|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!
|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