We arrive at the Awajun village of Tutumberos, at K. 613 of our trip. This part of the Amazonian rain forest and Rio Marañon is the land of the Awajun tribe, of which Zacarias is a member. He is also an official of his village, Montenegro, which is located downstream. The Awajun are very concerned about the building of megadams on the river. Zacarias is our interface with the Awajun communities, who are suspicious of outsiders and their motives.
Our next stop was the village of Montenegro, where Zacarias’ folks lived. Zacarias was very anxious that I visit his father, probably because I was the elder on the river trip. His father and I were of the same age – 75 years. He had also mentioned to me a number of times before that he intended to present me with a ceremonial “lance”. I was never able to ascertain what I represented to Zacarias – a possible political representative of my “people” in the US, an esteemed friend, a rich person that might give him money or something else? It was also the case that Zacarias was carrying a bullet in his body. He had been in a demonstration, and was shot by the police. He had let us know that he was hoping to raise money for an operation to remove the bullet.
About the caption to the above photo: debate still rages amongst anthropologists and other social scientists over Rousseau’s notion of the “Noble Savage”. It is a notion that will not go away, despite efforts to show that modern life is less bloody than pre-civilized life. It seems that many social scientists find it necessary to defend modern life. Perhaps they fear being called, themselves, “romantics” and undisciplined as academics? But I, also trained as an academic, come down with Rousseau. Let me state my view as candidly as possible: We have fucked up our only home. The invention of “civilization”, 10,000 short years ago, led directly to the mess we are in now. The products of agriculture were the first wealth, which wealth got immediately concentrated in the hands of the most greedy and ruthless individuals in society. Class society – autocratic rulers and impoverished masses – became the norm. This has remained the case from the beginning (except perhaps for the recent and short-lived phenomenon of a “middle class”) to the present day. The pursuit of wealth remains the dominant force in the world, despite clear evidence that the party may soon be over. In this country, over half of our elected representatives deny the findings of science as they concern climate change, because those findings indicate the need to retool the economy and perhaps curtail the profit motive. Unbelievable as it may seem, the Republican Party, practically to the man, sticks it’s collective head in the sand while the earth undeniably heats up. Pre-civilized life, no matter what you may say against it, was infinitely more noble than what has replaced it. No wonder that I was struck so forcibly by the scene (above photo) before me.
Then we continued downstream, to our last campsite on the river.
It started, again, to rain (it’s the rainforest, after all) and we put up the tarp. We were then joined by kids (and a few adults) from both sides of the river, who are masters at the art of inner tube rafting. Zacarias was the master of ceremonies, giving out treats from our supply of left-over food.
Tomorrow (Day 29) we would leave the river, drive back upstream (and into the Cumba Valley once more), where we would spend the night in Bagua Chica: