Past Rapids - Under Palms

I have spent the last two days in a haze... whirling in a mixture of pain, headaches and nausea. Although I heard yesterday’s Sunday service and the enthusiastic singing of the congregation. I felt a million miles away... in my own world. For a few scary moments as I swung in my hammock gripping hold of my head, I even considered the possibility that I had contracted malaria.... But thankfully I woke this morning to crystal clear skies and a clear head.

Our journey down river from Apetina lasted about four hours. We stopped briefly in a small Wayana village called Tutu Campu where we passed on messages from up river, The captain offered us a quick bowl of white lip pig and we loaded up on meat and fish to sell further down stream. In a fascinating but confusing mixture of American English, Saran and Gospel the captain announced "God is cooking, you are cooking, we are all cooking". Poignantly it marked the last stop for us in Wayana country on the Tapanahoni (we will meet them again in Kwamahaken on the Lawa). From here we leave behind us the remote forest hamlets and solitary waterways that over the last weeks we've become so accustomed to, and enter into an area that is, by comparison much more populated.

Around 5 o'clock we crossed the Doumasingi, a rapid section marking the tribal boundaries of the N'dukas (Maroon) and the Wayanas (Amerindian) territory. A boundary, it is worth noting, that is not 'officially' recognised but one that the two communities seem to respect. On a small rock near the rapids there was a shrine similar to the ones we found on the Sarramacca river... the first sign of Maroon culture.

As much as I have enjoyed every second of our time with the Trio and Wayana Amerindians, arriving today in the Maroon village of Granbori reminded me of the warmth we all felt earlier in this trip when visiting the Sarramacca people of Semoisie. (have a look at the entries). Stepping from the boat we passed under the freshly cut string of palm leaves (the official gateway to the village) and made our way to meet with the Captain. Granbori is only a small village of around 200 people. Passing a woman on her way to the river, we all tried out a few remembered words of Sarramacan "Adeyo". Instantaneously she sprang to life, burst out laughing and called to a friend standing close by "Man Takki Ingi". She was so bubbly....It is wonderful to be back in Maroon country again.

After meeting with the captain we walked to the riverside to unload our boat only to find that a five feet long Bush Master snake (Nasty!) was blocking our way... It is easy, after so long in the forest, to forget that danger, serious drop-dead-danger, is only just around the corner...or across the path, as the case may be! (a local promptly battered it to death with a stick...)

After setting up our hammocks (in a hut used by the Granman on his visits here) we took a quick stroll around the village... little children following in our footsteps. Max broke out the camera, turning the screen around so they could see themselves... it was wonderful to see their reaction... laughing and giggling at their own image (have a look at the video).

As I sat here writing this entry Max has been talking to the Captain about life in the village. Apparently there used to be a number of old Medicine Men, (or 'Busi Men' as they are known locally). Traditionally these men took care of the medical needs of the community. Some years ago a clinic was built, replacing the Busi Mens traditional knowledge with modern medicines...

Investing their faith in these 'new cures' the community chose to neglect the old ways. In time the elders passed away taking with them their knowledge of the forest. Whilst the modern medicines where available there was not a problem, however in 1998 the funding for the clinic ran out followed shortly by the supplies. Two years later, as a direct result of this loss of traditional knowledge, the community here at Granbori are facing something of a medical emergency. They have been left without any means or knowledge of how to treat even the simplest of ailments- this was proved within moments of our arrival when a women asked for something to treat a skin infection growing on her arm! A simple moment that graphically illustrates the importance of initiatives like the Shamans Apprentice programs and the work of A.C.T. (see link below)

Its 10.30 in the evening and as usual we are surrounded by a sea of inquisitive faces looking at our every move as we put together today’s feed...

My hammock is waiting.....


"The Last of the Wayana"... For Now...

Traditional Framework

Fond Farewell

Crossing the Boundary

Gateway to a New World

LINKS - Runningman in Semoisie
(Requires Internet Connection)