(The Independent) It’s a suffocating afternoon in Carmen del Emero, Bolivia, but Nelo Yarari Alipaz is oblivious to the humidity and relentless buzzing. The community leader of this remote village in Bolivia’s Amazon – accessible only by a nine-hour boat ride – is ready to talk business with one of Bolivia’s top chefs, Marsia Taha, who runs Gustu restaurant in the capital La Paz.
But before they converse, Alipaz (known as Don Nelo to everyone) shares his goals. “We live sustainably, raising chickens and pigs, catching fish and harvesting wild cacao but we need an income to pay for phone lines and provide internet for the school. Actually, I feel like we’re losers compared with other communities along the river but the truth is, we don’t want donations: we want to work and sell products sourced from our environment to Gustu and other restaurants.”
Home to around 65 families from the Tacana indigenous community, Carmen del Emero’s location on the Beni river has always assured the community a wealth of edible riches such as surubí, pintado (both types of catfish) and pacu (freshwater fish related to the piranha), fish they either consume or sell at market in Rurrenabaque, the gateway town to Bolivia’s Amazon.
Ph: Patricio Crooker
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