Anteojo Foto de Robert Max Steenkist

Publicado en mayo 2014 | Foto de Robert Max Steenkist

61

En el país de “la gente del agua”

El periodista Robert Max Steenkist junto a un grupo de expedicionarios exploran el río Vaupés en el sureste colombiano para conocer a los indígenas wanano.

Durante cinco días un grupo de nueve expedicionarios bogotanos remontamos el río Vaupés hasta la población de Taina en el sureste colombiano para compartir tiempo y actividades con los indígenas wananos o guananos.

Los indígenas wanano son una comunidad de aproximadamente 1.000 habitantes dispersos en poblados como Santa Cruz, Villa Fátima, Macucú, Naná, Yapita y Carurú, a lo largo de la frontera del departamento del Vaupés con Brasil.

Se llaman a sí mismos “Gente del agua”. Su vida gira en torno al río. Son expertos en pesca, que ejecutan usando los cacurís, o trampas para peces que instalan en las cachiberas o los raudales. Viajan preferiblemente en canoas por el sinfín de rutas acuíferas que existen en la zona del Vaupés. Creen que sus antepasados míticos subieron por el río Vaupés en la Canoa Ancestral (también conocida como Pahmoni Busoca) o Canoa Anaconda (Pinoso Busoca) hasta el raudal de Santa Cruz, en donde nosotros comenzamos nuestro recorrido.

Las canoas siguen siendo el principal método de transporte en el Vaupés / Busoca hiro andita ho andita nasone harmare Vaupes. / Robert Max Steenkist

Los primeros humanos que llegaron a Santa Cruz tallaron jeroglíficos en la roca, que aún pueden verse hoy. Ninguno de nuestros acompañantes pudo decirnos con certeza qué noticias traían estos enigmáticos dibujos desde la espesura del pasado.

Los ríos y la memoria / Diare há wacuati / Robert Max Steenkist

Para los wananos existen tres verdades eternas: el agua, la roca y el humo. La primera de ellas es la más potente, cruel y generosa de las tres. El río, como casa de ésta, es la entidad que los protege, los limpia, le otorga la movilidad y el alimento. También se presenta como un poder sin misericordia cuando el invierno llega o cuando se comete alguna imprudencia sobre un raudal.

Al contrario de muchas etnias, los wanano no se consideran superiores a otras etnias o grupos de humanos. Saben, por ejemplo, que la Gente de la Roca (Taa Masa) fue creada por el trueno mucho antes de que ellos estuvieran en los planes de la creación. Por eso, tal vez, preservan un tono respetuoso en la relación que tejen con cerros como el Yavaraté.

Siempre hay un cerro más alto / Padu testua mera yududu hica / Robert Max Steenkist

Los wanano tampoco están de acuerdo con aquellos que creen que a este mundo se viene a sufrir. Motivos para celebrar abundan en el Vaupés: la finalización de la construcción de una maloca, la llegada de algún esperado, la tirada de una nueva canoa al agua, la recolección de una cosecha, una pesca abundante. Para cada acontecimiento se preparan litros de chicha (elaborada de yuca dulce) para todos los adultos. Se ofrece quiñapira (una especie de hogao con pescado, ají, hojas de carurú e incluso hormigas manibara) y casabe, el cual puede ser a base de yuca exprimida en matafrío, en forma de torta, con almidón (ideal para viajes, pues se preserva largo tiempo), entre otros. Ese banquete se acompaña con yaquitaña (ají en polvo) y fariña (gránulos de yuca). La abundancia de platos varía de acuerdo a las temporadas de pesca o caza, pero, sin importar la época del año, los guananos tienen antídotos en contra del cansancio y el hambre del viajero.

Las mujeres y los niños también gozan / Munia hayoo macaraca cu wachera / Robert Max Steenkist

“En raras ocasiones organizamos homenajes a nuestros visitantes”, asegura Gustavo, el capitán de Taina, la comunidad más apartada que visitamos. Un mambucury es una celebración en homenaje a alguien que llega de visita.

La flauta y la corona se ponen en las celebraciones / Turiro hayoa carrizo busenumurire putire / Robert Max Steenkist

Los techos habían sido decorados con cadenas de papeles y en dos tableros de la Maloca, los habitantes de Taina nos daban la bienvenida: “Sean bienvenidos Tomas y sus amigos del trabajo” decía una de ellas; “Tomas y sus compañeros: que ésta no sea la última visita, síganos visitando. Gracias”.

De esta manera sencilla, transparente y sin pretensiones llegamos al momento más emocionante de nuestra expedición. Faltaría aún ascender a cerros espectaculares, en donde las guacamayas son dueñas y señoras de las alturas de piedra, y sobrepasar peligrosos ríos raudales. Quedaría mucho más por descubrir en esta región selvática y cautivante, pero el encuentro con la Gente del Agua sería sin duda la mejor puerta de entrada a la riqueza cultural y natural del Vaupés.

Robert MaxRobert Max Steenkist (Bogotá, 1982) estudió literatura en la Universidad de los Andes de Bogotá y completó una maestría en estudios editoriales en la Universidad de Leiden. Trabajó en el Centro Regional para el Fomento del Libro en América Latina y el Caribe (CERLALC/UNESCO) y fue profesor de la Universidad de los Andes. Actualmente divide su tiempo entre el Colegio José Max León, la agencia de fotografía FotoMUST, la agencia de viajes de turismo sostenible BogaTravel y la fundación Bogotham Arte y Cooperación. También trabaja para la Ópera de Colombia y el Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá. Ha publicado los libros Caja de piedras (cuentos, 2001) y Las excusas de desterrado (poesía, 2006). Su trabajo ha sido publicado en Alemania, Colombia, España, Grecia, Holanda, México, Puerto Rico, República Dominicana y Venezuela. Vive en Bogotá con su esposa Carolina y su perro Patán.



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