National Geographic : 1983 Jan
read and write French, which is the official school language. They are bright and eager to learn new things, but some subjects con tradict what they have been taught at home. Arithmetic is a good example. In the Wayana language, numbers run only from one to ten, and anything above that is simply 'many.' Saving and planning ahead are also strange concepts to the Wayanas-who knows if there will be a tomorrow?" A Yolok Keeps Husband Home In addition to his teaching duties Jean Paul occasionally serves as the local doctor. On my second morning at the school a teenage boy named Tuwa rushed in and ex claimed: "Jean-Paul, my mother is about to die-she even stopped breathing!" Grabbing his small medical kit, Jean Paul called his wife, Francoise, and we fol lowed Tuwa to his house. There indeed we found his mother, lying pale and motionless in her hammock, while her weeping hus band held her hand. All was confusion, with neighbors shout ing, children crying, and headman Twanke adding to the din by firing off a shotgun into the air. After a brief examination Jean-Paul as sured everyone that Tuwa's mother would be all right. Turning to me, he said quietly: "She has only a little fever, and her pulse is normal. It's really psychosomatic. Her hus band has been running around with other women too much lately, and she's making a scene to get his attention." In their usual state of undress, young boys kick a ball in a downpour. Playtime still includes practicewith bows and arrows, but adults now hunt mostly with shotguns obtainedfrom the governments or bought with wages earned as guides on scientific expeditions into the bush. What Futurefor the Wayanas?