The trip to Mato Grosso, including brief visits to Kamayura and Xavante Indian villages, is scheduled for July 19 to August 5. Students will be accompanied by Associate Head of School & Dean of Students Brian Easler, Dean of Studies Erik Kindblom, and Director of Marketing & Communications Meghan Rothschild.
To prepare for their trip, students read Voices from the Amazon by Binka Le Breton, and appropriate articles from various sources. They attended classes earlier this spring and were presented with topics such as Brazilian ecosystems, the landless workers movement, and informational talks about fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds of the area. Also included in the classes was such logistical information as visas, vaccinations, and packing information.
The students began their study with a viewing of Valley of the Forgotten, a documentary film vividly showing the many levels of conflict in the Amazon Basin.
Last year's trip caught the attention of BusinessWest with the article, Lessons from the Amazon by George O'Brien. It explores how "WMA Students Witness the Conflict Between Progress, Conservation."
Today, after absolutely hilarious sleeping conditions (we all slept in hammocks next to one another and Beneddito's alarm clock woke us up with Samba music four times), the students headed out for a boat ride. They went to gather fruit and Jenipapo, the pod that provides the ink for the traditional tribe painting.
After that, it was time to SHOP! All the village families gathered for "market," meaning they brought jewelry, tapestries, pottery, war clubs, and bows and arrows for us to purchase. Everyone made out great and walked away with some amazing, authentic merchandise. Plus, our contributions help the tribe continue to thrive.
During the late afternoon, we were privileged enough to witness training for the men's warrior festival happening in a few weeks. Tribesmen of all ages gathered to train in wrestling for the big festival.
on Monday July 30, 2012 at 08:48PM
Today we arrived at the Kamayura tribe, where we will stay until Wednesday morning.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with the Women's Warrior Festival, signifying the maturation of the women particiapting. The legend of the Lost Amazon Women Tribe is remembered at this particular festival. The celebration represents the story of a 400-year-old tribe whose entire male population went out fishing and got lost. The women had to become warriors and hunters as the lost men turned into animal forms.
After students arrived we spent the afternoon swimming in the lake with the children, eating a homecooked lunch, and then getting painted in the traditional Kamayura patterns.
Matt, Ms. Rothschild and Mr. Easler received the traditional "scratches" from tribe warrior leader Cotia. Cotia uses a dog-fish-tooth comb to rake the skin and draw blood. Then, Cotia mashes the medicinal matter in his hands with water and rubs it on the open wounds. Because this is an invasive process, only those who are 18 and older are allowed (by WMA) to partake.
on Sunday July 29, 2012 at 08:16PM
Today we visited the Xavante Indian tribe. On behalf of WMA, we donated eight cows to the tribe, feeding over 900 people. The Xavante expressed extreme appreciation for our donation during the exchange (video to come).
After Mr. Easler participated in the ceremonial celebration of kiling two cows, we headed to visit with the families and children of the tribe.
Students participated in a traditional race with the young men of the tribe, an activity they do each day to help stay fit . Tonight, after a quick change in plans, we are staying in a hotel in Mato Grosso and will head to the Kamayura tribe tomorrow (on Sunday).
on Sunday July 29, 2012 at 01:06PM
Last night students received a lesson on jaguars from Beneddito. He explained mating habits, distribution and diet to the students. This morning, around 5:30 a.m., we headed out to "call" a jaguar to us just a few minutes away from Rancho Jatoba. Although we didn't see one, we did hear a reply and the kids had fun!
After breakfast we headed to a self-sustaining home with Pedro the frontiersman and his wife, children and grandchildren. Pedro traveled over 1,000 kilometers in 1962 to settle where he is located and his household is completely self-sustaining with the exception of recently added electricity.
On the way to Pedro's we encountered an anteater and an iguana.
Later, students learned about many medicinal plants and what ailments they treat. Pedro is an expert in this field and was able to tell students about plants that could treat ulcers, heartburn, common cold symptoms and the flu.
Speaking of medicinal plants... Mr. Kindbloom who's been fighting a bit of a cold, tried a home remedy last night with sap from a mescala tree. (Scroll down to see the video below.)
After a long day of jaguar calling and a trip to the frontiersman's home, the students unwound with some swimming and fishing on a nearby beach.
Tomorrow we head to the Indians, so communication may be limited.
Stay tuned for more stories from the Amazon!
View all photos from the trip in the slideshow to the right of the screen ------>
on Saturday July 28, 2012 at 02:23PM
After the two teams switched activities, Mr. Easler and Mr. Kindbloom took some of the students fishing. They caught a few piranhas while they were out and appear to be enjoying their catch in the photos below.
on Saturday July 28, 2012 at 12:50PM
Team Angry Birds went on the turtle expedition today. We received a lesson from Jeda, the turtle expert, who works for Aliança Da Terra.
Students learned that currently 90% of the locals support the Turtles of the Amazon project. As opposed to 10% of the population supporting it five years ago. The project has completely changed the perception of turtles as food, clothing, etc in the local community. Five years ago you could find 45 nests on a beach but now, through their efforts, you can find over 400! They need donations to continue their work.
Turtles of the Amazon is one of many projects conducted by Aliança Da Terra. If you wish to donate to the Turtles of the Amazon project, please contact Charton Locks for more information.
on Thursday July 26, 2012 at 06:02PM
"In partnership with the National Center for Research and Conservation of Reptiles and Amphibians - RAN, this direct conservation action involves the protection of breeding areas of two Amazonian river turtle species on the Rio das Mortes River in Mato Grosso. Close to five million Amazon turtles have been raised successfully and released into the wild, contributing to the restocking and recovery of these endangered species."
Turtles of the Amazon is one of many projects conducted by Aliança Da Terra.
"To create a popular movement, born of rural producers and adopted throughout Brazil, that will foster governance on the Amazon frontier and provide an alternative development pathway, balancing human dignity, food production and conservation of the environment."
If you wish to donate to the Turtles of the Amazon project, please contact Charton Locks for more information.
on Thursday July 26, 2012 at 09:59AM