Part 3 of 4
story and photos by E.J. Brunton
We laid out our sleeping bags and stripped for a dip in the river. Moi warned us to make lots of noise and splash to scare away the piranha and cayman. That went against everything that I had ever heard but, “When in Rome” I thought. The water was warm but still refreshing and no sign of piranha.
We weren’t supposed to partake of their food. Already there was a dilemma. Well, we reasoned, we could share some of our food with them. It was just too tempting to taste what to us were delicacies, perhaps never to be savored again.
During that week we were treated to monkey, capybara (the world’s largest rodent) and turtle eggs as the Huaorani smacked their lips over our tinned sardines and ham, cereal with cartons of milk, cookies and granola bars.
Moi is a radical. An activist who was well known to the oil companies for his vigorous campaigns against them. He wore a tee shirt that said “Get the $hell out of Ecuador” and sported the familiar scallop shell emblem of Shell oil. Through his contact with Joe Kane and the auspices of the Sierra Club he had even managed to go to Washington D.C. in 1993.
"A thousand years?”
“No. Eighty perhaps.”
He was silent then, and after a while he asked, “What will you do in ten more years? In ten years, your world will be pure metal. Did your god do this?”
When Moi took a shower in the hotel bathroom Joe says, “I heard the water go on and off several times. Finally he emerged wearing only his shorts, his skin red as a boiled lobster.
“Tomorrow I would like a new hotel room,” Moi said.
He dressed himself completely and had me tie his tie. Then, fully clothed he got into bed. Like many Huaorani he drew no hard distinction between day and night."
Next day we went for a 5 hour hike up hill under the steamy canopy. Moi walked barefoot, encumbered only by his gleaming machete. We guinea pigs were laden down with all the trappings of civilization that we couldn’t be separated from: rubber boots, back packs filled with water bottles, toilet paper, cellophane- wrapped snacks, movie and still cameras.
I looked and felt ridiculous. I also looked apoplectic. My face purple, my shirt soaked, I stumbled over roots, vines slapped me in the face, my rubber boots, sucked off in mud holes, deserted me.
Back home at the hut one of the women was making a basket out of palm leaves. It was done in a flash and was handy for carrying any fruits or grubs you might find as you traveled. My friends looked on from their double wide hammocks.