – We have a full day ahead of us.  After breakfast we will set off to the Sua Community again….. First we stopped by the parrot clay lick and saw the blue & green macaws, parakeets and it was a great experience.  We traveled up river a bit further to our next stop, dressed in our rubber boots (provided by the lodge) we disembark our canoe for a nature hike to learn about the different plants and how one can survive in the woods and how they have for years.  It was about 3 hour hike – the trails were good, not a lot of hills to climb.  We saw many different animals – fresh jaguar paw prints chasing a deer, leaf cutter ants, learned how the different plants can help shelter you as well as feed you.  Rested a bit at a small waterfall – well maybe it would be larger during the rainy season, but we learned about how the Achuar people lived.  We returned to our canoe to finish our journey to the Sua community.  We had lunch and again went over the rules for the visit to the leaders’ home.  No photographs are to be taken, avoid any physical contact with the members of the community, do not enter an Achuar house without an invitation.  The Achuar are very jealous, if you are a man you are not to look directly at a woman’s face, Nijiamanch (chicha) the manioc beer is always offered, refusing might be considered an insult.  If you do not like this drink, just hold the bowl on your hands.  So knowing this we arrived at the house.  Three things we needed to remember to say. . .  “Wina jai”, which means Good Morning or Good Afternoon; “Wea jai” meaning Goodbye and “Maketai” which is Thank you.  Good manners for us all. 
Our guide Simone spoke to the master of the house and he invited us in.  We entered all saying Wina jai and he responded the same. 
The house has two areas, the “tankamash” and the “ekent”.  The tankamash is primarily the living area where the master sits on a wood carved seat as he receives his guests.  The women service chicha to the guests.  In the ekent you will find beds for the women & children.  Also a fireplace is located and all the meals are made including the chicha. 
We sat a few minutes as the master was weaving a basket and he a Simone chatted.  We were served the chicha and YES, I just held the bowl as one sniff of this was enough for me!  We then introduced ourselves and what we did and why we were there.  After this we could then ask any questions we could think of.   We asked about the community and the culture as this was part of the reason for our visit.  He played his flute for us and told us about his family.  We were then visited by other women in the community with their handicrafts.  They placed their hard work on large banana leaves and the money goes to candles, batteries and school supplies for the children.  Kapawi also assist with the studies for the children in all the surrounding communities. 
We soon left as we had to set up our tents for camping before night fall, but was reminded that he would see us at for our Guayusa ceremony.  We got to our campsites and the guides began putting up the tents as we went for a swim in a small swimming hole.  Guess it had been a while since they visited this community, as the swimming hole was just a bit of water.  It did not look very inviting.  (they visit several different communities – they are on a rotation – so no community gets much tourist interaction)  We then asked if we could swim in the river – so that is exactly what we did!  The current was very strong and the water was very cold, which felt great.  Now I am not much of a swimmer so I slowly got in and enjoyed the cold water, a great contrast from the heat of the Amazon!  We had another beautiful sunset as we were enjoying the water and soon I was ready to get out of the river and dry off.  We had a wonderful dinner by candlelight and as it was dark – we were off to bed in our tents.  I want to add here – the last time I camped was about 33 years ago….. 

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