Yesterday I was able to tag along to a meeting at Wayusentsa.
It took an hour and a half going fast up the Pastaza
River. The driver is very skilled. He has to know where there are obstacles in the ever -changing water. There is also a person at the front of the boat, giving signals. With the flux in the river depth and new branches swept in, it is a challenge. We saw a lot of birds; I am actually able to identify many of them!
I was not able to take photographs of them as we were going too fast.
But the reflections of the trees on the water were magnificent and photographable.
We saw several people in canoes; one boy of about 10 was out by himself. I think I was an overprotective Mom! These kids start using machetes to chop sugar cane and lianas around two! It started to rain hard before we arrived, the past several days have been rainy, I have not been able to dry out my walking shoes yet. And one shirt has mildewed while hanging to dry.
Anyway, our arrival point was a steep and slippery bank, with steps cut into it. The community members run up and down this with little difficulty. I had to have help up. (Coming back down was even worse). The meeting was in progress when we arrived at the casa comunal (community center). Several Sindicos (community mayors) greeted us. Celestine, Bill and my guide from two years ago gave me a big hug. So nice to see him. We situated ourselves on the guest benches and were served chicha. Then the meeting continued. One topic was about dealing with pressure for oil development. Unfortunately I did not have an interpreter. After the first part of the meeting, there was a break. I gave the women sewing kits and the children pencils, but the were most curious about the photograph album I brought of family, the desert and the dogs. They really get a laugh with the dog photos because their dogs are not pets; they are used for hunting and have to fend for themselves. They were curious about my family. Then we were served lunch. First banana leaves were cut and spread on the only table for us. From the various houses, they carried over huge pots of soup, boiled manioc and green bananas. The soup had a nice smoky flavor, lightly salted. It was made from the peccary the men had hunted. It was boiled with manioc, skin and all. The meat was tasty. I did not eat the skin and bristles. Once the soup cooled, it began to thicken, so it is best to e eat it while it is hot! After the meal, we headed home. It was a nice visit. I always learn something new. A shock when I arrived at my room. Both beds were gone.
The hotel has a very large group coming and they have been moving the beds to the guest rooms. Fortunately a substitute did arrive
Today is operations day, arrival of the big group. The entire staff and extra guides have been working to get everything ready. The activities had to be coordinated, the rooms ready… I have been shuffling between my room and the staff dining room to try to write. I can get Internet at the dining room. It seems that Pedro is my new room mate, Blanca from the Quito office was my roommate for the past two nights. There is no more space for beds! It has been phenomenal watching the staff build furniture with minimal tools. They are very skilled and multi talented. they have redone the cabins to accomodate the guests in style. This morning was white rice and fried eggs, chicken giblet soup and a meat sauté with white rice. Pedro arrived with 4 apples and a chocolate bar for me! What a treat. And the chief gave me a bit of cuisine from the guest menu, too. I am not starving, just tired of white rice! The afternoon has been sunny so I put out my shoes to dry, and found a huge walking stick, as long as my foot. So, back to the writing… no interviews today. walking about for a break, I found the same walking stick, but this time with a mate. Very interesting to see the smaller green male on the large female. Change again. Pedro was moved in with the manager. Makes life a lot easier! It is thundering and lightning all around tonight. There is an activity planed for the guests at the staff quatral, but it may get rained out. It is the Achuar warrior dance. Hope it works. I am trying to get every bit of information I can before I leave. Tuesday is a going away party for Vanessa at Kusutkau, and Thursday is cultural night for the guests. I am invited to that one. I still need to see weaving. we will see how much I can see. It is only Sunday and Friday I leave...