Part 1 of 4
Story and photos by E.J Brunton
I had heard a lot about Moi (pronounced MOY) before I ever met him. Finally the day came when I found myself face to face with this young legend. We had just alighted from the 4 passenger bush plane and there he was, standing on the grassy air strip.
Below I am standing with the pilot before take off from Shell Mera airstrip.
Some of the Huaorani, Moi’s tribe, were unloading supplies from the belly of the plane. Then they pushed it back from the precipice we had narrowly missed, turning it around for its return flight.
The tiny craft would glide once more over the serpentine brown rivers that writhed through the sea of greenery. Sudden winds would buffet it and torrential downpours batter its silver skin on its 45 minute flight back to Shell Mera from this outpost deep in the interior, near the north east border of Peru.
We would spend several days here in the rainforest of the Amazon basin on the Shiripuno River in this settlement called Qu’Hueri Ono. This day was sunny and humid; the vegetation lush. Vines, dripping with bright flowers, crawled everywhere.
Moi led us up the dirt path past the latrines and the yucca patch to the communal palm frond hut in the center of the village. A small group was inside enjoying a lazy afternoon chat or making implements for their homes.
One woman prepared a welcoming drink of chicha (mildly alcoholic beverage) for us. She stirred the contents of a large clay pot with her hand and then pulled out some white fibers which she squeezed and threw to one side. They were hungrily devoured by the dogs. A lumpy white concoction filled the bowl that was passed to me.
I knew how this was prepared. The women boiled up manioc root (yucca) and then chewed it and spit it into a clay pot. They added water from the river and then let this ferment for several days. It resulted in a cloudy, mildly alcoholic beverage. I also knew that if we refused it would be a grave insult. It went against the grain of every thing that I knew but I swallowed it down and passed the pot to my friends.
This drink, along with boiled manioc, plantain, grubs and whatever meat in the form of monkey, deer, peccary or fish they procured formed their staple diet.
For an updated view of where we stayed check out this slideshow circa 2010. We never had it so good but I am glad to see them prosper. I liked it the way it was! Here is the link belowtripwow.tripadvisor.com
Continued in part 2 of 4