Amazon Journey – Day 3 – learning the Artesania Process

Today was such a fantastic day that it made the whole trip worthwhile! Kike (the owner of Omshanty) arranged for us to spend a day with one of his neighbors, Daniela, an indigenous artesan who, like generations of women before her, makes traditional handicrafts. Jade is particularly interested in handicrafts and really got into the whole process from start to finish.

We started off the day by going with Daniela and two of her daughters (11 and 4 years old) into the jungle to find the plants we would need. We found the tall, stringy bamboo-like plant which Daniela and her older daughter swifty chopped down with a machete. Jade and I then helped them peel off the fibers which would be used to make the yarn. We then continued further into the jungle to find the leaves and plants which we would use to dye the yarn. So cool!

Armed with our loot, we returned to Daniela´s house and spent the day peeling the fibers, crushing the seeds and plants for coloring, cooking the string with the natural dye (we even rolled some in mud to get the desired blue color), setting it out to dry, rolling the fiber into string  and finally weaving our bracelets.

As amazing as it was to participate in the whole ancient process, the best part of it all for me was just to hang out with Daniela and her family in their village, learning about their customs and traditions. People dropped by to say hello as we worked and talked and we got to experience a little bit of everyday life in an indigenous jungle settlement. Daniela´s four year old daughter played with her cousins, bathing a puppy, balancing on wood beams, and jumping barefoot from log to log as chickens milled about. In the early afternoon, Daniela´s mom came home from a tribal meeting and joined us in the work, weaving her baskets. She and Daniela gossiped about people at the meeting and I couldn´t help but smile and think to myself how people are the same all over.

There was something so lovely and organic about their lifestyle, living so in tune with nature and their whole clan, that I wanted to stay with them longer. Despite the oppressive heat and humidity and fairly basic living conditions, I honestly wanted to stay with them for at least a month because I could sense that I have so much to learn here. We might have alot of comfort in our lives but I was struck by how isolated and lonely our lifestyle has become. We, like most people from ¨developed¨ countries live in nuclear families, far away from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, rushing around stressed so we can ¨get it all done¨. It made me wonder, what´s the point of it all?

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