Amazon Expedition – Day 13

Blog written by Lani van Niekerk

It is official. The halfway point in our expedition has marked our slow transition into true explorers. Us Young Explorers have learnt to handle the sails of PANGAEA, we handle machetes instead of blunt butter knives and we navigate instead of wandering aimlessly.

Today we were fortunate enough to learn more about the native Indian tribes of the Amazon. Our newfound friend, Christina, showed us beautiful pictures of Yanomami tribe. Santa Isabel is home to many of these indigenous people. Christina has worked closely with them for over 20 years – thus she could share some interesting facts about them. The children are taught to hunt from the moment they are able to hold a bow and arrows! Many of these tribes have barely had contact with modern civilization. This made me realize how nature plays an integral part in their existence. I could not help but reflect on our modern (and often extremely materialistic) ways of life.

A bunch of the Young Explorers got creative in the kitchen and made some lunch from goodies that were purchased locally in Santa Isabel. This gave us the energy we needed to embark on a journey upriver to visit a tribe. The boat trip was long, but incredibly beautiful as we cruised along pristine parts of the rainforest. Mike mentioned that there is much less wildlife in the area compared to what he saw about 20 years ago. It is a pity that humans do not respect nature as they once did.

Meeting the tribe was quite an experience. They were a lot more shy than the other communities that we reached out to. At first, there was a bit of awkwardness between the tribe and the Young Explorers, but that was soon left behind when we started to play a bit of football. We were pleasantly surprised by the skills of the little kids! We had the chance to give them a water filter system that was sponsored by our wonderful friends at Katadyn. I believe that this will help to better the general health of the people who live there.
We enjoyed another scenic cruise back to PANGAEA on a local pirogue. Mike decided to bid Santa Isabel goodbye with a flourish of our vessel’s sails! We grinded the main sail into place as we headed downstream. This is the first time that a sailboat of this size has traveled this far upriver. The locals were really interested to see such a majestic boat!

Sailing downstream gave us time to appreciate the beauty of our surrounds. Dark clouds were looming on the horizon. Flickers of lightning lit up the sky as we began our journey to Belem. The wind started whipping through our hair, warning us that a rainstorm is approaching. Within minutes the heavens opened and we were soaked in our attempt to clear away our dinner plates! The Amazon has really proven the power of nature and the elements! It was so humbling to stand under an endless, flashing sky as we sailed into the darkness of the Rio Negro.

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