Carlos Quete

The following is a translation of a transcription from an oral interview.

DSCN0966Hello amigos. I’m going to tell you my story of my life just like you would like it and it will interest you. I was born in the jungle and raised in the jungle until I was 17 in a small place called Carmen del Emero, that when I was little was inhabited by only two families, there was no school, there was nothing and I didn’t study.

I learned everything: the noises, walking, from the jungle. How to hunt, how to build traps, how to hunt fish –there were no hooks, only arrows, poisons, traps like Rambo, pure (there were) bambi (deer), tapir, monkeys, birds. I would eat anaconda, I would eat all the animals that there is on the ground. Everything there is on the ground can be eaten and it’s more healthy and clean than all the chemicals that are eaten today.

My father taught me how to survive in the jungle. Where I live (lived) there are seven lagoons. There are Pampas (savannas), anacondas, caimans. We had all the animals that you can find inside Madidi National Park. There I learned about all the medicines that exist in the jungle. The jungle is a whole hospital, complete. Mi branch is botany. Carmen del emero is on the Beni River two days of travelling distance. I was born in 1961. My father had 10 women. Now we are 29 brothers and sisters. My father has 102 years of age. He was born in Ixiamas. He can speak Tacana, Aymara, Quechua, Spanish and Portuguese.

Why did he go to live to Carmen del Emero? My father liked it there. Because there were many animals to hunt, because there were big lagoons and was tranquil, far away from people, in clean air, you don’t pay taxes. Now he lives back in Ixiamas. In the year 1973 began to arrive more people, eight families. Now there are around 60 families. There is a school, soccer courts, basketball courts, big schools and big teams.

What do people do there for a living? They do agriculture: citrics, lots of cocoa ancarlos2d also coffee. Hunting and fishing. I studied in military school at 18. I learned to read and write. From there I worked with Tico Tudela in Tuichi tours (now fluvial tours). I’ve been trained; I’ve received training courses as a guide. In 2005 I had my first course.

Why don’t you work for Tico anymore? Because he doesn’t pay enough. He pays 60 Bolivianos. That’s why he almost has no guides, everybody leaves. I like working as a guide because I love my job. Even though I don’t speak English or French, only Spanish. I’m a patient guide, I like to listen. I like to do everything well, to explain about the jungle.

Carlos worked with tourism from the beginning. At first, the type of tourism that arrived to Rurrenabaque was mostly scientific. Most trips lasted 20 or more days. Carlos accompanied more than twenty scientific expeditions to different far away places. One of them was to his place of birth, where they studied the Mutun, a rare bird that resembles a turkey.

They went to study this bird for a month. They studied his blood. They say his blood is medicinal.

In another case he accompanied an expedition for twenty days to Río Negro, about four days away of river travelling. There they studied the Mamaco, a black bird similar to a fine Cock. They recorded its calling on a CD.

I accompany scientists to study plants, medicinal, toxic. Others studied worms, butterflies, snails. All, for more than twenty days.


Activities in which Carlos Participates

  • Madidi Experiential Retreat
  • Trekking Alto Madidi
  • Journey to the Heart of the Amazon
  • Journey to the Heart of the Earth
  • Exploratory Expeditions


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