Today we took a 30 minute boat ride to the community of Tirirca’s Caboclo which is made up of only about 12 families. We had the opportunity to see a parrot and macaw snacking on a banana. We walked around and saw the various plant species that grew on their land. It seemed that almost every plant we came across had a different use or purpose which Leandro told us about. One of the fruits we saw is used as a dye. Leandro painted designs on our arms with it. He later told us it would last two months! Leandro has such an extensive knowledge because he is indigenous to an Amazonian Indian tribe called Macuxi.
A big part of ecotourism is helping the local community, which is why Anavilhana’s Ecolodge hires indigenous people to work as tour guides and other positions at the lodge. We visited the village’s gift shop which had handmade necklaces and earrings made out of nuts, berries, seeds, and beans. The money from the sales helps the tribe purchase things like school supplies and clothes. By purchasing gifts, tourists contribute to the wellbeing of the community while learning about their traditions. We then came back to the Ecolodge and met with the new General Manager, Fran, who has extensive education and business experience in ecotourism, which is her passion. Though she has only worked here for 20 days, she has many ideas to make ecolodges more sustainable by adding more solar panels, getting less polluting engines for boats, and creating a training program for the local employees. After meeting with the GM, we headed out on the boat again with our canoes in tow. We partnered up and paddled through another flooded forest, although some of us had some trouble maneuvering and ended up caught in branches. In a larger clearing, we were able to jump out of our canoes and swim around in the Rio Negro! At the end of the day we had a story telling session from Leandro on traditions such as the rites of passage for men and women in Indian tribes. We have a long day planned tomorrow, so it’s time to get some sleep!
A photo of the Tirirca’s Caboclo Community from our boat. The yellow boat on the right is the school boat that the children take to school!