Letters from a traveller | #9

The Xingu, the Mehinaku and I
January 20, 2020

What about the love I feel? How to interpret the sensations that resolved not to take vacations and walk paths so different from those of most? I let them flow, run loose. I do so many things that I see and what I feel, I really wanted them all topenetrate others through the pores, go beyond beauty and fill their souls with emotions.  

With each journey I make I become humbler, I perceive the differences by new angles, re-icant to look, understand meanings through the place of the other. Life without judgment is free, it is light.  They are not only different languages and colors, they are stories, customs, experiences, adverts and joys, gravadas in the bones, written on the skin, running through the blood. It is necessary to undress the soul of prejudice, receive allstimuli,  deconstruct   in order to be able to rebuild with new meaning, adding the before and after, mine and that of the other.

Summing up, there's something that seems simple, but needs to be done carefully so that identities don't get lost or found. The sum should not subtractanyone. I know it sounds strange to talk like that, but if we stop to think how many times when we add up, we only see the total and forget the parts?


Kaupüna Village, December 2019.


After more than eight hours driving we arrived at Kaupüna Village. A movie set was waiting for us. The village had recently moved and there was no time to make the sapé covers... hollows lined with white canvas awaited us during a decampado in the Upper Xingu.

Suspicious and smiling looks watched us and I imagine that our eyes were also like this, in a mixture of joy and surprise, a feeling that I believe always affects us when we face the new.

Presentations made, networks extended in the hollow, we went to the center of the village accompaniedthe donations we had taken. The hollows were gradually emptying, everyone  was heading for us. It is beautiful to  perceive in the village the importance of the whole for the parts and of the parts for the whole. Whenever there is  something significant,such as receiving a donation for example, everyone participates  to understand its value and importance. Transparency, respect, trust. It was also these words that came to my mind during the cously, a time of traditional exchange in the region's indigenousculture, which for me was enthralling.

There, in the Upper Xingu, lying in the hammock inside the hollow, listening to the conversations about the football game that would take place the next day, I tried to imagine the life of each one in the now, the before, the before, when the contact with the "foreigner" did not yet exist, I regressed to the time when not even the Europeans knew for sure what existed and how those who inhabited the other side of the ocean lived.

How long has passed, how much has changed, influenced, and been influenced, knocked down fences and built walls, in a constant attempt to delimit our space and maintain our identity. Being there is like witnessing an important moment in history books, when one civilization finds another and it is necessary to blend in, but it is not known exactly how or how much this change will affect the reality to which one was accustomed. When we do this retrospective it does not seem easy to arrive in a village (or any other place that still manages to preserve itself a little away from the madness of today's world) and say how it would be better to do this or that, what is the best way to adapt the news that arrives non-stop. Who are we to  judge how indigenous people react and  absorb the  new? How do youwant to getfrom them a posture of someone who knows what to do in the face of the unexpected if wedidn't  even know the risks we were taking with the internet boom? Are they replacing the moments around the campfire where there was storytelling and knowledge transmission for moments in front of the television, but didn't we also miss the family Sunday lunches for cell screens? Maybe we can show you how after a few years we miss more human contact, eye-to-eye conversations, real smiles and tears, hand touches, maybe not... After all, who here as a child listened to their parents before doing some gutting and learning in the marra that it wasn't that good?

Anyway, I spent a week immersed in another reality, but where, I'm not sure how, I felt at home.

About the author

Yankatu - Design + Art with Brazilian soul

Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros Penteado

Add a comment