• Item ID:GUYP
  • ISBN13: 978-1-60265-009-1
  • Copyright 2009
  • 336 pp.
  • 0.25lb
  • Form: Paperback, Trade paperback (US)
  • Price: $19.95
  • Promotion:

Growing Up Yanomamo

Missionary Adventures in the Amazon Rainforest

Content Sample

Friends and Anacondas

In 1960 we moved to the village of Coshilowateli. It's located on the Padamo River, just where the Metaconi River flows into it. I would have to say that most of my childhood memories actually begin at "Cosh," since I was five years old when we moved there. We had been working up at Calijocos, but the trip up to that village was brutal, especially for my mom, now with so many little ones. By this time, along with the first children mentioned (Steve, Gary, Faith, and Velma), there was also Susan, Sandy, and me. Just a short way upriver from Cosh, the river becomes very rough, with lots of whitewater. Navigating this requires many hours of portaging your boat over the rapids, which means you have to be in and out of the canoe, walking around the rapids dragging your canoe. Some of the rapids require you to run them in the boat and motor. While quite the adventure-something like a roller-coaster ride-it was not something Mom enjoyed doing with seven small children, the oldest not yet nine years old. So, when Paul Dye volunteered to work up in that area and leave the downriver villages to my parents, my dad readily accepted. Paul was a single man, and though I'm not positive how old he was at the time, he couldn't have been much older than twenty. So, that decided, we moved to Cosh.

I was just the right age to thoroughly enjoy everything that happened there. One night Mom and Dad woke us up saying we had to leave the house because the river was flooding. The darkness was complete; it was utterly, pitch black. I don't remember who carried me, but I could hear the splashing of the water beneath their feet as we made our way to higher ground. The water was high enough that Mom did not want to wade in it while carrying my baby sister Sandy. So, a small dugout canoe was brought along to transport her and my infant sister to safety. Mom grabbed up an armload of washed diapers, not having any idea how long they were going to be forced to live as refugees from the flood. Meanwhile, the rest of us were getting farther and farther away. Possibly because she was afraid of being left by herself, Mom hurried, trying to get into the boat. Suddenly, with a much louder splash, the canoe flipped over, with Mom in it, tipping her, her infant baby, and those precious dry diapers into the inky black water. The canoe just happened to be straddled over a prickly pineapple plant, further aggravating my already thoroughly miserable mom.

We spent the night in a smoky Indian hut. The Yanomamo use open fires in their houses, so the smoke is so thick many times it feels like you could cut it with a knife. It makes your eyes water and your nose run and it sure felt like high adventure that night. The next day was even better. We went back over to the house and Dad made us a sleeping place up in the loft. He stayed downstairs and cooked food, then passed it up to us. I remember sitting on the little ladder Dad had made with poles, watching Yanomamo kids (as well as adults) paddle their small dugout canoes in through the front door, then out the back door. It really seemed like a fine place to live!