- There are three tribes remaining in Ecuador, two of which are nomadic and don’t want any communication with the rest of us. The third, the matriarchal Wuaorani tribe, allow contact. I wonder whether having a female chief affected the decision to be more open about sharing their culture (the other tribes are polygamous and maybe the male chiefs are more concerned with spreading their seed than spreading the word)? (I know, far too simplistic, and I do appreciate the difficulties in managing modern world contact to avoid adversely affecting national and cultural traditions.)
- In Inca times, when a chief died, his wife was given a drink containing a strong, lethal dose of mescaline so that she could go to ‘sleep’ with her husband and enter the next life with him.
- The size of the earrings of tribe members signifies their importance within the tribe, hence the leader will have some serious holiness going on. It made me think back to British tribes – modern day ones – where there seems to be a similar hierarchy in relation to the amount and size of the piercings (and tattoos).
- Huge, heavy four and a half metre blow pipes are still used today (I had a go with one; it’s difficult to hold but fairly straight forward to line up). A muscular anaesthetic, found in the jungle and supposedly utilised in modern western medicine, is placed on the darts. It paralyses the animal, usually a monkey, but doesn’t contaminate the meat.