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ARTICLES OF INTEREST - ECUADOR
Waiting for the rain
When the flow of the river diminishes it becomes difficult the sailing of the canoes, the natives of the Ecuadorian East look at the sky and wait for the rain; then, everything seems to rotate around the clouds: the walks on muddy trails, the voyages through the numb torrents, the conversations in front of a bonfire in which stories of the mount are narrated. Stories of the forest that perspires life.
Eyes nailed in a sky of darkened clouds and melancholic stars missing the moon. Will it rain?, a sceptical voice arising from a hammock asks. There are not words, only sarcastic or pessimistic smiles, perhaps resigned. Men remain silent, the forest responds with its bustling silence.
A bonfire is lighted up to combat the shades of an eternal night, as if it wanted to perpetuate its Kingdom of darkness. Radiance, sparkling ashes, igneous dancing forms that vaguely illuminate several cinnamon color faces. Now there are words. It is spoken of a numb river that clamors for the rain and of canoes reduced by the treacherous edge of the stones.
Stories drown in sips of liquor. Somebody lifts a half full glass. He proposes a toast: "arriba, abajo, al centro y adentro (up, down, to the center and up to the bottom", later he laughs or he yawns; he leaves; "maybe it rains tomorrow", he says when taking the first steps on the path flanked by candles that finishes in a discreet cabin with bamboo walls, roof of "straw" and floors of "palo de hierro" (a palm of the forest).
"Maybe", they all repeat without any enthusiasm looking to the sky again as if they were requesting him an explanation. The bonfire dies among floating ashes. The night becomes denser. Men of the forest sleep cooed by the infinite voices of the sleepless beings of the mount... and where would the moon have gone? the stars of melancholic blinking seem to wonder.
Hours pass. It blunts the day with a transparent sky, without any flash of stormy clouds. There are not more questions, but there is a warning though: "you cannot walk the trail. You are missing something important", El Oso (the Bear)assures, a native quichua and guide of the Yacuma camp (lodge), located in the county of the Napo, Oriental region of Ecuador.
Expert and respectful of the rituals, mysteries and secrets of the mount, El Oso gets ready to officiate a sort of a baptism ceremony that will liberate the walker of the dangers of the muddy trails that serpetean among robust trees. "Only this way we will be able to walk calm", he repeats one and a thousand times.
In the Ecuadorian
East there are two groups of the quichua ethnos: the "Canelos"
and the "Quijos". Their territories are located between
the Coca and the Napo (the biggest in the country) rivers. The
men take charge of the works in the field, while the women are
devoted to the domestic works and the elaboration of fine pottery
pieces that are known for their chromatic variety.
El Oso persists and doesn't understand reasons. He is decided to officiate the baptism; then, he catches an "achiote" (fruit of a tree originating of America) and breaks it in two. Its interior is of a brilliant red ... then he submerges a pointed chip that gets spotted. The guide show it and then brings it close to his face. He draw several lines over his body and makes the same thing with all those that are about to leave.
"Jebe" boots. Bottles of water. The trail is tortuous, the heat is incessant, humid and sticky. Sunbeams going through the trees. One can feel the smell of wild, ferocious and exciting life... "Anything could happen in the road", El Oso philosophizes and narrates encounters with invisible poisonous snakes and hungry taparis (the biggest mammal in the region) and the discovery of the terrible prints of the jaguar, the sovereign feline of these lands.
Trees of medicinal properties, flowers of blinding colors, leaves holed by the voracious hunger of the ants. Termites, mosquitos, butterflies, scarabs, insects and more insects.... "don't lean on there, .. don't touch that", the native guide orders and it is necessary to be careful and to follow his indications. One never knows, sometimes, what seems more inoffensive can be the most dangerous thing.
Back to the camp the same question is made: will it rain?. Nobody answers, not even Bartolo, a weatherbeaten man of the mount that understands the language of the clouds and of the sky.
Joker, smiling and a little foxy, the old Bartolo, rests of his risky voyage through the Napo. "There is little water. You cannot use the motor. We have had to row and to push the canoe in some tracts", he says without being alarmed too much. He, Master of his Kingdom of Nature, knows that life in the forest is this way. That you just have to wait for the rain and to be happy with their first drops.
Then, it will
be necessary to look at the sky again and request that the cloudbursts
cease as soon as possible, because everything is flooded, the
banks of the river, the bamboo cabins, the banana and cocoa fields...
"This is life and it will always be this way. What can we
do?", Bartolo sentences. A robust drop slips for its wrinkled
face. Finally rain arrived.
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