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July 1993

July 1, 1993 (Thursday)

After breakfast – egg and casabe, toast, hot chocolate – everyone went to turn the boat upside down. One and half hours work. Log weighs about a ton. On the way home saw borruga; chased it into a hole and tried to smoke it out, covering holes and igniting a termite nest stuck inside the hole. No borruga.

We cut some cargero, 1.5” – 2” thick and brought back with us. We stripped the bark, then went out to pick coca for me to bring upriver. Benilda made farina. PM made coca. Around 5:00 pm we took off in the canoe (after taking pictures). After about 25 minutes paddling we were at the Bogotano’s, taking a shortcut through the flooded forest.

Jean-Marc arrived around 7:30 and we left Bogotano’s about 8:30. There was a bright 3/4 moon to light our way. Around midnight dense fog developed and we motored through it, brightly lit by moon. Around 1:00 pm rain started and kept up until our arrival at the Varadero at 2:00 pm. We spent the rest of the night at the house there and started out across the Centro Providencia at 7:45 am.

July 3, 1993 (Saturday)

Worked with Louis Alfonso Makuna (Danta). We made lye from Yarumo leaves to cook fibers from carguero I collected at Arturo’s. Started cooking at 9:40 am. Used about 100 – 150 grams to 4 liters of water.

We also cooked a small piece of bark that Louis found along the Apaporis River. We cooked it with the carguero. After one hour and 45 minutes we took it out and it was well cooked. We pounded it gently and the fibers separated very well. We made a successful test piece. The carguero did not respond to cooking.

After lunch Danta and I went to the Apaporis to get some more of the Higueron bark. We cut a tree 3.5” – 4” in diameter, removed the bark of the entire trunk, and stripped the outer bark on site. The tree yielded 2.2 kilos of wet fiber. There was also another tree of white marima 2” in diameter which we cut and took with us.

Alberto brought us eight fish. Big sabalo.

July 4, 1993 (Sunday)

After breakfast of fish and fariña Danta and I started work with fibers of higueron tree. First we beat each strip one meter long with the dull end of a machete. We used 11 pieces, about 1/4 of what we collected (41 pieces). A lot of the meat was released by this process. I also beat a small piece of yarumo to cook with the other fibers as well as a small piece of white marima. We used maybe 100 grams wood ash with 5 liters of water and started cooking at 10:30 am.

At 12:00 noon the fibers were close to done. We let them cook till after lunch. We also made some ash from the bark of a tree that produces strong ash. When we took out the fibers at 2:30 they were pretty well done. The yarumo was still tough; the white marima was cooked as well. We beat the fiber for 40 minutes. There still seemed to be meat left. We washed it then made four pieces.

July 5, 1993 (Monday)

Louis and I started work at 7:00 am, beating the remaining pieces of bark from higueron tree. At 8:30 we went to eat breakfast. We continued after beating and then washing fibers, finishing around 12:00 pm. Used machete then wood beater.

We cooked the fibers before lunch, 1:30, using ash from bark and yarumo. Not very much ash for the quantity of fiber.

We then worked on stripping the white bark and beating it. We finished when dark fell, around 6:00, not quite finishing the white bark.

Long day, hot sun, very tired.

July 6, 1993 (Tuesday)

Started after breakfast, 8:30 am. Made more lye from 500 grams of ash dirt. Re-cooked the higueron fibers after washing them well. Then we finished beating the white marima before cooking it.

The other fibers were cooked after three hours. We then beat the fibers for about one hour before lunch. The fibers needed very thorough beating to totally separate.

We started to cook the white bark at 2:00 pm. Used a lot of ash dirt, six white cupfuls. While the white bark cooked we fixed up the site and beat the higueron fiber some more, finishing at 5:45. The white fibers seemed to be well cooked at this time and parted easily.

July 7, 1993 (Wednesday)

We started off to work at 6:30 am. The white marima was left in the cooking pot to cool overnight. It was well cooked. A broad 3” wide strip could be pulled apart with a slight effort. The few strips of bark that we left in water the night before without removing the outer bark first had partially discolored to a yellow color. The yellow fibers also seemed to be a bit tougher. We beat the fibers for three quarters of an hour.

After breakfast we continued beating white marima and took partially frozen higueron fiber and washed it several times before putting it in the vat. It was raining when we washed the pulp and we used rain water at this point. The vat was filled with creek water. After we drained the vat we had a fist-sized hunk of pulp left over, which we put in the fridge with the marima.

We made five sheets of paper, still experiencing difficulties with clumping of fibers. There were long strands of poly-felt in the mix which were grabbing a lot of fiber. In any event we made a better quality of paper today. We pressed the sheets around 1:00 pm.

