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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Day 4 – Painting in the rainforest

Today has been a very long day and we are finally underway with the painting.

What you guys don’t get to see, is how long we have to wait whilst the Yawanawá people discuss amongst themselves any arrangements. A good is example is this morning, where we woke up nice and early at 6am ready with our plan in mind to arrive at our first painting location straight after breakfast. However after much walking around the tribe, with clear Yawanawá politics being discussed, we in fact didn’t arrive to our painting location until midday!

John is now painting alongside Nixiwaka in the rainforest about 30mins away from the village. John especially is very excited to have started painting as it’s his dream to be painting here in the rainforest. 5 other Yawanawá artists are using pens and watercolours (provided by us) to experience the art with us all together. We are surrounded by butterflies, bugs and there are even a couple of dogs who followed us from the village running around our feet!

For breakfast today we had Cassava, a root vegetable similar to a potato.

In the couple of days we’ve been here we’ve learnt so much. We have also come to realise that the Yawanawá way of life is not nearly as sustainable as we had hoped for, and their lives are not too dissimilar to ours. They dress like we do in shorts, dresses and T-shirt’s which they get brought by villages. From 6-10 at night, when it’s dark, they have a diesel powered generator which provides light to all the houses. In the past the Yawanawá would have eaten before dark and gone to bed as soon as the sun set. They use litres of diesel everyday and require it being delivered via boat. We have also learnt that they run spiritual retreats where up to 30 people at a time from all around the world pay to stay with the Yawanawá taking a spiritual journey. Without this income the Yawanawá wouldn’t be able to afford the amount of fuel they are using at the moment. They are living an isolated but fairly standard Brazilian life as far as we can tell.

How do you (the Yawanawa people) mostly spend your days?

The children like children everyone attend the village school which starts early at around 7:30 they then return home for lunch and the school day finishes in the early afternoon. The men either go hunting (although this is rare) and they do the physical work around the village eg repairs. The women seem to mainly do the cleaning, the washing and the cooking. Although the Yawanawá now have the first female shaman in their history which is positive in terms of equality, they still seem to be very old fashioned in their lifestyle.

In our video yesterday you will have seen John and I being painted with Annato seeds – the red paint. This was to give us protection as we entered the rainforest – a Yawanawá tradition.

Right now, as I right this blog I am sat in deep rainforest. There is a small stream to my left, with two logs balanced over it acting as a bridge. In front of me are John and Nixiwaka working on their beautiful paintings. Behind me is endless greenery and leaves of varying shapes and sizes, and above me are small pieces of sky, poking through the canopy. All I can hear is the birds high up in the trees, what might be a frog in the river and singing in the distance which I presume is coming from the Ayahuaca ceremony in a Yawanawá hut we passed on the way here. It’s all amazing and I feel so connected to the rainforest!

In terms of Amazon animals, today has been eventful! Not only did John almost stand on a venomous snake this morning, but he also set up painting on a giant ants nest! Turns out that the ants in the rainforest can be up to 2.5cm long! We have been properly warned the the bite will last for 3 days and we have unflatteringly tucked our trousers into our socks which is extreme next to the Yawanawá’s bare feet!

Because we have discovered that the Yawanawá face the same environmental issues that we do, John and I decided to compile a list of “Small changes to make a big difference” to help reduce climate change. We will try and write one in each blog we release.

1. Buy loose fruit and veg. Buying these without plastic wrapping will help reduce plastic pollution.

CHALLENGE: We would like you to find out what happens to your recycling. We know that lots of recycling gets shipped across the world everyday and we would love to know what happens in your local area!

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Martha-Lilly x

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