If you want to see an indian comunity, a real one, then you must forget about 3 wonderfull exciting days in Canaima, in the hotel, besides the lagoon; make contact with the local experts; prepare for adventure and getting deep into the jungle. I've never done this. Never will. Im certanly not the Indiana Jane type.
It is not a confortable journey or stay, but there are some people that love this kind of experience. Specially because venezuelan indians are not fierce at all. On the contrary...
In the picture there is a shabono (some people say "shapono") of the Yanomami indians. If you enlarge the picture you will be able to see tiny people... because the shabono is big. It is not a tipee from the north american indians, or an igloo from the skimos, in which one single family lives with total privacy. In our shabonos a very large group of indians, a comunity, lives there. No walls. Just wooden poles and a leaves roof. From one pole to the other hamocs are hung...and that is the division in between one family group and their next-hamoc neighbors.
A very tallented venezuelan architect, Fruto Vivas, spent some days in one of this shabonos studying its structure and the way of living-interacting of the indians with their simple construction.
He asked-suggested to one of the indians who spoke spanish:
Why does it has to be round? Why dont you built a sort of corridor and make another "room" at the end of the "hall".
The very wise answer: "Because we dont need it".
I've learned a lot thanks to this comment.
In the jungle there are plenty of animals that, believe it or not, could make great and loving friends and pets (even though they might look threatening).
First of all you have to go to the jungle with someone that knows his way around... and you have to trust this person.
In the picture I'm with Pastor, an speciallist in venezuelan animals. Im carriying a fat, sweet, heavy snake (who had eaten a hamster about an hour before). This is not a tree-snake ("arbórea"), is a river, shore, stone, snake. They are calm and relax. You can carry them and they just lay cozzy and relaxed over you. After I carried a similar looking one, but it was an "arbórea". That one I didnt like. It is an active, moving snake, that is used to twist around the tree branches and hold on tight. The "abórea" one twisted around my neck and I felt like chocking. Pastor took it away from me inmediately.
In the picture there is a sweet "araña mona" (monkey spider = tarántula). I didnt touch it. I didnt like any of her hairy 8 legs and hairy stomach.
Ant then is this beautiful eagle, trained by Pastor, and fed with big chunks of fresh meat.
If you dont find an animal expert and you see a snake, if its mouth is round or square shaped, that means it is not dangerous. But if it is triangular shaped... RUNNNN!!! And if it is way too collored... RUNNN!!! And if it is bigger than you... KEEP RUNNING!!!
Canaima and its surroundings is a PERFECT location for making films (see the begining of Spielberg "Aracnofobia"); love scenes for venezuelan soap operas; and profesional photos either for callendars or publicity or national and international top fashion magazines.
My dearest friend and neighbor, venezuelan and world known photographer Fran Beaufrand, has gone several times to Canaima, with his crew and a dozen of beautiful models to take pictures.
If you are really lucky, you'll get to see him working and, the models, standing still for hours and hours and hours.