A Trip Up the Pisorie River

By Alex Goff, International Field Coordinator

Photo: Alex Goff

Life flows like a river in the Amazon. One moment things move fast, the energy is intense, electric. The next moment there is a deep calm, time seems to stand still. I was traveling up the Pisorie River with a group of Cofán, transporting materials for rain catchment systems by canoe to the community of Ukavati. It hadn’t rained for a few days and the river was low. The canoe, heavy with materials and passengers— three men (including myself), four women, and three kids—constantly got snagged on tree trunks jutting out of the water and sand banks at low points on the river. Everyone had to climb out to help lift or haul the canoe back into deeper water. This happened many times. The kids would find a log to sit on and watch the commotion, while the adults would submerge themselves, sometimes up to their shoulders, into the water. An eleven-meter canoe is heavy and at times it took the collective strength of seven people to release the craft. Occasionally, tree trunks and branches had to be hacked away with a machete to free our vessel. Once the canoe was freed, everyone would climb back in and we would continue along the river.

A machete is used to clear the canoe's path. Photo: Alex Goff


At times it took the collective strength of seven people to free the canoe. Photo: Alex Goff

  Back on course in deeper water, following the river’s lazy bend, we would sink back in to the tranquil rhythm of the river. Time seemed to slow down. The children, reflecting this energy shift, would become silent and climb into their mothers' arms, even fall asleep. As I observed this scene, listening to the sounds of the rainforest, the water like smooth glass under the canoe’s rounded hull, I marveled at how peaceful life can be when you follow the flow of the river.