For the past month we have been navigating the Amazon, heading against the current from central Amazonia in Manaus (Brazil) to the edge of the Andes in Pucallpa (Peru).
We flew to Manaus in early November and spent 5 days in the city making connections to some indigenous organisations and supporters. Firstly we visited the Waimiri Atroari Program who have a museum, a small shop and their offices located a short bus ride from the city centre. We spent our afternoon talking to the volunteers and a few Waimiri Atroari men who had travelled to the city from their territory 10 hours + to the north. The program together with the bravery of the Waimiri Atroari people have for the past decades fought against invaders to their land. From the impact of 3 major projects; BR 174 Road – Manaus to Boa Vista, the Pitinga Mineral Project and the Electronorte Hydroelectric plant.
Photo – Homero Martins (ISA)
With the objective of compensating the environmental and socio-cultural impacts resulting from these projects, the Waimiri Atroari program was created with focus in the areas of health, education, environmental protection, production activities and cultural valorisation. As a result of these actions they have managed to get rid of the violent process of loss of culture through which most of the indigenous peoples pass after indiscriminate contact with non indigenous people. Today, they all speak their mother tongue while maintaining traditional culture; living in circular villages composed of large collective malocas where they live from hunting, fishing and traditional agriculture.
Also in Manaus we visited the brilliant Galeria Amazônica located on the central plaza who also work with the arts produced by the Waimiri Atroari but who also feature a selection of indigenous art from many different ethnic groups. If you are ever in Manaus you must pop by and say ‘Hola’!
On the other hand, when in Manaus please do not give the time to visit the very poor self titled ‘Museo do Indio’ which gives an extremely outdated and misleading insight into tribal life. With time, we recommend a visit to the ‘Centro Cultural dos Povos Amazonia’ which offers excellent guides who can give you an authentic impression to contemporary indigenous culture.
A 600 year old Angelim Pedra tree in Manaus, Photo by Tui Anandi.
After leaving Manaus we travelled for 1 week by boat as we meandered towards the tri-border of Brazil, Colombia and Peru. A few snaps from the boat journey here:
After arriving in Letecia, we quickly took a boat to a small Ticuna community called Gamboa just 30 minutes from the city. Here we spent 4 days getting to know Ticuna culture by staying with the village chief ‘Terturiano’ in his small stilted home.
Our days were spent walking through the jungle, fishing, helping in home improvements and above all talking about the rich Ticuna culture. The Ticuna are one of the most populous tribes in Amazonia with a combined population of over 50,000 with their vast territory in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. To read more about the Ticuna please follow this link.
A photo gallery of our time with the Ticuna can be viewed below, all images captured by Tui Anandi.
A selection of Ticuna arts can be found via the Xapiri gallery, please follow this link to shop.
The next stop up river was the largest metropolis in the Peruvian Amazon, Iquitos ! A manic town full of tours and ayahuasca retreats, we spent a few days visiting museums before finding the need to get back on the river. From Iquitos we took a 8 day boat south on the Ucayali river to Pucallpa, gradually winding our way south through the dense jungle.
Pucallpa was our final stop where we were excited to meet Alianza Arkana, an organisation working with a number of Shipibo indigenous communities in the region. We are currently discussing a partnership together to promote and develop Shipibo arts.. stay tuned!
Many amazing connections have been made and we are excited to develop our relationships both with the indigenous people directly and the organisations who work closely with them.
We are currently in Cusco, so if you are here or visiting, please do get in touch!
More news soon, with peace and love,