Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sacred Music Mixes


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Back from Pevas

We arrived safely from our 9 day filming trip on the Ampiyacu river near the city of Pevas. We visited five different Amazonian communites, heard four distinct tribal languages (one of them, Ricigaro has less than 5 people in the community who speak it), and saw how each community has been able to hold on to their unique customs while living so close to other tribes. One village had a line drawn down the middle--one side spoke Bora and the other side spoke Huitodo which apparently sound nothing alike. Fascinating. We also visited the tribal elders in each community and were able to record their songs, which were unlike anything I´ve heard before.

There is a lot to be excited about in these communities and a lot of what we were expecting. Everyone is talking about oil companies coming in and wondering what their approach should be when they start offering these depressed communities large sums of money for access to their lands and waters. All of the shamans we meet at least in their 60´s and so far, we haven´t seen any apprentices to pass on their traditions. We are hoping that our presence has been able to show them that the outside world is interesting in hearing more, that these things are worth saving.

Ever bit of our trip has been so well-documented by our talented team, but unfortunately Iquito´s finest internet cafe does not have computers that read RAW files (big professional photographer files), so I may not be able to get any pictures up until after I get back home. I´ll start pestering Phil to upload some of his pictures.

We are going to spend two days recording the beautiful songs of our shaman friend Cesar during his ayahuasca ceremonies. He actually came with us as a guide on our trip and after spending so much time with him, I am just amazed by what a powerful, angelic man he is. I have never seen someone rest so fully, jump to action so readily when he is needed, and laugh so hard when our other guide Ramon´s hammock fell from its post with him in it. Spending time with him has been one of the highlights of the trip for me and I cant wait to share his healing songs with you all. There is talk of him coming to the States soon.

As always, there is more I´d like to say but there is work to be done. The day is hot and busy outside and its always interesting to think of ourselves in the city of 400,000 people that is buried within all this greenness. It makes me feel really small and young before it all--a kind of reverence with a smile in its eyes.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Bora people

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I am writing on a rainy night from ¨Cyber,¨an internet cafe in the plaza de armas of Iquitos. All the buildings are shabby with tall ceilings--reminders of the elegance of the rubber boom. Young children roam the streets selling beaded bracelets and little boxes of gum that loses its flavor in less than 5 minutes. There is a constant hum from the swarms of motorcycles and mototaxis that navigate the streets (many of which are named after nearby rivers) and any car that cuts across theon the road looks like an instant predator.

The trip is off to a successful start. After two weeks filming the effects of the Interoceanic highway in Madre de Dios, Rebecca and Ryan arrived in Iquitos this weekend and were reunited with Laura, who has been here for over a month studying plant medicines. Phil and I flew into Lima on Sunday night and spend a day trying to navigate Lima´s chaotic transportation system and finally getting a meeting with the communications director of Peru´s indigenous movement, AIDESEP, who told us essentially that South American countries are biding their time by selling the rights to these tracks of land between themselves and the people of the jungle are prepared to take up arms against anyone who tries to invade their land.

We leave tomorrow for 10 days to travel by overnight river boat to Pevas and from there we will travel to a town farther up river to ask permission to attend a meeting of tribal leaders to discuss the problem of encroaching oil prospectors. Our guides will be Walter, the son of the nearby Bora tribe, and Cesar, a trusted shaman who we have known for years. They have assured us that by accompanying us we will be accepted by the tribal leaders, so for now we can only hope for the best.

Even in the city we have been able to record the songs and dances of the Bora people and a few amazing local shamans. So many people warn us that we need to be careful here are there are many shamans who cater to travelers just to make money and are not working for the best interest of the jungle and her medicines. We are lucky that we have been able to witness the work of these talented shamans who have been able to use these plants to develop their intuitions and healing powers.

It´s good to be back in Peru and its different pace of life. I love the sing-song accent of the people here and the few times we have been able to escape the city to quiet, verdant jungle. We hope these next 10 days will be full of songs, stories and a few safe adventures.

Thanks to everyone who has donated to ¨Spirit Songs.¨Your donations are being used for equipment, transportation costs, and to pay our local guides.

We will update again after we return from our trek.

With love,