AUGUST 5th, 1989

Camped somewhere at the base of the Fitzcarrald Pass. Today we ditched the boat when we couldn't pull or lift it any further upstream.We took the motor off, wrapped it in plastic, then buried it. We then covered the boat in branches and leaves, just in case someone should come along and decide to take it. Then Jose and I set off after our two Yura guides, each of us carrying a heavy pack and wearing shorts and tile sandals (ojotas) so that we can wade through the water. The Yura have less to carry, just their bows and arrows, a small sack slung over their shoulders, and a machete. There's lots of fish here and the Yura have an amazing ability to strike fish with the machete, quickly assembling a quantity of fish with a line strung through the fishes' gills and carrying it behind them in the water.

Lot of howler monkeys this morning, and a glimpse of spider monkeys as well -- what the Yura like most to eat. Came across an old "rubber camp" today as we were making shortcuts between this winding tributary. You could tell that the area was second growth forest, and we found an avocado tree --obviously imported -- banana trees too, and even a red brick that had "Fabrique en France" imprinted on it (brought here all the way from France!). This is part of the path that the Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald blazed in 1897, when he dragged a steamship -- the first steamship to descend the Manu River -- near here over the pass, killing Indians in the Manu as he went.

This morning, the chief showed me where the first group of Yura made contact with a group of woodcutters on the upper Mishagua. The Yura had first raided a woodcutter camp that was deserted because the woodcutters were off cutting wood. After setting fire to the camp and stealing radios and other supplies, the four Yura fled. Two days later, the woodcutters found them at dawn, sleeping on a beach, and fired a shotgun at them. The Yura leapt up and dashed off into the forest, leaving their bows and arrows and everything else behind. A day later, hungry and weaponless, one of the Yura surprisingly hailed the woodcutter boat, and peaceful contact, for the first time in at least 80 years, was made. The Yura were given gifts and taken to the nearest town, the mission town of Sepahua at the junction of the Urubamba and Mishagua Rivers. According to what the Yura told me, they thought that they had been taken to the land of the dead; their idea of where they go when they die is a place where people have lighter skins and where there are all kinds of strange smells -- smells like the fumes from the boats in the area. They thought that they, too, were dead, and would never return to their villages. Sad to say, they would soon return, and take a lot of death with them.

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