Updated: Feb 18
Today has been our last day in Mutum village and we’ve had such an amazing time.
Due to the humid climate, John’s paintings have been taking a couple of days to dry, and as we are planning to leave first thing tomorrow morning, we decided that the sensible thing would be for him not to paint on our last day. Instead we organised to spend the morning with Mutum school.
As previously planned, we had brought paper for the children to work on and some brushes for them to use. Instead of providing them with paint boxes which potentially they wouldn’t have access to again, we chose to use Annato seed pods.
When we entered the school room, John, aided by Nixi- introduced us, the project, and explained to the children the painting activity they were to do.
We then cracked open the seed pods, and the seeds slightly crushed, mixed with a little bit of water, made the perfect red paint for the children to use. They were encouraged to paint the “spirit of the rainforest” which is of course the name of this chapter of Last Chance to Paint.
Once the children were underway and feeling confident with their painting skills, I got out my flute to perform for them. As soon as I started playing, the atmosphere in the classroom changed. Nixiwaka said he felt all his negative energy go, and that he felt instantly relaxed and he could breath.
It was amazing playing for the children, as they had clearly never heard or seen a modern flute like mine being played to such a high level.
It was incredibly moving for me being able to perform ‘Yuxi Yuve’, written by Jake Thorpe, to the children. The music being specially written for the Yawanawá, about their very special water spirit, made it so powerful both for them and for me. We recorded the moment and I hope that in the future I will be able to perform it in my own concert, and play the video of the Yawanawá before hand, showing that this amazing piece of music was written for them. I also hope that the Yawanawá remember the moment I played this special piece for them – it should be treasured.
I have to say that playing flute in the tropics is no mean feat. The humidity and the heat, especially in the school house, was almost unbearably hot! There were flies crawling all over my face and I’ve never been so sweaty whilst playing! However, I carried on and played a full 30mins set as it was a performance and the show must go on! This experience today has definitely tested my resilience and taught me that conditions like these require a lot more concentration whilst playing compared to playing in a comfortable temperature.
After the children had finished their paintings, we interviewed each one about it which hopefully made them feel special. We also asked some questions such as “why is the rainforest so important to you, the Yawanawá?”, and we will be releasing these on a special video when we return to the UK. Their words are so strong and we like to describe it as the Yawanawá’s message to the world.
As the temperature is so hot today, we will spend this afternoon packing our stuff up as best we can before our departure tomorrow. We will try and get some final bits of video and simply enjoy our last afternoon here in the Amazon. Tomorrow we embark on our long boat ride, before our hours of flights begin.
It’s been great receiving your questions over this trip and here are a few more answered for you:
When Yawanawá children grow up, do any ever leave the tribe and live in other parts of the world?
Yes. Living in the tribe is always a choice for the adults. Many Yawanawá are now settled in a town called Tarauaca where there seems to be a whole community of them. Nixiwaka spent 5 years in the UK learning English and perhaps other Yawanawá will embark on journeys like this in the future.
What jobs do the tribe members have?
Within the tribe it isn’t so much a job situation, but roles that each person plays. Some of the men are hunters, some are boat drivers, some are builders and some are more sophisticated roles like chief or shaman. The woman tend to be more house based. They take care of the children, cook the food, wash the clothes and dishes and clean the houses. There isn’t much money in the tribe, so employment isn’t huge here. The Yawanawá who want proper employment tend to live in towns like Tarauaca to get a steady income.
What do they sleep on?
They mainly sleep in hammocks! We’ve seen a couple of mattresses around the village but the majority definitely prefer to sleep in hammocks, like we have since we’ve been here!
How do they get Wi-fi?
In the past they have tried to have WiFi, using massive satellite dishes and solar panels, however this all failed for them quite quickly so they live without Wi-fi or phone signal. They have no connection to the outside world.
It’s been such an amazing trip for us, although we also can’t wait to return to home comforts after our long journey soon!