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…back to Rio Branco – still in Acre January 14, 2006

Posted by ditta in Uncategorized.

The days pass by in an incredible way.. as everything goes here in a smooth relaxed way after a while one does not notice the time passing and everything glues into one big path.. but yes, managed to relax, to ´let go´and to look inside of myself rather than constantly running from one place to another (although I did that as well)..

..the Fortaleza Forró the other night was nice; preceeded by an amazing piece of Amazon theatre with environmental messages of forest preservation, which took place at night in the middle of the forest!!! a group of artists playing their own music, in the light of the fire sticks (no idea how you call these in English) presented an amazing story of amazon culture and tradition of a amazon dolphin, water snake – anaconda and other stories. Unfortunately came late, so could not enjoy the whole thing, but the trip to the place without light through the forest with my local friend Cleyton was advanterous enough 😉

this was followed by the famous forro, which took place in the church of santo daime. people dancing with ayahuasca in their bodies on the tunes of life accordeon, guitar and drums were full of energy and passion. was very nice. the process of gender division was maintained by men being on the one side of the room and women sitting on the other side.. once the music started men (yes only a few women dared to go and ask a man for a dance) went to the other side to ask a particular girl for a dance.. it reminded me a little my teenager time and social dancing class in slovakia 😉 we danced until the sunrise!

..the following day we relaxed in Fortaleza, and I even managed to return to ´Bolivia´ by persuading Clayton, who knew the area well, to take me on a canoe around the river.. was great!! then we had a barbecue and by the end of the afternoon we packed our tent and prepared for the trip back to Rio Branco, where we arrived at night, just with enough energy to go for dinner (Dudu, Lou and I) and collapse and Dande´s house (Dudu´s great friend who works for WWF http://www.wwf.org.br/ and has a wonderful collection of brazilian music and amazon histories, and who was so kind to allow me to use his office to write these lines).. 

the following day, Monday 9/1, Dudu accompanied Dande to a planning meeting of the Conselho National dos Seringueiros (http://www.cnsnet.org.br/), a 20 year old organisation of Seringueiros (people collecting natural rubber and other forest products such as the para or brazilian nuts in a sustainable way), which was planning their programme for 2006 in four priorities of training, fundraising, gender policy and community development. Was very interesting and we assisted their debates by offering our expertise (mainly Dudu) in methodological advice..

following this we went downtown to arrange plane tickets for the rest of our trips (I in the meatime decided to stay longer in Acre and travel directly from here to Recife for a youth policy conference organised by the World Bank called the Voices of Youth of Pernambuco), etc. and in the evening we relaxed in Dande´s house listening to music and discussing the politics of the Amazons and its social movement.

the next day was spent in Rio Branco, where I assisted Dudu with a project development of a Kashinawa Week of cultural heritage in Brasilia. The meeting took place in a Centre of Indigenous People of Acre, where I met for the first time the group of indians from the Hunikui tribe as they call themselves (Hunikui means ´povo verdadeiro´ – the real/truth people, the name Kashinawa was given to them by the ´brancos´ the white people – where Kashi means ´bat´ and nawa means ´sky´). This encouter was a discovery for me and will try to write more about them separately a little later..

after the meeting, Dudu and I rented a car to go to Xapuri, the lengend city (rather village) of Serigueiros and its hero, the environmentalist and seringueiro Chico Mendes  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico_Mendes).

We arrived already at night, as could not leave Rio Branco on time due to more logistical arrangements, and stayed at a marvellous poussada Villa Verde, which belonged to an Italian from Friuli (yes Fio people from your region live even in Acre) called Miguel, who developed an amazing area of recreation here!

In the morning we visited a local development project (which included a creche, educational centre and wooden furniture artesanate) that Dudu´s friend Ivana was superwising – we met her coincidently at breakfast of the Pousada; and then headed to Cachoeira Seringao, where Chico Mendes used to work.

After an hour ride on a mud road (thanks g-d it did not rain in the past few days!) we arrived to a tiny wooden settlement of seringueiros. Francisco, a cousin of Chico Mendes, guided us through the forest explained us the sustainable wood extraction system and talked to us about the way they live here and the damage caused by the farmers coming from the brazilian south – the forest eaters.. We even visited his brother´s house, another seringueiro, who developed his house in a pousada style accommodating researchers and lost tourists, who showed us some interesting maps of the region and offered us fresh juice 🙂

then we went for lunch in Fransico´s house, where his wife prepared for us a delicious local dish with rice, beef, feijao (beens), fried bananas, farofa (manioc flour), and salad. we had a great talk and then we finallt headed back to Rio Branco.

Arriving fairly late, we just had time to get a shower and have something to bite on, and we headed for what was supposed to be an amazing night of rituals with the Hunikui youth leaders in one their reserve next to Rio Branco. And it was!

I guess all of us dreamt of spending some time with the indians, being with them, experience how they live, dress and sing.. well, that night was all about that – seeing them in their dresses with feathers, forest jewerly, sniffing rape, telling us stories of their tragic past, offering us their indigenous tea (or as they call it – ´niship´h´ – which is basically ayahuasca I wrote about before) and singing for us all night long in their amazing wooden house with a view over a beautiful lake from the one side and a forest on the other. Was really something and I felt as a child who discovered the world of Maugli! In the middle of the night I sang for them a Slovak folk song ´cierne oci chodte spat´ which they appreciated greatly and talked to them about our small jewish community and its struggles for survival, which in the early 90s was similar to their struggle now, although we did not have a forest to fight for as well..

here are some pictures from another meeting with the Ninawa and Isaka from the Hunikuy tribe and Dande:

Ninawa-2.jpg Ninawa.jpg

me-and-hunikuy.jpg deep-conversations-ninawa-d.jpg 

rape-dande-e-isaka.jpg – Isaka applying ‘rape’

well, there are many more stories to tell, but it is time to go now and I am tired of writing..

promiss to post some more pictures on, once I am back in brasilia/recife, where I go tomorrow night, arrive in the morning to travel on sunday night to recife, but will see what I manage..

hope you are all well..

best from amazing acre.. Ditta






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