I love the hour before dawn at Brillo Nuevo when a plethora of birds announce their presence to the world. I can ID a few chirps, and my science brain knows they are competing more than cooperating in the auditory realm, but I don’t care. It’s a glorious way to slowly wake up in my hammock.
In the course of our week in the Ampiyacu, I saw a small parrot intently chewing a USB cable attached to an inverter. A white-throated toucan named Nancho comically hopped around making clicking sounds. I said a silent prayer and duly photographed a bright crimson tanager that a boy had casually killed with his sling shot. I only caught one small piraña on a long hot morning fishing, but I was very happy when a mottled brown butterfly landed on my arm to leisurely sip my sweat. I marveled how evolution had produced a triangular butterfly with fake eyes at its rear.
I love wildlife, but I developed a deep affection for a little brown dog who hung around our house in Brillo Nuevo. She didn’t seem to have an owner there, and we vaguely heard she might be from the village downriver. Like many dogs in the area, her ribs were showing, and she had a sore on one ear. Once I saw Yully give her some scraps, I regularly gave her my left overs and some granola and started calling her “Café.”
Unlike many other dogs there who are wary of frequent kicks and yells, Café approached me without fear and welcomed me rubbing her head. One time after finishing my lunch, I felt sad she wasn’t around, but as soon as I thought of her, she appeared at the top of the stairs. I entertained fantasies of adopting her, but on top of daunting logistics, I’m not sure she would have willingly given up her independent life in the forest village for a more constrained life in Iquitos or the US in a home occupied by several cats. We didn’t part company until our tumultuous trip downriver.
"While concepts like punctuality, mutual respect, no put downs of self or others, and listening when someone else is speaking may seem like obvious guidelines to form a positive community, a commitment to actually practice and hold each other accountable to observe these agreements is profound in a culture where showing up late, malicious gossip, and interrupting a speaker are painfully common."
"Artisan facilitators should of course share what they know, but beginning and experienced artisans all benefit by remaining humble, enthusiastic about learning, and committed to encourage and affirm their fellow artisans. So many artisans said that the thing they most wanted to bring back to their communities was this spirit of working in a mutually supportive environment."
"Both men and women wore garb made with bleached llanchama tree bark painted with graphic figures from Bora clans. Several wore headdresses made with the feathers from macaws and parrots. They discussed the importance of nature and craft-making in their culture and then launched into a lively dance where the men chanted and pounded sticks into the ground to the rhythm of moving around in a circle. Visitors joined the undulating lines to share the vibrant energy."