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Amazon Memory - 2013. Learning how to prepare a Yanomami tobacco wad

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Sharing laughs and spoofs with my brother, Ricky


This is YouTube video above is an unedited clip of me learning how to prepare a tobacco wad with my brother. At first, I envisioned this to be a how-to video. I thought at the time I could do a little "day in the life of a Yanomami" twist to me filming. Of course, as the village caught wind of what I was doing, they all wanted to watch me clumsily prepare a tobacco wad. I had only done this a couple times before and each time left the village roaring with laughter. They found it so damn funny how I would improperly fold a leaf, mix in too much ash, mix in too little ash. Laughter is contagious. I didn't take offense to their jester. I love it so I joined in and laughed.


Watching this moment now, in 2020, amazes me how time flies. I can't believe this video clip was from 7 years ago. It warms my heart and reminds me of how lucky and blessed I am to enjoy my time in the Amazon with my brethren and family. It just makes my experience so much more special and everlasting. What makes me smile is how my brother is managing the camera I had let him borrow. He was fascinated with pictures. He love the camera and I remember when he ventured out for the day to take photographs of whatever he thought was interesting. He actually came back with some decent shots. Here is one his photos below:




It was a bit of a learning curve for him. With his enthusiasm, I was excited to train him because I never had many shots of me in the Amazon. I was always behind the camera. Having an assistant photographer would have been amazing. Just when I thought he had it down, I'd ask him to take some pictures of me. Although, he still couldn't quite get the concept of framing a shot and my head would often be cut off like this one below:


Nevertheless, I admired the boy for his dedication to learn, his ambition, his energy, his optimism. He was always so excited to learn new things. He always asked me to teach him words in English. He was my best friend and my best tutor in the Amazon.


With the passing of my brother, it has been hard to look back on these memories. Maybe, that's why I didn't want to record myself today talking about the video above. But sharing it with you, these special moments, means a lot to me and I know my brother wanted so much to come to the US to meet my "people" here and share his life and stories. I truly think he would've made a wonderful filmographer.


RIP - Ricky



To learn more about the Good Project and support its work with the Yanomami visit www.jointhegoodproject.org

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