I woke up early in Amazonas and went for a walk to enjoy some quiet time before the workshop participants brought their lively energy to Paquita’s house for breakfast. I strolled out to the bank overlooking the Marañon River, and the shapes that caught my eye were large dangling banana flowers. For the next twenty minutes, I wandered from plant to plant in this small grove to appreciate how the color and size of the leaves, fruits, and trees changed over time.
Most Americans are only familiar with the heads of banana fruits they find in a grocery store. I was fascinated to see tiny inch long fruits neatly packed in a giant spear-like red flower head. Above them were bunches of more developed and familiar green fruits.
This grove included several types of plantains which all need to be cooked to eat. One of them is called “sapucho” which is primarily grown to feed to pigs, but it has the advantage of being more resistant to flooding than other varieties preferred for human consumption.
I appreciated seeing varied shades of fresh green leaves spotted with droplets of morning dew contrasted against the rusty mottled brown of leaves that were well past their prime. Intersecting ragged leaf edges formed triangular views of the ground below. Bees were collecting pollen from mature flowers, and ants were collecting sap oozing from tiny wounds.
If my friend Alfred Quarto were there, he might have composed a poem about the scene, but I was content to use my cell phone camera to record my naturalist stroll among the bananas with the hope my revery would not be broken by stepping on a snake hiding under the fallen leaves. Someone had recently found a shushupe (tropical rattle snake) hanging out near one of the village houses.
"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."