Family explores the wonders of the Amazonas rain forest

Jueves, 01 Enero de 1970 a las 03:33:22

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March 18, 2002

MANAUS, Brazil – From our hotel, it was just a 20-minute ride by motorized longboat to the thatched huts of the Tarino Indian village deep in the Amazonas rain forest, but it seemed as if we had been transported back in time to another millennium. Listen to the tribal chief, through an interpreter, explaining some Tarino customs:

"We paint our faces and bodies so the spirits of the rain forest can recognize us, and therefore protect us," he says. "This is especially important when we are hunting in the rain forest. But on Thursdays, we don't go into the rain forest, because that is when the spirits are moving around. It is their day.

"We also paint our faces and bodies to honor and thank the rain forest spirits during our nighttime celebrations. We dance, sing and play music. The spirits are an important part of our lives. We have great respect for them."

My 10-year-old son, Marco, my wife, Susan, and I are learning about the customs of the Tarino through our guide, naturalist and translator, Luiz Magalhaes. Luiz is the chief guide at our base camp, the Ariau Amazon Jungle Towers and Hotel, which is on the Rio Negro River about two hours by boat from the city of Manaus in the state of Amazonas.

At the Tarino village, we feel like we are literarily in the middle of nowhere. We had left New York only yesterday for this unique family vacation.

Luiz, after explaining that he, too, firmly believes in the spirits, continues his translation:

"If we do have to go into the rain forest on Thursday, we make an offering under a samauma tree (the strongest tree in the rain forest) to the spirits that includes bananas, coconuts, honey and pineapple juice. Our offerings show that we respect the spirits and that we are asking for their protection."

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