Cipó de Jabuti – Amazon riverine stories
By Micah Moen
Stories, such as escada-de-jabuti [Brazilian tortoise stairway], which is a vine, shaped kind of like a stairway, so it’s called escada-de-jabuti [Brazilian tortoise stairway]. So, the monkey is the first animal in the florest to eat its fruits, while he’s still up there in the trees… the other animals, below… eat after the monkeys start to… eat and shake those trees, then the fruits start to fall and the monkey, observing the other animals eating down below he saw many animals pigs, deers, armadillos or even tapirs, whatever but he wouldn’t see the tortoise. the tortoise was always the last one to arrive because it’s a very slow animal, right? So the monkey seeing this whole situation called for God as if… he could ask… for a stairway for the tortoise. Then, God built the vine, which originated escada-de-jabuti [Brazilian tortoise stairway]. When it was ready, the monkey said: “Hey, I asked God and he built a escada-de-jabuti for you, so you now have to come up here to eat your fruits.” The tortoise stared at the monkey, thanked him, and tried to climb it. My name is Raimunda das Chagas Ribeiro, also known as Saracá, which also fits my motto: “the best there is” [rhymes in Portuguese] I arrived here in 1980 there wasn’t anything but two houses… I struggled a lot but I became the teacher I am today By being a teacher… I started establishing a community here. Yes, our community was founded in 1996. people would make money out of fishing, as they still do and timber extraction, but you know… after the environmental reserve started, around 10 years ago you can do all sorts of things in a reserve, however, there’s always a limit. When the environmental reserve was created it all got really difficult… people would not be able to timber anymore, they said we couldn’t. My name is Vera Lúcia Garrido da Silva, I am a teacher, graduated in environmental sciences by the Amazonas Federal University, I am from Amazonas, even though I live in Tumbira. So my father dreamt about something better for us because he used to say that one day… we would have tourism here and that it was the future’s economy. Most of our people here are fishers, but there’s a fishing harvest, from March until June, then it ends, and they have nothing to do during the rest of the year. There is no choice, not even timber extraction, which was their first choice in the past it isn’t a main source of income anymore. So community-based tourism started. Here’s what happens, I need someone to take a tourist to the igarapé (river) I go look for a local to take the tourist there. I go buy cassava from a local who plants it, If there’s someone selling handicraft, I recommend it they make rugs, purses, dishrags they make all sorts of things, right? I’m buying it, I’m generating some income. So, everything life taught me while working with timber extraction I retrieve it to work with tourism now. My grandfather, my father, what they knew and taught me what they’ve learned living in the forest, even if it was for timber extraction, nowadays it has been worthing a lot. It’s bringing opportunities through knowledge. Stories, such as escada-de-jabuti [Brazilian tortoise stairway] stories like those that I pass forward… transferring to visitors that come here, a story that is truly from the forest. I believe the forest has everything we need for us to achieve sustainability from everything that’s around us. The money I used to make by timbering… now I make it by conservating. That was a part of my transformation, of bringing benefits by valuing people, giving them opportunities, bringing education I believe that by including those who visit us, and taking some of our knowledge somewhere else bringing some from the outside too… I know that the more we conserve, the more development we may have through visitors in our community. I believe that’s the way.