She answered that women there don’t wear makeup; they use natural resources to maintain their beauty. They only wear makeup during ceremonial events that take place within their tribes. I asked her to elaborate more on these celebrations.
She is from Playas De Cuyabeno: a Quechua community that settled inside the Cuyabeno Reserve. Her main language is Runa Simi, which means the language of the people. By day, they manufacture handicrafts that include spears, baskets and ushankas for tourists and for their own personal use. By night, they rely on the bright night skies for light and use very limited electricity.
I fell in love with the night skies. On my third night there, as I watched the sunset at Laguna Grande, it dawned on me that this was one of the most important moments of my life. It was a sensation of beauty deriving from my mind to the horizon of the endless rainforest. In my personal search, I’ve watched the sunsets from many different places in the world, but this one was different. This one was pure beauty. It was as if the world had ended and all that existed was this body of water, the speedboat, and us: the 8 tourists. As we sat there in a moment of silence, gazing at the night sky, the memory of my first interaction with a shaman floated into my thoughts.
Earlier in the week, I traveled by boat for an hour and a half down the river to an indigenous Siona community. I interacted with them and learned about their traditions and customs. We visited a shaman that shared with us his secrets and ancestral knowledge of shamanism. I remembered seeing bracelets for sale in the village. “Is that your work?” She said, “It’s the work of many women who live in the tribe”.
Stay tuned next week for Part 3