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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Day 5 – Painting day 2!

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

We have arrived at painting location number 2! It took far less time to get here today than it did yesterday as the organising was previously completed. By 9am painting was underway.

Today our painting location is very special and is a very sacred place to the tribe. It is here that the Yawanawá people are able to begin their shamanic path and this area is very much used as a meditation spot. As we set us to paint, the leaves were swept away to present clear ground for us to work on. They clean the spot regularly as it means so much to them. We also were informed that a very spiritual plant grows here. In the words of Nixiwaka, “You take this plant only once in your lifetime, and it can change the path you walk”. When the plant, which we believe is a root plant, is ingested, it takes you on a spiritual journey which can determine your future.

Today we have noticed some more traditional Yawanawá culture appearing. The artists are wearing annatto paint on their faces,big feather headdresses on their heads, and beautiful beaded bracelets. It’s very important to them that their tribal traditions come across to everyone as well as their developed lives to show that they haven’t forgotten their origins.

We are waiting on the arrival of the young Shaman Razu (who John keeps calling Russel) who they all highly respect, even though he is a very young shaman. He speaks perfect Yawanawá and is one of the last routes back into the traditional Yawanawá culture for the people here. Only when he arrives will the traditional ceremonies, music, dress and culture really wake up. It will be very interesting to see this when finally Razu arrives (4days late)! I have been told that he begins each ceremony with a flute (which might be a recorder) and I will be given the opportunity to perform Jake Thorpe’s composition Yuxi Yuve which has been specially written for the Yawanawá people and this trip. Nixiwaka is very excited and says that when they are under the influence of Ayahuaca (a plant which takes them of a spritiyal journey) they will really feel the music and my spirit within it along with feeling connected to the water spirit Yuxi Yuve.

Here are some facts for you: 1. The Amazon rainforest is the largest and most species-rich tract of land in the world. 2. It is home to 10% of all known species of plants and animals 3. There are estimated over 500,000 plants, 2.5 million insects and nearly 5000 animals! 4. There are species which are hazardous to humans, including: venomous fer-de-Lance and bushmaster snakes, the giant anaconda, the predatory jaguar, the crocodilian caiman, the electric eel, and a host of insects and bacteria that can cause many tropical diseases. 5. The Amazon is an intensely competitive ecosystem as remains one of the hardest places to survive on earth. 6. The Yawanawá people traditionally built their houses out of huge palm trees, with the leaves weaved to make the roof, and the trunk cut to make the floor. 7. They use plants from the forest as medicines and antidotes for any illnesses or animal bites. 8. Some parts of the rainforest are very sacred to them and only after special permission is granted from the shaman are they allowed to go there.

Although the painting did go smoothly yesterday, there is definitely some confusion in the air. John painted a ceremony where the shaman heals a sick person and blesses them. He included the pot in which the medicine is made, and the boa constrictor to show strength. Nixiwaka painted the pot and the snakes but wasn’t aware John was painting the healing shaman so the painting became our of sink. John is now painting the painting Nixi based on the one painted yesterday and hopefully they will fall back into sync after today.

Again in the rainforest today there is nature all around us and we can hear parrots flying above us and even a ‘japo’ bird (possibly Mina bird) – which can imitate all sounds in the rainforest. It’s slightly overcast so the temperature isn’t as warm as it has been, but we are wishing for the sun to shine as we are in need of charging our equipment and the sun is needed to help John’s painting to dry. Yesterday’s painting is still wet!

When we are in the rainforest the people here drink Casava juice. This is a very weird and highly traditional drink for them. It is made from the Casava route – like the one we had for breakfast the other day. The women elders in the tribe then chew up the vegetable and spit it into a pot. This is then boiled and fermented to create the white think drink they drink today. We will definitely be avoided it!

Small changes to make a big difference:

2. Don’t buy single use plastic bottles of water. Instead invest in a refillable stainless steel bottle for school/work. 3. Wherever possible try and buy local produce eg apples from England (if you’re from england) NOT from South Africa. This will drastically reduce the air miles on your food.


Fact: Trees are massive carbon-sinks

A) Can you find out what carbon-sink means? B) Based on this why do you think trees are so important? C) Can you plant a tree at your school or at home?

The Last Chance to Paint team’s latest video will be live at 9am today!

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