Amazonian adolescence, as elsewhere, is a time of awkwardness and awakening sexuality. A time when the transition from the freedom of childhood to the responsibilities of adult work can seem sad, unwanted, or depressingly difficult. Adolescents increasingly spend time alone, brooding in the forest, or along the rivers.
Some of the broad differences are that marriages were arranged at a very young age, for girls shortly after first menstruation, so that an adolescent girl might already be separated from her parents, living on a different river with her husband in his parents home. In this new environment adolescents were expected to excel at traditional gendered work-for women, manioc gardening or making chicha. For men-hunting, fishing, clearing forest for his young wife's manioc gardens.
The conflict that arises in this context between adolescent girls, boys, teen married couples and their children or parents is the subject of many stories that recount the origins of species. When the adolescents of the previous world could no longer get along they with drew from human society and were transformed into the various species we have today.
One result of this withdrawal is that the forest and rivers can be experienced as an erotic, sometimes sexually dangerous environment, where very attractive beings live behind the plant and animal forms and may suddenly appear anywhere in seductively human form.
When I was still a child I went around fishing with a hook and caught a catfish.
I caught a chunda shimi and then I caught a tanla and a white catfish. Then after I had caught 4, I threw the line out again it took the hook pulling hard like a person.
When it pulled I let go of the pole (and it was pulled into the water).
Then when I entered (the water) to get the hook out I got a bad feeling in my heart and looked toward the river.
When I looked toward the river that woman was there. That Tsumi (anaconda woman) standing with the water up to (her waist).
She was a woman with (long) hair but cut across here (with bangs in front) like a native woman. She looked like a human woman.
So then I got scared. It was an anaconda? (Yes.) An anaconda.
So I got scared. I left my hook and line there and ran toward the hill. I didn’t fall in the water. No. I didn’t fall.
How old were you?
I was about eleven then. Eleven years old.
Since I was still a child I ran when I saw her.
I ran scared and when I got to my house I stayed there. I didn't (even) go get my fish that I had caught.
So since I had come just like that without going to get my fish, when my mother came back, when they came from the garden I told her, "I did catch some fish Mamita but I left them (over there)."
"I didn't bring them because I was afraid.
There was a woman standing in the river. I saw a woman in the river and so I got scared and didn't bring them."
"Where did you see that?" my mother asked. You go around by yourself like you didn't have a Dad.
Since your Dad doesn't bother to fish you go around fishing in the deep parts of the river.
You didn't see if it was a boa or Tsumi?" she asked.
Did that woman look like an adult? Or like a young woman?
She was an adult woman.
She appeared like that in the middle of the river with half her body rising above the water (like above this table). Bare breasted? (Yes) bare. This part of her body bare. Her body was naked but she appeared like a woman like a person, that woman.
Imasna wata shina. How old did she look?
Who knows how old that anaconda was. I don't know that.
But was she young or old?
She was young. Young but she looked like an adult. Like about thirty years old.
She must have been (about that old) because her face appeared like an adult woman there in the middle of the river.
I saw from close by what she looked like there in the middle of the river.
That river was like this one. The water went up against the cliffs just like this one.
Her hair was like this. It was cut here (across like bangs) but when she came out of the water her hair was (long) like this.
Her hair was wet like this but she did not have the thickness of a human woman.
I got scared and ran because there was no one there in Morete Cocha.
They call the place where I saw her "Morete." And that night as I slept she came to me in a dream singing.
Pay muskuchira cantasha, chasna cantasha ñuka kanda apangaraurani nira. And in the song she sang, "I am going to take you."
"As I was about to take you, you caught on and ran scared," she said. "Since you ran away I was left sad," she told me.
(She was going to take you) for her son?
Since she had a son the Tsumi woman wanted to do that.
That is how she sang in my dream. She sang her complete song.
Did she sing? (Yes.) She sang. In your dream?
She sang in my dream. That woman was like a human woman but she said “I am Tsumi (anaconda) woman."
I am the woman from the East who comes upriver searching for the deep pools.
From the mouth of the Marañon
I am the woman who comes from the East.
I come resting in the deep pools.
It is I.
I may not be a human woman
I go following and following them
I am not a human woman
It is I.
I am the Tsumi (anaconda) woman
//I am the woman who lies at the base of the deep pools//
On the high cliffs
I am the woman who lies (sunning) on the high cliffs (of the river bank).
When noon comes I am the woman who lies there.
I am the woman who comes traveling upriver from the mouth of the Marañon.
I am not a woman from around here.
I am not a human woman.
And I, and I... I am an anaconda woman
Yes, I am.
Yes, and who can scare me?
Since they are (all) afraid of deep pools.
I am just the woman who wants to go taking the child that she desires.
It is just this that I am planning.
The child that they take such good care of
That they have, that they have in their care.
Just one child ///a girl child is all I want///
I have only one son, a good boy. My son is handsome and single.
I will take the girl that I choose to give to him.
I will give her to him when she grows
I will give her to him when she grows up
I would leave her If she were not so good-hearted.
(In that case) I would not take that child.
Yes, that child is going to die.
It is just the girl whom I am thinking of who is going to die.
That is the song I have sung for you to hear.