Guyana 1990

At the bend of the river

(Contact to the Wai-Wai Indians in Guyana)

Like arrows, the tapirs dart through the dense brush-wood, panically taking flight, and before I know it, I see the Wai-Wai Indians racing after them at full speed. With great effort I try to follow the hunters who skilfully rush through the dark green jungle in a zigzag manner. The branches keep whipping my head, and I feel twinges in my arms from all sorts of thorns. Dangling to and fro, my cameras turn out to be a handicap. Just stick to them, I think, I mustn’t lose sight of them. In spite of my good constitution, I start having problems with my physical fitness. I can hardly catch my breath. That’s when it happens: a mighty blow hits me, I feel a terrible pain in my shin, and I fall onto the sludgy ground of the rain forest without being able to hold on to anything. For a moment only, I lay there numbly, regarding my cameras covered with viscous dirt. Then, in an instant, I jump up again, but it’s already too late. The Indians have disappeared, as if swallowed by the forest…

I enjoy remembering the hunting excursions with the Wai-Wai Indians, who lived in a village at a bend of the Essequibo river. Unfortunately, they too are threatened with extinction, due to factors such as gold diggers flown in by the military, as well as men in search of diamonds who continuously disregard the borderline from Brazil to Guyana. These strangers bring along diseases which the Wai-Wai cannot fight because they lack the antibodies, they contaminate the rivers, rich in fish, with quicksilver, and so forth.

If time allows, I shall publish an account on our contact to the Wai-Wai Indians in the category “Journal Guyana Wai-Wai”.


Guyana (former British Guyana) 1990

Expedition to the borderlands between Guyana and Brazil, visiting the endangered Wai-Wai Indians. Denis Katzer lived with Guyana’s last remaining Wai-Wai Indians tribe at a river bend of the Essequibo river, and recorded their way of life on photo and film, thus preserving it for posterity.