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THE AMAZON JUNGLE
Pictures of trips and expeditions made into the Amazon jungle by Eduardo Ferreyra and Prof. César Miranda since 1966 until 1998.

César Miranda, Emerit professor at the Córdoba National University, began his exploring trips to the Amazon jungle in 1964, in the region of the Guaporé River and northwest part of the Bolivian Amazon. Eduardo Ferreyra made his first expedition in November 1970 -the "Expedición Cine-Documental Amazonas-Orinoco" that started from Iquitos, Perú, went down river by the Amazonas-Solimoes to Manaus, Brazil. The original plan of ascending the Rio Negro, reach the Casiquiare, and later the Orinoco, had to be abandoned for technical reasons: the rubberboat was in bad shape.

Originally planned for four members, only one traveler reached the riverside at Iquitos. Seen from a 32 years distance, the expedition was a crazy thing born from the utmost inexperience in jungle matters. However, the God of the Crazy and Audacious allowed that just only one person could perform the duties of river pilot, explorer, cook, hunter, producer, script writter, director, cameraman (16 mm then!), photographer, sound technician and public relations --and return home to tell about it.

The long downriver journey in the Amazon river had three unexpected passengers: a Canadian student called Jack Maluga, from Wynyard, Saskatchewan, that "hitchhiked" from a spot in a curve of the river, asking for a lift to Leticia, Colombia, 400 kilometers downriver. The other two went onboard at Tabatinga, Brazil, sent by the Brazilian government as guides and translators. They were: Major Roberto Guaranys, from the Brazilian Air Force, second in command at the ParaSAR unit (Airborne Search & Rescue), and his adjutant, Srg. Djalma Lins e Silva. The government took the opportunity to conduct a good census and data gathering in the area of the Upper Solimoes, its population, primary needs, economic situation, etc.

Ferreyra with Mukuinkiu, the "curaka" in the Jivaro village of Wichimi, near the Ecuador-Peru border, in Jan. 1980.
Above left: preparing the 35 mm Nikon F photo equipment just before departing from Tamanicoá, in the Upper Solimoes river. Sarg. Lins observes while holding his M-16. Ferreyra was travelling as a journalist (special correspondent) to the SIETE DIAS magazine in Argentina, that published in July 1971 a long article on the trip. Above, right: Lins and Ferreyra unload a Honda E-300 portable electric generator that gave useful and valuable service during the expedition, serving as power source for the SSB radio transmitter and for lighting camps at night. Radio transmissions were performed daily with bases in Manaus, and HQ in Rio de Janeiro. Thanks to the radio we were able to save the life of a young boy bitten by a "jararaca", a big poisonous snake in an isolated shack. The radio message was received by "SalvAero Manaus" the Air Force rescue service that sent a PBY-5 "Catalina" airplane in a 800 kilometers flight for retrieving the boy and taking him to the General Hospital in Manaus.
A brief stopover in Sao Felix (just a shack) for repairing the manual fuel pump for the Mercury 35 HP outboard engine that gave us trouble until it was replaced by a Johnson pump, kindly provided by a river trader in Manicoa. Arrival to Sao Paulo de Olivenca, two days downriver from Tabatinga. Shown are the plastic fuel cans carrying 220 liters of gasoline. When arriving to Manus, the rubber boat said "enough!".

When in Manaus, I was invited to participate in the "Jungle Survival and Anti-Guerrilla Warfare Course (Commando Traning)" given at the CIGS (Center for Jungle Warfare) of the Brazilian Army. It was there where I finally really knew what the jungle is and how to survive with a knife and a machete.

I met there an officer from Guyana (Major Watson Joseph), and many Brazilian majors and colonels. About 30% of the pupils graduate with the title of "Jungle Experts". The rest are sent back to their units in shame.

Typical scene in a "Camel Trophy", where an Army truck is stuck in mud in the road between the bases of Puraquequara and BEC-2 (Training camp #2). A 11 kilometer trip took us about 7 hours.
In the Peruvian part of the expedition: a Yagua indian prepares the dart he will use in his blowgun for hunting birds and provide for his family meal.
The previous day to the final exam exercise "Escape and Flee" from a concentration camp. The "prisoners" must escape and run 17 km by night through the jungle and reach a point in the road to BEC-2, where they will be picked up by a truck awaiting them The "camp guards" will start the pursuit and will try to catch them. The "prisoner" that gets caught does not get his degree. The prisoners have the help from waimiris indians, collaborating with the jungle training.
Also in the Peruvian Amazon: a Jivaro family coming from the Upper Pastazas region (they are not from the Iquitos area, where they had been taken by a tourism agency as touristic attraction), prepare their blowgun darts for the daily hunt. Darts are poisoned with curare only for hunting, as the war is carried away with spears, machetes and fireguns.

EXPEDITION to "JIVARÍA" in WICHIMI, ECUADOR

In 1980, Ferreyra and Miranda made their first joint trip, a research among the Jivaros (Shuaras) in Ecuador. The "jivaria" is at the Wichimi River, and its partiarch is "curaka" Mukuinkiu, a legend in the region: he has "hunted" 14 human heads from his enemies --and shrunk them. Jivaros are polygamous, although new generations have been converted to christianity and abandoned the practice. Even though, there are still houses where the owner has two or three wives.

A Tiriós indian in the fransiscan Mission of Tiriós, run with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) near the border with Surinam. They managed to reunite there three different groups of indians that have been traditional enemies for ages: Tiriós, Cashuyanas, and Ewarhoyanas. Today they live in peace, with the help of the FAB.
 
Waákiach, son of Mukuinkiu, is an achuara warrior with all his "feathers": only warriors that proved their courage can use the tawaspa, the headgear made with toucan feathers. In the picture, our friend holds is blowgun and wears a red rayon shirt that would not take off --he has ugly scars in his chest, war wounds that he dislikes to show. Ferreyra videotaping a jivaro crop field (chaco) while Petsein , another son of Mukuinkiu, looks at the tape recorder. The lumber pile in the background will be burned in a few minutes, following the old costume of "slash & burn" technique, where they have crops in three levels: yuca, potatoes, peanuts, manioc; corn and bananas. Men plant, women weed. Curaka Mukuinkiu shows with pride the gift I have just given him: a bead collar I bought from the Cuna indians in Panama. Jivaros also make the same kind of ornaments, now with plastic beads provided by the missionaires, but in ancient times they used colored seeds and little bones from birds.
Detail of Waákiach's "tawaspa". On the rear is an attachment known as tsukanka apujtai, with flowers made of small toucan feathers and with a long tail made of human hair (from a killed enemy, or from someone that cut his hair for money?). When we departed, he sold me his tawaspa for about 50 dollars. A fortune there! Mukuinkiu's brothers: Rumik at the left, and "fat" Antuni on the right. Rumik has 9 heads hunted, the other has 11. Picture taken during a visit they made to Petsein's home. They drank nijiamanche (yuca beer), the conversation went for hours and everybody got to know the latest news in the region. No UPI or CNN here (lucky them!)

More pages and pictures from the Amazon jungle will be posted here in the future.

Updated September 2, 2002

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