Sat, Nov 04, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Rave in the jungle

With dancing, singing and a whole lot of root beer, this tribe shows that wild drunken parties are not just for fun, but are a way of life


“We are women. We are warriors to carry cassava,” she said.


Within hours, the revelers at Manilha’s party had drunk their way through the entire canoe of beer. Fortunately, a second canoe load awaited at the other end of the village.

The increasingly enthusiastic musicians, huddling together and holding on to each other, played the same two notes over and over in a tireless, hypnotic rhythm.

Dancing in a bobbing motion, they shuffled through the village like mad pipers.

First they visited Manilha’s elderly chief who reclined in his hammock, singing along. Next, they visited the women, who drank in a rather less frenzied way.

At sundown, darkness swallowed the entire village, leaving only scattered points of firelight. But the party went on.

The musicians kept dancing and blowing, while men and women laughed and told stories around a central fire. One rather tipsy tribesman, covered in traditional Waiapi ink designs, reenacted a hunting scene, extending his arms to demonstrate the size of some recent prize.

Aka’upotye Waiapi, 43 and eldest son of the chief, looked content.

“Caxiri isn’t just a way to get drunk,” he said. “It’s a way to bind Waiapi to their ancient ways and to keep the young from straying to the temptations of Brazilian towns.”

“If we don’t keep our culture through caxiri, the young will go there to drink non-Indian drinks,” he said. “Lose caxiri and we lose our culture.”

As the stars thickened over the rainforest and the night frogs chorused, guests began to drift off to their hammocks.

A few risked waking up to headaches, but no worry, Japarupi Waiapi said. The tribe has its own cure, a concoction of cassava, a cassava extract called tucupi and pepper.

“Drink that,” he said, “and no hangover.”

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