Wednesday morning, January 23, 2019
This is truly the wet season, with about 12 inches of rain per month. Meltwater from the Andes also contributes to the high waters. The high waters allow us to explore more widely by boat than we might be able to in the dry season. We do get wet, though, and this morning, we endured a deluge while exploring the Marayali creek, which, during high water, is a shortcut between the Marañón and Ucayali Rivers. The rain was so heavy, it was surprising that our skiff pilot could find his way back to the boat. We passengers simply put our heads down and hoped our cameras were safely dry. My binoculars did get moisture on one side, so I had monovision for the rest of the week.
Later in the morning, we visited the community of San Francisco to learn more about how the Ribereños live and work here. We watched a few demonstrations, including how to squeeze the juice from the sugarcane (Mark got to try his hand at this), how to separate the chaff from the brown rice that’s grown here (and feed the chickens at the same time), and how to weave palm fronds into thatch for their roofs. These thatch roofs do a very good job of keeping the rain out. Also, we saw smaller palm fibers hanging in the sun to dry. These fibers are dyed with natural colors, and then woven into bowls, birds, animals, napkin rings, and placemats for sale to tourists. Of course, I found a couple of things to purchase.
The community has benefitted from a program called Minga Peru,which trains locals in marketable skills, such as fish farming, agriculture, and weaving baskets and trinkets to sell to tourists like us. Minga Peru is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable change for indigenous women and their communities. We heard from a few women and men about how this program has changed their lives, especially by giving women more autonomy, and teaching men to respect women’s power.
Around noon today, we sailed to the confluence of the Marañón and Ucayali Rivers, to toast the Amazon River. We begin sailing up the Ucayali River this afternoon.