Wendee Nicole
Photography: PERU

The Yine Project: People of the Amazon

Can community-based tourism help preserve the culture of the Yine Amazon People and conserve the lush rainforest? In Peru's Manu Biosphere Reserve, which boasts literally the world's highest biodiversity, The Yine Project (www.pantiacolla.com/yine) attempts to answer that question.

Initiated by Dutch biologist Peruvian resident Marianne van Vlaardingen - owner of Pantiacolla Tours - The Yine Project is a joint venture between the Yine and Pantiacolla. Tourists are brought into the community to learn about the Yine culture, and the Yine benefit economically. Will they use the money to preserve their culture and rainforest? Will it bring a greater appreciation for these things among the people, who have not been living in the depths of the rainforest for a few generations? Or will internal divisions drive the project apart?

Here are some photos of my trip to the remote Yine community of Diamante on the Alto Madre de Dios River. The beautiful children touched my heart. They are its future.

Nora's son, sitting by the pots and purses she crafted. The purses are made with natural fiber and then painted with traditional Yine black-and-red designs, most of which represent animals. The pots are made using natural clays and painted with rainforest plant materials.

Nora's son.

One of the things done on the Yine Tour is to paint traditional designs on cloth. Berta paints, and I mirror her drawings. I selected the design painted when they went to war. Her children and grandchildren and mother look on. Later, Berta painted warrior images with Huito, a rainforest plant, on my arm. Daline and I were guerreras de Amazonica! Warrior women! Similar to henna, the design stays for several days.

I believe this is Berta's grandchild. He is absolutely precious. Another of Berta's grandchildren sleeps while we paint.

While we were painting, Berta's daughter calmly announced there was a snake in their house, which her son got out and showed us. It is a young bushmaster, one of the most venomous snakes in South America!

A bracelet painted by Irma, on Daline's wrist.

When I went to the school window, all the children came running up to it and wanted their photos taken! Daline and Claudia were already inside sitting at a desk.

Everyone poked their face through the window to get their photo taken!

Daisy and another Yine child at recess. Daisy was very shy.

All the Yine children loved to get their photo taken. I showed the boy in the blue shirt at the left how to use the camera on a tripod and he took several photos. A budding photographer!

Yashira and her sister, the community of Diamante's current President's children. Yashira was so confident and sweet. The first time she saw us, strangers, she walked right in and said "Buenas dias!" Later, she gave me a Yine pot that her mother had made. It was her birthday the day we visited so we sang her Happy Birthday (Feliz Campleanos) and the next day I brought her a little glass angel, which her dad said she treasured and even looked after at night. The 2nd photo is Yashira showing me how to shoot the traditional bow-and-arrow, something I was not good at at all!

Diamante's current President is nicknamed Ayacucho because that is the city where he is from. He is not from Diamante but lives there now.

Claudia drinking a bowl of masato, the traditional fermented drink of the Yine made from yuca.

One of the houses in Diamante.

Another part of the Yine Tour is to paddle along with an expert boatmen in a traditional Yine dugout canoe, made from a hollowed out tree. I'm used to kayaks and paddling in this felt very unstable, but I braved it and we made it safely without any troubles at all. With a fairly high river due to floods and a many tangles on tree trunks and branches due to a huge flood in January, I felt pretty nervous! Here we paddle in the Alto Madre de Dios River from Diamante to the Yine Lodge which is actually near the intersection between the Alto Madre de Dios and the Manu River.

Inside the commodore of the Yine Lodge, where meals are served. Note the Yine designs used around the building. If all goes as planned, the lodge will be turned over to the Yine in a few years time. However, there have been some difficulties.

The huts where visitors sleep at the Yine Lodge.

Back to Peru Photo Home

Articles | Photography | Biography | Resume

Copyright © Wendee Nicole