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TitleFlorinda Donner Grau: 01 Shabono
File Size939.8 KB
Total Pages186
Table of Contents
A Visit to a Remote and Magical World in the South American Rainforest
	Principal Iticoteri 
	Chapter 3
	Chapter 4
	Chapter 5
	Chapter 6
	Chapter 7
	Chapter 8
	Chapter 9
	Chapter 10
	Chapter 11
	Chapter 12
	Chapter 13
	Chapter 14
	Chapter 15
	Chapter 16
	Chapter 17
	Chapter 18
	Chapter 19
	Chapter 20
	Chapter 21
	Chapter 22
	Chapter 23
	Chapter 24
	Chapter 25
Document Text Contents
Page 93

"You must know some," the headman insisted. "I've heard stories of how much the whites
like to sing. They even have boxes that sing."

In the third grade in Caracas I had been told by the music teacher that besides having a
dreadful voice I was also tone deaf. However, Professor Hans, as he expected to be
addressed, was not insensitive to my desire to sing. He allowed me to remain in the class
provided I stayed in the last row and sang very softly. Professor Hans did not bother much
with the required religious and folk songs we were supposed to be learning, but taught us
Argentinian tangos from the thirties. I had not forgotten those songs.

Looking at the expectant faces around me, I stepped closer to the fire. I cleared my throat
and began to sing, oblivious to the jarring notes escaping my throat. For a moment I felt I
was faithfully reproducing the passionate manner in which Professor Hans had sung his
tangos. I clutched my hands to my breast, I closed my eyes as if transported with the
sadness and tragedy of each line.

My audience was spellbound. The Mocototeri and Iticoteri had come out of their huts to
watch my every gesture.

The headman stared at me for a long time, then finally said, "Our women cannot learn to
sing in this strange manner."

The men sang next. Each singer stood alone in the middle of the clearing, both hands
resting high on his upright bow. Sometimes a friend accompanied the performer: Then the
singer rested his arm over his companion's shoulder. One song in particular, sung by a
Mocototeri youth, was the favorite of the night.

When a monkey jumps from tree to tree

I shoot it with my arrow.

Only green leaves drop down.

Swirling around, they gather at my feet.

The Iticoteri men did not lie down in their hammocks but talked and sang with their hosts
throughout the night. I slept with the women and children in the empty huts around the
main entrance of the shabono.

In the morning I stuffed myself with the papayas and pineapples one of the Mocototeri girls
had brought for me from her father's garden. Ritimi and I had discovered them earlier on
our way into the bush. She had advised me not to ask for the fruit- not because it was not

Page 94

proper, but because the fruit was unripe. But I did not mind their sour taste or even the
slight stomachache that followed. I had not eaten familiar fruits for months. Bananas and
palm fruit were like vegetables to me.

"You had a wretched voice when you sang," a young man said, squatting next to me.
"Ohoo, I didn't understand your song, but it sounded hideous."

Speechless, I glared at him. I did not know whether to laugh or insult him in turn.

Putting her arms around my neck, Ritimi burst into laughter. She looked at me askance,
then whispered in my ear, "When you sang I thought the monkey meat had given you a

Squatting on the same spot in the clearing where they had started out last night, a group of
Iticoteri and Mocototeri men were still talking in the formal, ritualized manner proper to the
wayamou. Bartering was a slow, involved affair during which equal importance was given
to the items for trading and the exchange of information and gossip.

Close to noon, some Mocototeri women began criticizing their husbands for the items they
had exchanged, stating that they needed the machetes, aluminum pots, and cotton
hammocks themselves. "Poisoned arrowheads," one of the women shouted angrily. "You
could make them yourself if you weren't so lazy." Without paying the slightest attention to
the women's remarks, the men continued their hagglings.

Chapter 13

It was past noon when we left the Mocototeri settlement, our baskets filled with the
accustomed plantains, palm fruits, and meat given to departing guests.

Shortly before nightfall, three Mocototeri men caught up with us. One of them raised his
bow as he spoke. "Our headman wants the white girl to stay with us." He stared at me down
the shaft of his drawn arrow.

"Only a coward points his arrow at a woman," Iramamowe said, stepping in front of me.
"Why don't you shoot, you useless Mocototeri?"

"We haven't come to fight," the man remarked, returning his bow and arrow to an upright
position. "We could have ambushed you some time ago. All we want is to frighten the white
girl so she'll come with us."

"She cannot stay with you," Iramamowe said. "Milagros brought her to our shabono. If he
had wanted her to stay with you, he would have taken her to your settlement."

"We want her to come with us," the man persisted. "We will bring her back before the rains

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