CENTER FOR LEARNING ALLIANCE:
Andes and Amazon Field School
Shayarina Amazonian Resilience
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.