The rivers to either side of the Kampankis range have been inhabited for centuries by indigenous groups in the Jivaro linguistic family, mostly Wampis and Awajun. Today they live in dozens of small communities along the Santiago and Morona rivers – small meaning with typically fewer than 200 residents. Many basic goods are brought in from other areas of Peru – batteries, sugar, clothes – but the rest of Peru is a long ways off and accessible only by river and what satisfies a large portion of their daily needs is the forest. To cite just one of a hundred examples, the leaves of one of the palms that is common on the high ridge at camp two make especially resistant thatch roofs, which can reportedly keep out the rain for up to 20 years.
|Botanist Camilo Kakejai pressing a Mabea at camp three|
Foto: A. del Campo
“There’s just one word,” he replied.
“But what if it’s a white rock that’s really hard?”
“Well, then we’d call it _____.”
“Two! And what if it’s a river stone that you can break in half?”
“Those we call _____.”
“Three! And what if it’s the kind you use to sharpen your machete?”
“That’s a _____.”
“Four! And what if it’s one of those rocks you can use to make sparks to light a fire?”
“Oh yeah – we call those _____.”
“Five! And…” etc.
“Ah,” I said. “You’ve got to do more than just smell it.”
“That’s right,” said Gustavo, giving me his kind look, tapping his forehead. “You’ve got to get it all the way up here – next to your brain….”
A few minutes later he said he felt better.