Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Balahoo, Parakari and the Beasts!

A few weeks back the "Balahoo" from the Village of Simuni arrived at the landing.  They had things to sell; mostly just bananas, plantains and farine (grated and roasted Cassava meal that is the staple of Savannahs). I went down to the landing and did my shopping, while Diane inquired as to where they were going.  They were on their way up river to Yupakari to visit and shop and sell.  They were camping at our landing, at least for tonight.

We did not have any guests and everybody was finally having a breather.  The staff quickly gathered down at the landing and next thing I knew, there were buckets appearing.  There was squeezing of Cassava pulp through strainers and into buckets.   "Parakari" or "Kari" is basically Cassava Beer.  It is fermented for a few days and used to be chewed up and spit out into a large old canoe by the women and left to ferment.  These days the women still do most of the "brewing", but it is made with sugar, instead of saliva.

I put up a good fight. I waylaid two buckets on the way up to the staff quarters.  But it was a loosing battle.  It came round through the bush, through the back, up the path....the staff was down for three days.  It is very difficult to describe the Amerindians on alcohol and they really like it. So, we had to help out with everything.  And the guests came on the third day, but it was only four of them, so we got through it.  I took the Otters down to the river a few times, careful to keep my feet away from their mouths.  Andrea got caught on the top of the rock, waving as the guests were leaving and took her eyes off Philip (the bigger one) for two seconds and nearly had her tendons ripped out. These two are nothing like Buddy.  Don't let that cute face fool you.  They are vicious and powerful beasts. And these are only babies.
Then of course, there is the "Bandito",
who is always into mischief. Toothpaste is his favorite thing!  At night he goes hunting, but often ends up in one (or several) of the cabins checking out what the guests have brought that he might like! All too often, the guests still have the little pink, sweet, sweet, sweet, cookies that they are served on the plane. "Bandito" is famous for unzipping bags and finding them and hiding under their beds and "CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH". He's sweet...but don't trust him either...he too is a wild animal!

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