But while the floods bring lifestyle changes for the local inhabitants, they're also essential for survival. The water brings nutrients into the forest and provides habitat for fish such as catfish, which is an important part of many villagers diets. Most travelers, ourselves included, are more interested in catching piranhas, due to their notorious reputation. However, as we soon found out, they don't make for as good eating as catfish.
The piranhas have razor-sharp teeth and if there are enough of them, they can easily make a meal of a person swimming. However, the piranhas in the area of the Amazon that we visited did not bother anyone who ventured into the water. Apparently, piranhas pose a threat to people only during times of extreme drought and within specific regions of the Amazon. Still, it is a bit unnerving to fish for piranhas and then swim in the same spot! Necklace made of forest beads and piranha teeth
Even with nearly 450 years of European influence, life for many of the villagers hasn't changed much. Local inhabitants still look to the forest and the river for much of their food and building materials. Some larger villages have electricity for a few hours each night, but many smaller ones don't. Dress and tribal languages have been replaced. Most villagers wear western clothing, except when traditional dances or ceremonies are performed, and most speak Spanish.

 Discovering the Amazon:
The World's Greatest River

Continue

Bottom Bar

©1997 Exploratorium