Introducing Wayka! The last few days have been the best among the trip. It started off kind of rocky, quite literally, as we travelled down river for a few hours in canoes until finally reaching the home of the Woarani Community. Upon arriving, we were blessed with fruit smeared on our faces. We also met their pet monkey and trumpeter. Communication with the community was difficult, but made very much easier by the president who went to University and was able to fluently speak Spanish. The community’s native language is Woa, but even the kids knew a decent amount of Spanish and were actually able to teach us some. We spent lots of time with the children, and they especially loved peekaboo! The men of the tribe then taught us how to use their blow gun, which they use to hunt monkeys and toucans. We were each allowed to try it, (without the poison in the arrows) to shoot a banana hanging from a nearby tree. Later in the night is when I earned my new name, Wayka, which is a type of tree in their native language.
We began the next day on a hike through the Amazon lead by the community to a local waterfall. It was an intense hike for us, but the men of the tribe travel much further and for much longer to find hunt. They said it is typically around a 5-6 hour long journey until they are successful. The hike was astonishingly beautiful, but it exhausted us by the end. We then went to a nearby area that the community had cleared and helped them plant baby cacao trees. They also gave us some sugarcane they cut and had cracked a cacao pod open for us to try the fruit. It was very sour, and honestly, had a texture I really did not enjoy. Planting the trees was special to me because we left our imprint on the community, and the children will grow up with the trees and the memories of planting them with us.
The end of the night was by far my favorite moment from the trip so far, and probably the most memorable moment of the trip for the rest of my life. The community dressed up and performed a celebration dance for us as a thank you for our visit and our interest in their culture. The women and men had separate dances to begin, but ultimately combined. And eventually, we were allowed to join in with them. It was incredible, chanting and holding hands and arms with the them was a sense of unity that I haven’t felt in a very long time.