|Past Rapids - Under
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
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
My hammock is waiting.....
"The Last of the Wayana"...
Crossing the Boundary
Gateway to a New World