Guest post by Max Toomey
In Loreto there are about forty nine different Indigenous nationalities, each with their own distinct culture, rituals and language. There is only one location in the entire Loreto region that boasts nine different Indigenous nationalities living in one place: at number 200 Guayabamba Street, Iquitos. Opposite the prison. Here a group of over fifty Indigenous university students live (grouped together as OEPIAP), studying everything from Agronomics to Law.
For the last two years, just behind the ten huts they have built, the Curuinsi Association (Curuinsi being the very large ant you might have seen) has been building a Maloca. On the ninth of August the Maloca, over ten meters high and capable of holding around three hundred people will have its inauguration. Last week it was given a name in Castellano and translated into each of the 9 languages. In English it’s: “The Maloca of Intercultural Learning”.
The Curuinsi Association was set up in order to combat the traditions that President of the Association Ruben Medina sees as waning. The aim of the Maloca is to strengthen and promote the cultural diversity of the Indigenous nationalities at a time where they feel that outside influences have become so powerful that their cultural identity and values are in danger. Here they are going to teach their histories, dances, rituals and languages. The world is changing and to keep hold of their traditions they are adapting.
On the seventh and eighth of August the Maloca is going to be opened to the public for a display of cultural items from all over. There´ll be people around in the Maloca to answer your questions, including many who helped build it.
At 9 am on the ninth of August the inauguration will begin, with short speeches from the collaborating organisations followed by examples of music, dance and songs from the nine different nationalities. If you’re interested in trying a bit of authentic food and drink, there should be plenty of that afterwards. In the night the celebration continues: groups of dancers will be followed by traditional rituals and a discussion on the Indigenous understanding of spirituality. Indigenous from all over the Loreto region are coming, we’d love to see people from other countries there too.
Ask one of the guys what something means in their first language, about shamans, about pink dolphins stealing women: they’re all proud of their heritage and their history and want the world to see that there’s more to being indigenous than dances and costumes.
The Maloca will be open the seventh and eight between 9 am and 4 pm, you´re welcome anytime. If you’d like to come to either or both of the inauguration events please give us a call on 607416 or 695602579. Everything is absolutely free; we’d love to see you there.
The Maloca Of Intercultural Learning In Iquitos
Guest post by Max Toomey