National Geographic : 1964 May
Innocent of Clothing, Motherless Sister and Little Brother Rest No partitions hide hammocks inside a maloca, a hut that many people may share. Five families-the men all blood relatives-occupied the one room dwelling where Mr. and Mrs. Schultz stayed. Despite the lack of privacy, friendli ness and harmony prevailed. Children usually sleep with their mothers until they grow too large; then they get ham mocks of their own. Bache lors keep a night fire blazing to drive away the chill. When grown, this boy will stand little more than five feet tall. He faces an average life span of only 25 years. Few Erigbaagtsa reach the age of 60, says Mr. Schultz. nibble, it is struck by an arrow. The hunters then leap in and seize their prizes. More often the Indians fish in the gloom of the forest, in water holes that are about to dry up. These holes, connected with the river by ditches, are populated by fish during the rainy season. After the rains end, some of the fish do not retreat promptly enough. Fish Caught in Baskets The women wade into the deep mud, drag ging small baskets through the murky water to catch small fish. They pitch the fish shore ward in a high arc. Naked little girls collect them and crack the spines with their teeth to kill them (page 742). Another quick bite just below the gills, and with one motion the in nards are ripped out and discarded. 756 Then the fish are wrapped in green banana leaves and placed in hot ashes. In a short while they are cooked. Para, an expert hunter and fisherman, fre quently supplies us and our Indian friends with game and fish. We accompany him to the mouth of a small tributary, where small river turtles abound. Slowly our boat circles. Para stands in the bow, wearing only trunks and seemingly indifferent to insect bites. A turtle pokes its head above the surface for air and immediately disappears again. Para leaps long and dives deep, staying 20 or 30 seconds under water. Then he emerges, laughing, holding an overturned turtle in the palm of his hand. We catch several for our table. Roasted in their shells, they are a great delicacy.