Like many men from his village of San Francisco on the Marañon River, Pablo grew up hunting. He enjoyed going into the forest and bringing back a paca or peccary for food and selling game meat to support his family. In his late 20’s, though, he had to go farther and farther to find game animals and often came back with nothing.
Pablo's mother-in-law Elisa was weaving placemats with chambira palm fiber and sold them to tourists at the Sapi Sapi market in Nauta. He watched her intently and then helped her make them. Soon, he began weaving caiman figures. Elisa easily sold these at the market too.
Pablo didn’t like the way the feet of his fiber-only caiman flopped out so he started using wire to create a natural bend in their knees.
A year later, artisans from San Francisco convinced the Delfin company to bring tourists to their village to shop for crafts en route to Pacaya Samiria park. The deal was well timed since the artisans from Nauta started charging artisans from other communities a fee to sell their crafts in the Sapi Sapi market.
Pablo had steadily improved his caimans, but he saw other artisans were selling more birds and butterflies. The people who made the best ones, though, did not want to teach others because they felt that doing so would reduce their sales. So, Pablo again developed his own techniques to make these critters.
Craft sales in the community kept improving after the non-profit Minga Peru arranged for boats from the high-end Lindblad Explorer to also visit them.
Pablo appreciates that when Amazon Eology started working with the artisans in his community, he started to improve the quality of his crafts even more. Looking at birds photos from multiple angles helped him replicate the colors and shapes of specific birds and feedback from our staff helped him improve small details. He has enjoyed becoming an artisan facilitator since he has always been open to sharing what he has learned with others.
We are now heading up to the Ampiyacu to do more workshops. It's a great pleasure to travel with Pablo who is so talented as well as humble, patient and positive.
"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."