During the month of February and May, the water level rises which allow the traders to come into the Urarinas basin which was not possible during low water with their boats. The villages on the lower part of the Cambria are flooded during this time of year, but some of the houses are built above the high water mark. The traders are a welcome sight for the Indians as they now can trade for items they want and need. The items from the traders include, aguardiente (sugar cane whiskey), flashlights batteries’, machetes rice just to name a few. The trading with whiskey is very similar to what the mountain men traded with our Indians. Very little cash is used in the exchange of items as the Urarinas have little use for it & there are no store or place to spend cash. One of the big items that the traders are interested in is the Chanta (Heart of Palm). As the trader moves upstream, he makes his deal for Chanta with each village and when he has made enough deals, he will start back downstream picking up the chance as he will want to get the chance to Iquitos in 7 to 10 days. They will also trade for their handicrafts, chickens, pigs, and platens. Also during high water, I have seen on the large balsa rafts which they will live on carrying fruit, small coral with pigs and chickens, but mainly the rafts will be loaded with plantains. This trip will take them about 8 days and upon arrival in Iquitos, they will abandon the raft and with the cash buying items they need plus passage on one of the local launches that travel to their area for a return trip back to their village.
For the Urarinas there is only two seasons, High water and low water. As we approach summer here in the amazon the amazon will rise over 40 feet. During low water, the Urarinas are isolated except on the main tributary which will drop over 30 feet. As the Maranon falls so do the tributaries that feed it. In this basin, some become just a trickle so during this time they just depend on almost entirely the jungle for their basic needs. Some years ago we were in one of the upper villages when a radio call came from a village that their tributary was dry asked if I would walk in with some medicine that we normally have with us. The tourist that was with us said he would love to do the walk to the village. So myself, tourist, some staff and a guide took off for a 5-hour walk the next early morning. Along the way, the guide showed us the vine that has fresh water and that was a refreshing find. When we made it to the village we were warmly greeted by the chief and villagers. We treated those who we could and then started the walk back and during this walk, we passed a hidden burial of the people from the village. This is forbidden for outsiders to see or visit. We spent a short time (no Photos) with the guide explaining how the Urarinas bury their dead. We made it back just in time for supper.
To Be Continued!!!
There were five of us that traveled with Gary in late Oct, early Nov of 2008. Our trip was an adventure of a lifetime. We felt like we were in a National Geographic film.
Gary is very knowledgeable about the indigenous tribes along the Maranon River. We felt safe and well cared for on the trip. Most days were spent traveling on the water. We would arrive in camp early afternoon. We would visit with the locals and see how they lived. We saw a new roof being thatched, crops being planted, a coatimundi shot with a blowgun. Along the river we saw pink dolphins and lovely blue morpho butterflies.
The accommodations are like camping. We took a hike through the jungle to the medical clinic. Along the way we were shown plants and explained how these plants are harvested and used. The trip was a real learning experience and we highly recommend it if you are the person looking for a real adventure. We had great weather when we went. Also Iquitos was an interesting city and we enjoyed our overnight there.