National Geographic : 2017 Dec
jaguars 81 has 14 children, ages 13 to 30. Some are now working at Mayantuyacu. He grew up in the tiny village of Santa Rosa, 10 miles east of the Boiling River, the son of a curandero. On a day his father happened to go out without his tobacco pipe and the protection of the master tobacco spirit, he was killed by a falling tree. Juan was 10 then, but was able to continue his education when a curandero from the Ashanin- ka tribe accepted him as an apprentice. He went on to study with healers from many tribes and backgrounds. He founded Mayantuyacu after a brush with death when he stumbled into a hunter’s trap and a blast from a rigged shotgun injured his legs, shattering a tibia. By the time he was carried to a hospital, he’d lost so much blood the doctors thought he might not live. They were sure he’d never walk without crutches. A nurse suggested that a great curandero ought to be able to heal himself. So a week af- ter the accident he took up his crutches and made the arduous pilgrimage up the Pachitea River and through the forest until he found a Came Renaco tree angled precariously over the Boiling River, its branches shrouded in steam. From the tree, he prepared bone-strengthening treatments. In a matter of months, he had the full use of his legs. Soon afterward, he married the nurse who had challenged him, and togeth- er they founded Mayantuyacu near the Came Renaco tree. But now, more than two decades later, the health of the whole region around him is in de- cline. Much of the surrounding forest has been logged or burned off for cattle. The horizon is frequently flagged with plumes of black smoke.