This jewel bug (Euchroma gigantea) is the perfect insect to illustrate the beauty, rareness and fragility of the biggest rainforest on the planet: the Amazon.
Like the Waorani, lets fight to keep it!
So this is it.
My time with the Waorani has ended after a total of 9 months living in Ecuador and in the Waorani Territory. During that time I met amazing people, learnt every day, saw incredible things, smelt delicious flowers, got scared, was sad, was happy, laughed, taught, travelled and the list never ends. There have been so many experiences, so many people, so many things.
I would like to personally thank first of all Ciara Wirth and Emilio Rojas Echeveria, without whom none of this would have been possible, for their patience, understanding and care, and for all the hard work they have done and keep doing in Keweri’Ono with the school. The Waoranis for just being themselves, their excellent skills in teaching others, their good sense of humor and never ending happiness, and of course for being rightfully such proud people willing to fight to preserve their forest and everything it represents. I would also like to thank my friend Krisitina Csevtich who was always there for a good laugh and a chat in Quito; my amazing Ecuadorian friend Maria José Guzman for her listening and for being there each time I came back from the jungle. Gabo Vidal for putting a smile on my face each time he came with a group of tourists to visit the community. Jose Zambrano for his good sense of humor and knowledge of the Waorani. Xavier Nera for his support via Tropic, his positive attitude and his trust. My friend Juan Paredes for his constant support when I had troubles and for his delicious coffees; Segundo Moreno for his perfect driving and his interesting conversations to and throe the bridge; the Rio Napo team in Coca for their endless logistics support; Omar Tello, Adela Tobar and Anne Sibran for being such an inspiration and finally, all my other friends in Ecuador who have made my time there so amazing. I miss all of you but will come back!
Making a canoe is a very long process. It takes between 2 weeks (at best) and 2 months to make one.
Canoes are used for transport and travel.
To make a canoe you have to cut down a specific tree, make the canoe on location, bring it back to the community and prepare it there. A fire is lit under and around the canoe in order for the flames to burn the blisters and waterproof the structure. The canoe is then scraped before finally being ready to go. If any extra bit needs to be added, this is done with bees wax.
Canoes are not traditionally used by the Waorani as the last used to live on what is called “terra firme" or the high lands of the Amazon basin, before they were pushed by neighboring indigenous groups and colons. Streams there are to low or small for a canoe to be useful.
As much as dogs were never part of Waorani life, since the contact with the “outside world”, the Waoranis have very much adopted man’s best friend.
The difference between how they perceive their dogs and how we perceive our dogs (for most of us) is that their dogs have for only purpose that of hunting. This is why dogs in the jungle are given very little food, sleep outside and are not very well looked after. Waorani families now have impressive numbers of them, increasing the number of chances of having good hunting dogs.
This has affected the way they hunt and could have a slight impact on the local fauna.
Nevertheless, dogs are great company and also bark when intruders or felines sneak around…
Waoranis women are the only ones allowed to make clay pots. It is bad luck for men to simply touch fresh clay.
Pots are simply cooked on the fire. They are mostly never decorated but some can be find to have zigzag engravings on the edge.
Mois’ mother. A traditional Waorani woman. Straight fringe, long hair and Balsa wood earrings.
The cotton used to light the fire is from tree cotton. Generally Kapok cotton.
Traditional Waorani lifestyle.
Let us enter the Waorani home.
It’s been a whole day walking in the forest. The women brought back fish and chigra palm, which they will use to make the strings, so useful in the creation of Waorani articraft (hammocks, bags, blow gun equipment, necklaces, etc.), the children filled their chigra bags full of tree fruit, whilst the men successfully hunted a woolly monkey and two collared peccaries.
Everybody is tired but there is still a lot to do!
Men start the fire in order to prepare the meat, women work the chigra palm or prepare chicha and children learn from their elders the songs, legends and savoir-faire of the Waorani culture.
Soon it will be night time. On the floor, the skins of fruit eaten earlier by all the family litter the floor, the meat is ready, the plantain and yuca cooked. Chicha is being served by the mother of the family. Women are tending to their new borns and fathers playing with their children or preparing their hunting gear. The palm leafed house is lit by the fire and smoke fills the house.
What a strange little plant… What could it be?
This small, almost coniferous-looking, tree is a Kapok tree beginning its life! The Kapok tree is the highest tree of the Amazon rainforest. Reaching up to 70 meters high, it is also the most important tree in most of the Amazon basin indigenous tribes cosmo-vision. Some of you will know it as the Pachamama tree or the tree of life.