The Kickstarter Campaign that has treated me so wonderfully thus far is ending in just 26 hours (Monday Morning, February 27th, 2012). This is your last chance to donate to my artistic and humanitarian cause.
I am beyond grateful for the support of my backers. It has been quite a humbling experience to receive so much love and interest from my various networks. This is going to be a wonderful year (or more) of film making!
We made it. Two days later we arrived at Rafas home. Rafa, the son of a chief (Mamu) let my two friends and I into his territory to work the land and learn about the beautiful culture that he maintains. The culture is virtually untouched by modern (not just Western) ideas, technologies and influences.
Homes are typically made out of Bambu (chopped by hand, measured by eye), palm leaves, string from animal hide, and a level(ish) dirt floor.
The tribes of the Sierra Nevadas have a wonderful fresh water source from the various rivers and streams that carve their way down the mountain from the snow caps above.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Home to multiple indigenous tribes that are very territorial (for good reason) and protectively maintaining their original cultures. Somehow, some way, I was granted access to pass through these areas and work with a very special family.
We headed up the mountain with offerings of food, shells, sweets, machetes and shovels. Each indigenous person we passed we offered him or her something.
We left the mountains with empty packs and changed perspectives.
We hiked 2 days up through a handful off various micro-climates.
This is my German friend Larissa. She and Ana hitch-hiked a boat from Spain, across the atlantic, through the Caribbean, and 3 months later they turned up in Colombia!
Rafa cut down and carved out everything on his land with only his Machete. He was a master with that thing. I got decently skilled at it by the end of the week, but I lack a lifetime of practice.
My first day up the mountain, I was tired, put down my bag and sighed a sigh of relief. Immediately 3 members of the tribe tossed me a machete and said “Come on! Let’s go clear a field!”
I pulled myself up off the ground and followed them to a steep mountainside blanketed in nothing but Jungle. It didn’t look like a field to me.
We chopped every tree down and cleared all the brush from that mountainside. They taught me how to cut down a tree with one swipe. By the top, my hands were a bloody pulp. I had to keep working. I was the first person to ever be let into their community to work. I couldn’t let my fellow gringos’ reputation down.
A Kogui home. The other, larger indigenous tribe that lived across the river from the Haruaco (who I worked with). The Haruaco has roughly 3,000 people. The Kogui is much larger.
The pigs grew on me. They are filthy, loud and sometimes appalling creatures, but they had a comforting energy about them. I loved watching how they interact with each other, especially when one found a fresh yuka root.
My work mainly consisted of picking and digging. I was working on leveling out a hillside so Rafa could build a new hut there for visitors. My hands were bleeding and my back was shot by the end of each day.
All the indigenous men wore wellies like these. They proved far superior to my hiking shoes on the steep terrain when Rafa and I were harvesting Yuka and Yams.
The kitchen was such a special place. A place of silence. A place of observance andthanks. We ate 100% organic food, and the same meal 3 times a day. Rice, a type of beans, yuka (similar to sweet potatoes), and yams. It was delicious, but sometimes redundant. Food to the Haruacos was less of a treat, or an artform, but rather a form of fuel. They ate fast, didn’t talk much, and continued working shortly after.
Ana. My new friend. She has been traveling/working for 2.5 years and is on her second trip around the globe. She’s a great photographer too!
Getting dirty. Haven’t seen a razor for a few weeks. Or a bathroom for that matter.
Isiah. My little buddy. The only indigenous person that let me take their photo. He claimed to be 3 years old and was learning Spanish by the second. He worked by my side for hours at a time when he could keep his focus.
“If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
My departing gift for Rafa.
Serenading my friends, with my guitar.