Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Swimming Postman

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The Swimming Postman

Article excerpt

The swimming postman

THE inhabitants have a very singular way of using the lower reaches of the Rio Guancabamba, at the place where there are a great many waterfalls, in order to enable the area to communicate with the sea-coasts to the south. To speed on their way the letters that are sent from Truxillo to the province of Jaen de Bracamoros, they use a swimming messenger. In two days, this unusual postman, who is as a rule a young Indian, swims down from Pomahuaca to Tomependa, following first the Rio Chamaya, the name given to the Rio Guancabamba in its lower reaches, and their the River Amazon. He carefully wraps the few letters that he must carry in a large piece of cotton cloth which he rolls like a turban around his head. When he reaches the waterfalls he swims ashore and enter the river again lower down, walking through the woods that shade its banks. In order to swim for so long without becoming exhausted, he often encircles one of his arms with a strip of very light wood (ceyba, palo de balsa) of the Bombacacease family. Sometimes, too, he swims in company wiht one of his friends. Neither of them need worry about food and lodging, since they are sure to receive a hospitable welcome in the huts scattered among the splendid huertas of Pucara or Cavico, densely fringed with fruit trees. …

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