The Ink Well Fiction Prompt #11 World Building/World in suspension

Dear friends who love literature.

I am responding to the invitation of @theinkwell of @jayna and @agmoore

[The Ink Well Fiction Prompt #11 - World Building

I leave you with my exercise, thanking you in advance for your kind reading.

(Foto propia)

We left the hamlet of La Paragua with the sun reaching its zenith. On arriving at the rustic port, all the impression of a three-day journey, over increasingly difficult roads, was left behind.

Before me opened the sinuous mirror of an immense river framed by intricate riverbanks that announced a journey into the depths of the Amazon jungle.

While my companions filled the curiara, a slender boat built from the hollowing out of a huge tree, with shipments of medicine and food for the tribe, I stared at the small welcoming committee. The man manoeuvring the outboard motor who stayed in place and another man who jumped ashore to receive the parcels and send back the news and requests of the community.

The transfer of the supplies from the rustic jeep to the curiara attracted the attention of all the inhabitants of the two-street hamlet. Such visits were not common in a community that lived almost exclusively from the extraction and trade of gold. We went on official duties, in charge of educational functions, but at the same time to carry out sanitary work.

When we finally boarded the curiara - the new teachers, the camp manager and some indigenous people who took the opportunity to return to their villages of origin - a journey began for me that would take me back in time.

I began to hear the distant sounds of birds, of the variety of apes and other jungle dwellers, the thumping of the boat against the water, strangely united with the sound of the engine. After a while of silence and contemplation of the sober but imposing spectacle I began to perceive a lingering conversation, a rhythm of words never heard before, a soft and continuous way of speaking where no one word sounded louder than the other.

I noticed the speakers, two unassuming women less than five feet tall, their straight, black, shiny chin-length hair with a fringe that ended just above their arched eyebrows. Both were adorned with a pair of neatly designed, handcrafted earrings made of coppery metal and bracelets of coloured threads. They wore simple, very simple tops with a striking contrasting border and a relatively wide skirt that reached below their calves. On the skirt of one of the women lay a child who was gazing brightly at me.

Making contact with the child's gaze and hearing for the first time the ancient language of the Sanemá Yanohami, we sailed from north to south along the magnificent river. From time to time the skilful navigator would slow down to the minimum speed. Then a roar of water could be heard. We were in the presence of the whirlpools that form when the water hits a large rock. Once the danger had passed - years later, I learned that there are inclement forces at work there - we could resume the average speed of the journey.

I knew we were getting there when we began to slowly enter smaller and smaller rivers. From the green of the jungle came nearby voices that, I don't know why, sounded cheerful to me.

When the boat reached the small beach and its bow sank into the sand a myriad of white butterflies covered the shore in a flight towards the tall trees. That was my first glimpse of the encounter with the Sanema people.

After the cloud of butterflies cleared I was met head on by Mama's wise gaze and Woraima's beautiful smile. They both placed necklaces made of coloured seeds, red, brown and black, strung on a thread similar to the bracelets of the women who accompanied us.

I walked up from the river bank towards the tribe preceded by the running of the children, as I walked I saw, on both sides of the road, women with their young held on their hips by a sash made of natural fibres, some wearing flowers in their hair. In the distance the men were looking at us holding their bows and arrows.

All were dressed with only a string around their waists with the exception of some men who wore loincloths made of a red cloth.

The female girls and women showed over their calves a tight string. I later learned that with it they moulded the sign of their beauty.

When I reached the plan, the vision of the communal dwelling opened up before me. An imposing churuata made of large logs topped by a high roof, made entirely of moriche palms. On the sides of the churuata a series of movable "windbreaks" served as protection for the small bonfires, distributed among an infinite number of vine "chinchorros" that hung at different heights from the roof.

Outside the feast was being prepared. Children painted their little faces with ash and red clay. Some came up to me and stroked the waves of my hair as if they were playing at sailing in it.

Woraima would cook, from time to time handing me, in small dried gourds, a broth, or bringing me some dried food placed in a banana leaf.

That was the beginning of my stay in the world of that people who have remained, for millennia, suspended in time.

Thank you for reading

(Original photo by Bárbara Brändli)


The photos are my photographs taken from the book Los hijos de la Luna (Children of the Moon) by the Venezuelan anthropologist Daniel Barandiarán. All the photographs in this book were taken by the Venezuelan photographer Bárbara Brändli

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