Friday, November 29, 2013

...Tribal Travelogue……Part 3 of 4 ...

A rooster's crowing and a gong-like noise were our alarms in the morning.  I found out later they were hitting a large railroad tie that was suspended to a tree.

We applied our morning toiletries: a very thick layer of insect repellent, and on top of it, sun-screen.  Though it was early, the insects and sun were relentless. 

With the new day, so came hunger and thirst.  We marveled that the Indians never seemed to drink, eat, or sleep, as we do.  We saw them eat an occasional mango, but never more than that. 

With no supplies still, I was overjoyed I could still have my morning coffee.  Such little luxuries.  I must admit, though, we were getting a bit nervous without a sign that our airplane was approaching, but continued with the day’s activities as if we had no worries. 

The band was led to a hut where they were given the traditional bamboo wrist and ankle bands, the rope and feather necklace, and the rope belt.  Lastly the paint was applied. 

The paint from the healing ceremony was red paint from the waist to neck, with three stripes down each arm and on each side of the chest, and also red paint on each thigh, like a band.  Black paint was applied from the ankle to the knee.  Feathers were then arranged in their hair to provide the finishing touches.  


  During the painting ceremony, as luck would have it, our plane with supplies arrived.  Finally!  Along with our food and water, it carried our most important gear - our recording equipment.  The gear was set up under the three mango trees we visited so often.  The Indians said the acoustics were great, and the large trees provided us with sanctuary from the sun. 

A short test song was done this time.  Sepultura sat in the center of the circle, Max and Andreas on acoustic guitars, Paulo and Igor on drums.  Ross Robinson, our producer, directed.  He was "connected," he told us. 

Some of the men used various percussion instruments - handmade gourd maracas.  They all stamped their right foot in time to their chanting, which grew louder and louder, sometimes diminishing to almost a whisper. 

Once, the children surrounded me, admired my tattoos and writing, and touched my green hair.  I was joined by a tribe elder and shared my Marlboros.  He was splendid, with the red paint on his forehead and both ears pierced. 

Me with the tribe kids
 They wear a piece of wood which is inserted through a very large hole in their ear.  In September, they held their piercing ceremony.  When a boy turns 14, he is to become a man.  They stand in the river for two days to soften their skin, coming out only to eat and sleep.  A slender piece of wood is inserted through their ears.  The older and wiser they get, the large the piece of wood. 

The women and children watched the dance, only the men participated this day.  I learned that when a man marries, his father chooses his bride.  They are also allowed more than one wife. 

We soon stopped for a break, with the hot sun beating on us.  We took a lunch of potatoes, rice and chicken, and the enjoyed the luxury of a short rest.  The flies and other insects attacked us as we tried to sleep. 

Around 4:30 P.M., the band did a very impressive photo shoot with Michael Grecco manning the cameras.  It took place in an old abandoned building nearby.  When this was completed, we returned to the recording site. 

The Indian performed various chants to decide which chant would be most suited to accompany Sepultura.  The Datsi Wawere chant was selected and the test recording done.  It was now dusk, we had a break for dinner and returned for an hour.  

  We returned and the final take was done.  The tribe asked for Sepultura to perform, but we explained that Sepultura plays with amplifiers and much more gear.  They understood and returned to their late night activities. 

The band, Roadrunner reps, Ross, myself, Cipasse, Severia and the chief met at the school house for a meeting that went on until midnight.  It was here that we went into detail about the intent and usage of the photos and video.  The tribe was extremely concerned about how we will project their image to the world.  It was a great meeting, with Sepultura also expressing their concerns.  They, too, have suffered prejudice because of their music, tattoos and overall appearance.  We ended with mutual respect and heart felt admiration for each other.