Taylah: No one was harmed in the making of this performance

monkey taunting the cat
the monkey taunting the cat

Jaragua… a small haven, encroached on by the outskirts of Sao Paulo city. It is a community of the Guarani and the smallest demarcated indigenous land in brazil. With such an urban presence it is amazing how they still hold true to their traditions, amazingly still 500 years later. We saw this in effect by them no longer having a hierarchy like the colonisers historically demanded, as they did in New Zealand also. They showed us a pre-war performance that was once used to ensure they were combat ready and agile enough for everyday life in the Atlantic forest. However, now it is to remind them of where they have come from and to keep fighting for their community although no longer physically.

This performance was definitely a highlight of the day, as 3 males were put through agility tests. This was done by one male swinging either at them or in the air, with a stick and the 3 having to pass by unscathed. The first male, obviously in his prime, did so with no hesitation or sweat. The second, passed his prime, did so with more effort and struggle. The third and more relatable was the youngest, not at his prime yet and he showed his fear and struggled to complete the tasks. It was funny seeing him been yell at to hurry up and him look up to the sky as if praying to a god to save him and to not let him get hurt. It even got to the point where he blatantly didn’t care and started to cheat, holding the others arm to ensure he didn’t swing down fast. At the end when the males essentially finished by ‘bowing out’ in their way, by bending their knees three times then saying a chant, the male got ready… swung back his stick as if he was playing baseball and… swung at their legs. The first jumped without caution or worry, the second after his 3 ‘bows’ took a cautious breath and after a moment when he was ready said his chant and jumped, the third… well… after 2 ‘bows’ looked terrified and quite frankly over it then ran the opposite way. The male with the stick jokingly ran after him pretending to swing. I can ensure that this was not with the intent of hurting anyone and that it was all in good nature and no one were harmed in the making of this performance.

The most shocking thing about the entire day, which wasn’t the mock attacks, and my favorite part, was the site of Capuchin monkeys! In mostly undeveloped land with a ginormous city of 12 million people at its doorstep and here these wild animals are, still here surviving. It was amazing to see one of the men feed one of these wild monkeys some sweet potato (which was very similar to kumara). I also got super close! you could see the monkey looking at me like “why is this white lady ‘pst pst’ing as me like I’m a cat?”. Safe to say if i could have i would have pet it and wouldn’t regret if i got rabbies. It was just a reminder of how this area is not only a safe haven for the indigenous Guarani but also the animals, to live almost the same way for 500 years and a inspiration to me due to my passion for conservation. I hope they continue for another 500 years resisting urban development and the pressure from others to leave, to preserve their incredible way of life.

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