Hiddin jungle birds are singing some fantastic tunes while beautiful, poisonous insects are crawling on us. The coffee-with-milk colored river is slowly flowing next to us, without a sound. Our saw that cuts through the bamboo breaks the idyllic setting in a wonderful way. It is a lovely place to build the raft. We cut and measure the bamboo and start to make our first joints from rope and wire. Things are progressing slowly, but we are learning by doing. The first joints are not very strong or exact and we discuss other technics. Slowly things are progressing.
On day two, our local landlords break the ice and their curiosity to go talk to us: They monitor our work for a little while. “Is it good?” we ask them. “Yes, it is good! But we have a different manner of tying bamboo together” they politely say. I translate that as “Nahhh, your work kinda sucks and we can teach you”. It is clear that they don’t want to offend us and don’t want to dictate how we do things, they just want to help.
We give them some rope and ask them to show us how they make a bamboo joint. 5 minutes later and the art of bamboo-tying has been proven: A super-tight bamboo joint entirely fixed in one position, no movement. That’s the work of a local who knows what he is doing. We can’t hide our enthusiasm and start to learn how the make the joints in a similar manner.
It turns out that our landlord family is tribal: They belong to the Shuar tribe, who have lived in the Amazon jungle for millennia. They have moved a bit closer to town to partake in a more modern life: education for the kids, jobs for the adults and the convenience of modern life with Colgate-toothpaste and a Honda motorbike. They still fish and farm, they have their own language but also speak Spanish, they still live in the jungle just a bit closer to town, the whole family lives under the same roof and appear proud of their cultural heritage. They are super-friendly.
With only 7 pieces of bamboo, the raft is already heavy. We have to consider a way to get it into the river before it gets too heavy to lift it manually. A simple ramp is installed into the river and more local people help us to move the 300kg bamboo monster. On day two, the raft is floating!
Things have turned out really good. We found all the materials at reasonable prices, we have a place to construct the raft where we can leave our materials overnight, safely. The construction site is heavenly and it is a pleasure to work in the middle of the jungle. Our local landlord is Tribal Amazonian and teaches us how to tie the bamboo together. 2 weeks. In 2 weeks we might be setting off.