Becoming…The Journey to Lose Myself in an Amazon Village
This is the story referenced in last week’s post about PRACTICE, the 4th P of the ACL Learning Cycle. It just might be the first story ever written in this language and then translated into English, folks. And you get to read it. History in the making.
Gourd Blackening Story
The day before yesterday, in the morning, Kanxig blackened drinking gourds in her kitchen. I watched her.
While she was sealing the gourds, Kanxig said, “Do you and your people do this in your village?” That is what she asked me. “No,” I said to her in response. “Are there drinking gourds in your village?” she asked me also. “No. We don’t have them in our village,” I said to her. “We don’t know how to make drinking gourds,” I said to her.
She told me about the gulãja tree. I recorded her voice because I am learning their language. Kanxig taught me about blackening drinking gourds. I only watched her.
The day before yesterday in the afternoon, Xibu taught me more about blackening drinking gourds. First Xibu smoothed the insides of the gourds with sandpaper. The gourds became pretty that way. Standing Water (her husband) took a hard knob out of one of the gourd’s necks with a knife.
And then Xibu scraped the inside from the gourd-blackening-tree-bark with a spoon.
“Can I do that?” I said to her. “I will help you scrape the gourd blackener from the bark.”
Then Xibu poured water into a dish. And then I put the scraped-out gourd blackener into the dish of water, helping her. Then we rubbed and kneaded and squeezed the wet bark in our hands to make glue. Then we rubbed the glue onto the gourds, to make the gulãja stick in the glue.
Xibu charred gulãja wood in the fire. We crumbled the charred wood into the drinking gourds. And then we rubbed the ashes to blacken the gourds. And then we rubbed the gulãja ashes into them.
And then Xibu charred more gulãja wood because it had run out. “Are you charring even more gulãja wood?” I said to her. “Yes,” she said to me in response.
Denise and Edika arrived afterwards and helped us. And then they helped us blacken the gourds.
And then we put the gourds by the side of the fire. “This is what we do because there is no sunshine, putting them by the fire this way,” Xibu told us. “If there is sunshine we only put them outside to dry,” she told us.
We glued the gourds and blackened the gourds again after they had dried. We blackened them three times. We were almost finished when it was getting dark.
“Another day, we will seal them again with glue, for the last time,” Xibu told us. “The glue is already gone. It is getting dark also,” she said to us. And then we finished, at dusk. Together, we blackened nine drinking gourds.
“That was a really great learning time for me,” I told Xibu. “Thank you for teaching me.” “You’re welcome. Thank you for helping me,” she said.