July 8, 1993 (Thursday)

(Started taking penicillin for infected finger.) Day of rest. I tried to paint a little but it was difficult. Many interruptions. Danta brought me a few more samples of tree bark of large yarumo from the forest but it didn’t look too promising; the bark was very woody.

In the evening I started feeling ill. Had lower backache and headache and chills. I had chills all night and developing fever.

July 9, 1993 (Friday)

(Second day of penicillin.) Early morning my stomach felt upset. I got up to pee at 6:00 am and had dry heaves, nothing in stomach. My stool was also soft. By evening I had full blown diarrhea. I stayed in my hammock all day and ate nothing but a few crackers. Around 5:00 pm two Frenchmen showed up, one a filmmaker (Frederic Ieton); the other an anthropologist (Christian). They want to do a film on the social political relationships in the Amazon.

July 10, 1993 (Saturday)

(3rd day of penicillin.) I awoke feeling a little better but still have diarrhea. Felt weak. I worked with Leonardo making a smaller mold for papermaking. The infection in my finger was feeling better. Most of the morning was taken up making the mold. Worked on mold in pm.

July 11, 1993 (Sunday)

(4th day of penicillin.) Applied heat to the screen we glued down yesterday and it tightened very well.

We made paper today using white marima (stored in fridge). We made yalea (tororo) from the bark of Balso. The color was yellow-brownish. We mixed a fair amount in the vat with the fibers.

Using our new small mold with 2” high wall deckle we were able to make a much better paper. The fiber distribution was much better, the paper thinner. The tororo made the paper a bit more yellow. I would like to avoid this if possible. Must look for another source. We made 10 sheets of thin paper 7.5” x 11”, using 2/3 of the fiber of the 2.5” diameter tree. There were still thick strands of fiber and some clumps despite extended beating of fibers both before and after cooking. We pressed the sheets and put them to dry in the sun. We had difficulty brushing out all the air bubbles, many small ones. All but the thinnest sheets stuck well to the boards and came off nice and flat.

In the pm, I worked on fixing up the particle board box for a vat. I coated it with epoxy varnish. I think it’s a waste of time but J.M. doesn’t have wood to spare for another vat.

July 13, 1993 (Tuesday)

Travel to La Pedrera. Left C.P. at 9:30. Arrived at Miriti at 11:00; got underway by 11:30. Engine trouble part of the time. A little rain.

Evening in La Pedrera. I decided to stay in town; J.M.., Fredric and Christian went back upriver. Their boat tipped over in the chorro above La Pedrera and they drifted down past the town holding onto a capsized boat. Fredric almost drowned when they tried to swim to shore.

July 14, 1993 (Wednesday)

Louis got some fiber of yarumo _roja [I can’t read the first letter] – seven pieces of bark. Beat before cooking. Then cooked with 500 grams of ash lye. Cooked for four hours; most of the fibers responded to the cook. But the fiber on the inside (near wood) didn’t respond as well after beating one hour. All but these fibers seemed ready to make paper. We put in the fridge on 16th.

July 16, 1993 (Friday)

Got higueron from big tree one meter in diameter. Took five pieces. He beat a few pieces and left the rest as is, then cooked the fibers with 150 grams ash lye. After three hours all fiber was well cooked, even the unbeaten strips. We beat the fiber 15 minutes and it was ready. There was some fiber from near the outer bark that didn’t cook well. Yellow in color. Short thick yellow pieces.

Danta also collected another tree from Rastrojo one foot in diameter, beat it, and it separated like marima. Not cooked.

Also collected a bark from forest tree. Seems to have nice light fiber. After precook beating looks like marima. Seems to have good fiber, little meat. They say it is common.

Today we also stripped the yarumo I got from the Caquetá tree 4” in diameter, 2.5 meters long. The bark was filled with clear halea. We saved some to make paper with and beat some of the strips before cooking and added the other 2/3 without beating. We washed as much jalea as possible before cooking but not all. We started cooking at 3:35 pm.

(All are Marima)

July 17, 1993 (Saturday)

Rastrojo is mata palo.

Went with coals in ash. To get three types of bark – one in Rastrojo which Leonardo says is Strangler Fig. It was 8” in diameter. We removed four pieces of bark. The fibers were reddish after beating.

We also took 10 strips of bark from a giant Higueron near the river. We used pieces from the buttresses and roots. The broad sides of the buttresses didn’t seem to have as good a fiber; very thick and woody. The trunk seemed unsuitable as well. We also took bark form another type of marima which is more common in the woods. It has a nice very light colored fiber.

We stripped and precooked. Beat the Rastrojo and light colored barks and washed them leaving the Higueron to soak in water overnight. Danta went hunting in pm.

Cooking light colored marima. Six pieces fairly thick, 2 feet long, about 1/2 kilo wet. Used five liters of water with five white cups of medium weight wood ash.

July 18, 1993 (Sunday)

This AM the light marima was only partially cooked so we washed it and cooked it again with 5.5 liters of water and six white cups of wood ash. Started cooking at 10:45 – till 3:00 pm. Still not cooked.

We cooked it again using five cups of bark ash which was very strong. Salt taste. We used six liters of water and started cooking at 3:30 pm. Next we beat the Caquetá yarumo fiber which, after much washing, still had lots of red colored meat left in it. We beat fistful-sized clumps for about 15 minutes (four fistful-sized clumps). Put it in fridge.

There was a community meeting this AM at which I introduced Celina to the community. She spoke about herself. Was given permission to take pictures. I talked about the project, showed the paper we have made so far and received the consensus of the community to continue. Freddy explained the three phases of the project, etc . . . .

July 19, 1993 (Monday)

This morning I found the fibers three times cooked. Hard still. Started at 7:00 am. Made lye with ash brought to me by ____________. The lye was very dark colored and, when boiling, the bubbles were green. We use six cups of ash to 5.5 liters of water. The fiber was Rastrojo. After four hours the fibers were fairly well cooked but came out very dark colored (affected by the dark lye?).

We next made paper from the yarumo of Hoja Blanca, but only enough to make one piece. We used the jalea of the yarumo de Caquetá which had been setting three days. It functioned very well.

We also made paper from leftover marima blanco and higueron. Three pieces. We made eight sheets of paper from the yarumo de Caquetá. The Caquetá yarumo came out dark colored. Also mixed with it was the leftover marima blanco and higueron. Some fibers remained thick and tough.

We made 12 sheets in all. The first thick sheet of yarumo de Caquetá stuck to the board but the others didn’t. Arturo helped us and made a sheet of paper.

In the PM Danta, Celina and I went to the Apaporis to look for more fiber. We found a marima blanco about 4” in diameter and cut it about five meters long. We removed about 35 pieces of bark 2” x 3’. We also removed the bark of the smaller branches.

July 20, 1993 (Tuesday)

Independence Day of Colombia.

Danta, Fernando, and I started work this morning at 7:00. In 2.5 hours we had beaten the marima blanco in preparation for cooking. We didn’t beat the small branches.

Next we beat the fiber we cooked yesterday and (We also put some yarumo de Hoja Blanca in water to make jalea). We started cooking half the marima blanco – 16 strips – at 11:45. We used six cups of ash with six liters of water. After two hours it was very well done. Next we cooked the other half, with 5.5 cups ash and six liters of water. After two hours it was well done.

We made paper with the red marima from Rostrojo. [an arrow here goes to some text in above paragraph, so not sure if text sequence is right] At first I put in too much jalea and had to strain the fibers to get rid of some of it. We made 12 sheets with a small fistful of fiber left over. When dry it had the color of light chocolate.

July 21, 1993 (Wednesday)

Rojeleo, Fernando, Louis.

We beat half the white marima about one hour and made jalea from yarumo blanco. Stripping the outer bark and leaving the inner bark to soak, we produced a jalea almost clear but a little yellow-brown.

We tried to make paper using small mold with no jalea but the fibers are too long and didn’t settle evenly. When we added jalea the water wouldn’t settle; you had to wait minutes. So we decided to try the big mold. We put all the fiber in the big vat and tried without adding jalea but fibers wouldn’t settle evenly so we added jalea and were able to make thin sheets with the big mold. We made two sheets with small mold and five sheets with big mold.

After pressing the sheets and setting them to dry we went to the port to look for more fiber. We found about five higueron trees near the port. We cut down one about 7” – 8” in diameter and removed the bark of the entire tree. We washed the letche (?) out of the bark and carried it to the lab.

July 22, 1993 (Thursday)

Rojeleo, Fernando, Louis.

1st Cook: At 7:00 am we began by preparing lejia for higueron. We tried cooking pieces uncooked (5 cups ash, 10 liters water, 6 pieces). After two hours the pieces from the top of the tree were well cooked and beat well. The pieces from lower in the tree were less cooked, needed much more beating and still had thick strands.

2nd Cook: Next we classified the fiber into upper and lower and cooked some of the upper bark with 7 liters of water and 6 cups of ash. All pieces we cut into strips 1” wide or less by 3’. We cooked 27 pieces. Started cook at 11:45 am. We cooked the fibers till 3:00 pm and they were still a little tough but fairly well cooked. We beat them very well over an hour, after which they seemed to part totally.

3rd Cook: We did a third cook in the afternoon, cooking 25 pieces of the inner half of the bark (part close to tree) using 6 liters of water and 5 cups of ash. We left it to cook overnight.

July 23, 1993 (Friday)

Rojeleo, Fernando, Louis.

We started at 7:30. Had bad headache. …