Peru Stories

the workshop story YANESHA

19 October 2016
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Read in: French

November the 23rd 2015:

« We are driving to the Amazon community. I’m anxious but excited. I’m worried I haven’t spent enough time preparing my project with all this accumulated stress and tiredness ».

I’ve been dreaming about this project in the Amazon for years. It was, for me, the ultimate experience and a strong personal challenge. When I realized it was about to happen, I was thrilled by an inexhaustible energy. Everything started in France, when I met Annie Erens, founder of Sol’Yanesha. This association aims at protecting the environment and the culture of the native folk living in Peruvian Amazon, the Yaneshas. Annie introduced me to the traditional pattern of the Yanesha community and something in my head clicked. I could see myself working with these amazing people.

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We organized the Peruvian trip together starting right after my adventure in Guatemala, leaving me a few days break to go back to Paris at the end of October and prepare my new Peruvian workshop. Then the terrible events of November the 13rd happened, around the area that I live. 6 days later, I was supposed to leave France to Lima, leaving all my friends behind. I left Paris with a heavy heart but happy thinking about the experience I was about to live.

2 days after I landed in Lima, I start my bus/pick-up/tuc-tuc journey to Amazon with Annie which lasted 15 hours. Damp-proof boots on, super K-way on my shoulders (sexy…) I was finally discovering Loma Linda and the Yaneshas.
I spent the first night with one of the families of the village, with the sound of the jungle, nocturnal animals and birds for lullaby. We started the first working day on the next morning. Here the air is very, very hot and humid early in the morning and we were craving for a shower. You won’t find such a thing in the jungle, though. Actually, the custom is to take baths in the river, which unluckily was transforming in to a gigantic mud bed after a recent storm. But the show must go on and we started to work.

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We spent the all the first morning meeting the Yanesha people and the artisans. First step, painting. The Yanesha artisans are used to painting on cotton canvas that is a really different fabric from the transparent organza that I brought with me. So, they needed to practice. They use small wooden sticks soaked in the paint. For my organza, they found special bakery tools in the closest town.

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My favorite moment: the ironing of the fabric before the sewing…memorable! We brought an ironing board and an iron from our place Lima. We just forgot a tiny detail, electricity… Does’t exist over here! Fortunately, the family we were living with owned a gasoline engine lawnmower, used to get electricity on special occasions. So we ironed the fabrics with the very loud lawnmower under the amazed looks of the artisans discovering for the first time, the magic of ironing. Gazoline being very precious, only one ironing session was possible. That gave us the opportunity to find a technique to flatten the fabric, carefully tightened on large wooden sticks, transportable on our shoulders from one place to another.

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A very very warm thanks to the artisans, Annie, Jenny, Rocca, Valbina…everyone who did this amazing project real !! We did it !!

 

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