Sloths and New Artisan Friends in Puerto Miguel

November 23, 2023

Sloths and New Artisan Friends in Puerto Miguel

Yully, Raquel and I made the trip from Nauta to Puerto Miguel on the Yarapa River in two hours instead of three when the wooden lancha is full with 30 passengers.

Puerto Miguel was founded 90 years ago by 5 familes including one man named Miguel. It now has 80 families who mostly live in neat houses on both sides of a new sidewalk. One had an exhibition of colorful jungle scene paintings created after lessons from a neighboring artist.

 Jungle scene painting at Puerto Miguel

When entering Raquel's house, I saw a pair of young three toed sloths munching on some cetico leaves. Raquel had rescued these and other local wildlife for many years. Their diet dictates a slow pace, but I felt my yoga teacher would also appreciate their graceful economy of motion.

 Sloth feeding on cetico leaves at Puerto Miguel

After lunch, Yully and I met with the village artisans. Their regular house needed renovations so we met in a covered open building where the artisans had laid out their crafts on three rows of tables. I introduced myself to each woman and was happy to share some fun banter with many.

 Artisan at Puerto Miguel with chambira butterfly napkin holders

While there are 7 eco-tourism lodges in the area, only one regularly brings its clients to the village to shop for crafts. The other lodges pay a fee to the community for every client that passes through on a forest walk, but this doesn't help the artisans directly.

 Artisan from Puerto Miguel with chambira butterfly

I shared a presentation about our work, and while they didn't have any crafts we could resell, they were very interested to learn how to make bird ornaments that we could buy in quantity.

 Yully and artisans at Puerto Miguel

We next walked through the school and passed by soccer and volleyball games, an abandoned building that was supposed to be an internet project, a house where French volunteers offer English lessons, and a lodge for backpackers. Economic times are very tough now because there are few tourists and prices for basic commodities have steadily risen.

 House for French volunteers teaching English at Puerto Miguel

We had a simple dinner and went to bed knowing we would need to get up at 3:30 am. I had a hard time falling asleep because I kept hearing an animal chewing on something several feet from my hammock. It turns out it was a fox not a rat that was foraging. Bad luck for it when went into Raquel's room and didn't come out.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in News

Puca Urquillo artisans cooperate to build a bird's nest to withstand an impending flood
Strengthening artisan organizations in Puca Urquillo

November 26, 2023

"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."

Continue Reading

Artisan group with green darner dragonflies made at artisan facilitator training
Artisan Facilitator Training with Bluebirds and Dragonflies

November 26, 2023

"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."

Continue Reading

A Traditional Bora Dance and Craft Display
A Traditional Bora Dance and Craft Display

November 25, 2023

"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."

Continue Reading