It’s hard to give you just one quick summarizing entry about a home so different from my home, where the majority of our trip was spent. So I just have to break it into many stories for you.
The Arrival, the Family, the Starfruit;
Our introduction to our new home
Javier’s home, in Brillo Nuevo
After an unknown number of meditative, exhaustive, hours in Javier’s canoe we at last arrived at the edge of Brillo Nuevo, and came up upon the bank that was nearest Javier’s home. We set up “Gringo camp” in Javier’s living room, which I’m sure was perceived as quite strange with our tents, hammocks, and laundry draping from one beam to the next. After a sleepless bug bitten night in my less than mosquito proof hammock I opted to spend the next two weeks on a foam mat on the floor with a mosquito net draped over top. From my posh perspective Javier’s home was very modest, it consisted of two rooms, a family room and single family bedroom, and a kitchen. His home was built from boards he made from trees pulled from the jungle. We soon learned that Javier’s home was not a modest home for the town of Brillo Nuevo, but was in fact quite grand. My largest concern, having a net surrounded mattress in the middle of his living room, was could I survive two weeks without privacy, which is a very American “need”. As was soon evident to me from Javier’s many curious children and relatives.
After lunch Yully, Campbell and I set out to greet the other local villagers, announcing Campbell’s joyous yearly return, or as they simply called him “el doctor”. Almost every artist had an armful of things to show us, or stories to share with us. I met Campbell’s top selling artist, a very hard-working, and incredibly high-spirited woman named Ines. (Who is one in a large family of women weavers.) Her husband fetched me a fruit out of the star fruit tree in front of their home; it was indescribable to eat one so fresh. As we moved through the village we met many carvers of “Juingos”, known in English as Calabash. These artists had carved Christmas ornament sized fruits. We were sad to find that they had been encouraged to strip away the entire back ground, leaving no interesting negative space around the figure. As it was getting dark and the three or so hours of generator produced electricity the village got about every day began to dwindle, we set home for our first Bora lesson. This is unlike any language I have ever heard, and it’s challenging to describe. It’s full of loud enunciation, and sharp pauses. For example good day, which in Spanish is Buenas Dias, is Imi Cyoj in Bora, pronounced eem-mee-quo-heur. After an exhausting day I decided I would brave the shower platform, which was in the center walkway of the house. Showering is not the private, warm, relaxing experience I am used to in my New Orleans apartment. Rather the platform is several boards, I unluckily learned were not nailed down, and two large barrels that collect rain water. I learned very quickly one for goes modesty in the jungle, which after years of Quaker camp was not such a challenge. Just as in Nueva Esperanza you dump water, lather, and dump again.
What I observed in these first few hours was that life here is very hard. It’s a life of intense labor, where everyone works a very physical life, but as I have found in other rough travels the people here are always quick with a smile and a laugh. Similar to my experience in Palestine, foreign NGO’s come and go, and trust does not come easy, as it has been broken many times before. Campbell has gained notoriety through his years of work, and seems to have earned a very valuable trust.