Special feature Venezuela: A community of sailors
In their language, the Makiritare call themselves Ye'kwana, which means "Community of sailors". They have built villages along the river banks that flow through the forest they have inhabited for over 500 years. The Makiritare have inherited their sailor traditions from their ancestors the Caribs and have become experts in the making of long traditional pirogues called Curiaras. To make a Curiara, the men head into the depths of the forest in search of a tree. The tree must be of a particular size - it must have a consequent diameter to make a boat capable of transporting more than a dozen people and heavy weights.
Once found, it is cut down and carved until the characteristic oval shape is obtained. The exterior of the boat is refined and polished with machetes, until the hull is completely smooth. Then the long and precise process which consists in lighting a fire inside the tree trunk to make it softer so that it can be widened begins. Wooden planks that are used to make the seats are installed so that the wood as it cools down doesn't retract. Following this long process that can last up to three weeks, the Curiara is ready for the river. It will last between 3 to 8 years according to the quality of the wood used.
Tradition and technology cohabit here