Canoes…the lifelines of the rainforest.
Boats are a very necessary part of river life. Canoes are particularly important to rainforest life. With no roads in most areas of the forest, canoes are the only way to get around.
Usually built by the communities or individuals, each canoe will be a one-off.
Large and evergreen Hymenaea trees produce a dense hardwood which is often the wood of choice for indigenous canoe makers. The Jatoba/Hymenaea tree is called in Brazil the Brazilian Cherry or Brazilian copal.
Whole families pile on to these small canoes to get around. There is a family group of nine in this photo, but I’ve seen even more people in a small canoe. The water reaches the sides and splashes in, but is met with indifference by the passengers. Used to the river and its possible dangers they appear to have no fear of sinking, but as a precautionary measure litre bottles of soft drinks are cut in half and used as bailers to ensure the canoes aren’t completely flooded. They are an essential item in a canoe.
Often too, small children can be seen on the rivers alone in canoes, expert oarsmen at a very young age. Sent off to run errands or fish for the families supper, their use of the canoe is second nature.
Oars are still a popular way of propelling the canoe through the water, but small engines are becoming a desirable way of moving the canoe, particularly by the young.
These little engines, called tuc tucs because of the sound they make, are very noisy. The sound reverberates throughout the forest….they remind me of those awful little motorbikes that can be heard on English roads, driven by young men at full speed and full volume without regard for anyone else.
Oars are silent, they move the canoe through the water as if it was a creature of the forest. They fit, but then that is a romantic view to take. The reality of life in the forest, for the people who live on river banks, is quickening as they embrace western values and engines are a necessary part of that need for more speed.
Thanks to Argentumvulgaris for info on ‘tuc tucs’.