TAGGING ALONG by Marika Hanbury Tenison


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When husband Robin set off for the Brazilian jungle to study the condition of the Amerindian tribes threatened with extinction by the land clearing policies of the Brazilian government, Markka, a tenderfoot explorer, tagged along. For Robin it was a fact-finding expedition on behalf of the Primitive Peoples Fund concerned about charges of ""genocide"" against the Stone Age peoples (cf. Lucien Bodard's shocking The Massacre of the Brazilian Indians, 1971); but for Marika it was all marvelously exotic adventure, a chance to photograph the colorful primitives in their natural habitat, basketweaving, performing fierce ancestral dances, etc. Jungle creatures from emus to crocodiles, snakes, jaguars and toads ""the size of a small plate"" provided a delicious touch of danger -- and the romantic possibility of being attacked by bandits more than made up for the discomforts of roughing it. Even in this improbable setting Marika hangs on to her British domesticity (she carries a bottle of celery salt at all times to season native dishes of manoic, wild boar and crocodile tail) and comments appreciatively on local handicrafts from earthenware pots to bracelets made of pigs' trotters. The degradation of the tribes in those areas where ""progressive"" roads and pacification policies have reduced the indigenous population to the role of scavengers on white civilization ""at its lowest, rotten, level"" makes her sad as does the lack of medical supplies and the scabious skin of the Indians, perishing from ""white men's diseases."" Perhaps it's just as well that she leaves politics and anthropological insight to the men. As a travelogue (National Geographic comes to mind) this is occasionally amusing, generally superficial and brimming with naive goodwill.

Pub Date: Dec. 28th, 1972
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan