Amazon culture in the center of Lima

Wednesday, May 10

In the center of very urban Lima we visited Cantagallo, a tiny part of the Amazon jungle that lives in the hearts of a few hundred indigenous Shipibo people, from the far eastern side of Peru, who have settled here.  Their language – Shipibo – is one of about 50 indigenous dialects spoken by various Amazon tribes.

So that their children grow up identifying themselves as Shipibo — knowing the Shipibo language, vision of the universe, culture, and medicinal plants from the Amazon – they started their own school.  We visited the school, spent time hearing a teacher explain aspects of Shipibo culture, learned about their artwork, walked through the shantytown where the community lives, and bought Shipibo crafts.

Their dedication to make their lush Amazon culture flower in the center of an urban desert taught us all a lesson about the importance of culture.  Despite a massive fire in November that destroyed all the homes and the church in their community, they’ve been determined to rebuild and replace what was lost so that they can pass on their culture to the next generation.