This is Riohacha,
the capital of the Guajira department, located north of the country on the bank of the Rancheria river
and the Caribbean shore. It is a very touristic city with
great natural and cultural diversity. Here, more than a fifth of the
population is indigenous. The Wayuu community is the largest. They are renown for traditional medicine.
One of the main species they use is the Trupillo. It is the emblematic tree of Guajira.
Rich in fiber, carbohydrates and proteins, it is used to prevent constipation,
diabetes and colon cancer. How do I know all this?
Let’s start at the beginning. His name is Jairo Rosado,
he is a researcher. He was born in Guajira
in a Wayuu family. He traveled to Medellin
for a university degree, and then to Mexico where
he furthered his studies. When he returned to his homeland, he formed the Pichihuel research
group at Universidad de La Guajira, to study the medicinal plants used
by the Wayuu habitants of the region. Jairo , who was born in a Wayuu family,
studied away from his land , returned and formed a research group
to study Wayuu medicinal plants, has studied more than 800
species in the last 30 years , working on preserving the region’s culture
and sharing his knowledge. This is Edwin, a young Guajiro who
will soon be going to this university, and who wants to know more about
the research carried out here. For me research means to find
an explanation for something, like “Ok this is like that, lets investigate How was it done?
Where does it come from? I think researching is fun, it is a hobby, it feeds me spiritually,
I have fun. It’s a passion. I tell my students that the day I can’t study anymore, I’ll retire from university. The day my body can’t keep up with
my mind, I’ll retire because it’ll mean I’m old. Meanwhile, there is no Saturday, no Sunday, no day, no light, no women,
no drinks, no nothing. Only research on what we don’t
know about the department. We collect the experience indigenous
people have in the use of plant for the cure and prevention of diseases. Have you heard of Pharmacopeia Guajira? Pharmacopeia? Mmmm I don’t know. It’s the interaction between Cosmo-vision, plant, spirits, rocks, minerals and animals. The importance of their role
in treating diseases. That’s what Pharmacopeia means to me. This is the Dividivi tree. What do you use it for?
The fruits for medicine or? You can gargle with the leaves and fruits
to cure tonsillitis and throat infections. Both green and ripe fruits have properties;
you can grind a ripe fruit and apply it on scabies or scars.
It helps healing My mother used to say that pills kill and that all the medicine you
need is in the countryside. She used to make beverages
for the whole community. All the Arijuna, the white people
who lived in Puerto Lopez, would go to Lucila’s because
she prepared the plants for them. I used to collect them,
that’s how I learnt where to find them,
how to use them, and prepare them. When he told me about the topic, I thought “we’re going to talk
about plants all day” But he is going to teach me about
plants that Wayuu use as medicine! Plants I pass by everyday
without noticing. tHe’ll tell me which ones are useful for us,
for them. It’s great! Because we always use
pharmaceutical drugs, ibuprofen, acetaminophen
but it’s good to know alternatives, For example which plants can help
to calm inflammations Awsome! This is the emblematic tree of La Guajira.
It’s called Aipia. It used to be called Trupillo, Trupio. White people who studied the
xerophyte forest call it Trupillo. In some country they call it algarrobo In the Wayuu communities, illnesses are treated with traditional
medicine depending on their severity, they are classified as Ayulee or Wanülüü. Ayulee? Mmmm Wanülüü? I don’t know In Wayuu mythology, or Cosmo vision, Ayulee are the illnesses that are not
malign or fatal. They don’t kill. They are common illnesses such as a cold,
the flu, lice, scabies, stomachache Wanülüü are more serious diseases, the ones neither a shaman nor an
Ouzu nor a Yerbatera can cure Only occidental doctors. They are the one that kill, like ischemia, tuberculosis Serious diseases. The whole cattle feed on its branches,
fruits and foliage. It also has properties; you do this
with the fruitslike that. And you boil it with the seeds. Add some panela and drink it. The fruit deworms, rejuvenates
and it is also an aphrodisiac. Our student is progressively
discovering the topic. Now he will get firsthand knowledge
from the Wayuu Indians of the region. In the objective of rescuing the
ancestral knowledge of the region, professor Rosado has had to
travel to many places to identify the plants Wayuu people
told him were medecinal. Is that Guarara? YYes it’s Guarara, it’s Wayuu for liana.
You cut a bit off like that just a small piece. Burn it and apply it on a wound,
it helps healing. If you chop this into small bits, and boil it for 20 minutes,
you can drink it. It’s a multivitamin. In addition, it prevents the
pain caused by menstruation. For young Wayuu who have severe pain,
this is the panacea. Same for colic, in kids, stomachaches.
This plant is very important. Most of the medicinal plants used
by indigenous people are toxic. But as Paracelsus used to say,
“The dose makes the poison”. And Indigenous people
are very precise with doses. They always prescribe the same dose. I don’t know where they learnt it.
From animals maybe Indian astuteness
But they recognize toxic plants and they know during which period
they are toxic. It’s ancestral wisdom. I feel we see indigenous people
as stupid or ignorant. But I realize they’re just
as intelligent as we are. We go to the country and see a fruit
and think “This looks sweet!” We eat it without knowing its poisonous
But they know its poisonous, and they know you can use the roots And that if you prepare some medicine with the roots you have to know
the exact dose. Otherwise it’s harmful too.
I mean. They’re hardcore! Ok Edwin, let me show you this plant.
It’s called painkiller. Smell it. Nice right? It is packed with essential oils. Some chemical analysis have shown
the plant contain a lot of essential oils. And Indigenous people have determined that Essential oils are the base Well they haven’t determined it, but they
know it’s good to ease all types of pains. Headache, rheumatism,
pain caused by a cold Any pain. That’s why they call it Painkiller. Ok, As much as I can fituntil I can’t fit
anymore in. A good fistful A good fistful for one liter of water. Professor, does it work the same way
on people that are not Wayuu? Yes, most of the plants
that have been recognized as medicinal by
Wayuu’s pharmacopeia can be used in Arijuna’s pharmacopaeia.
For the most part. Almost all the residents of Riohacha, and La Guajira use medicinal plants
dicovered by Wayuu. And plants they have
discovered themselves too. This is not about being Wayuu or Arijunas.
It’s universal. The properties of these plants have
been recognized by Ajulinas’ Pharmacopeia, and everywhere in the world,
the active substances have been isolated. My job was to examine all the pdf files, all the scientific articles that were
released on these plants. The most important part of the job
was to compare the laboratory results to the properties the plants
were said to possess. And over 90% of the
results were positive. The active substances worked on the
diseases they were supposed to cure. More than 40,000 Indians live in Riohacha. However, Edwin has never
had the chance to really discover their characteristics and customs. I would like to know what it
means to be Wayuu. What are your rituals, your custom? To be Wayuu is to be a person,
just like me, I am Wayuu. In the Wayuu culture here,
we use a medicine called Jaguapia. Indigenous plants.
Here we don’t drink like you, we only drink mazamorra,
you call it chicha The famous Chicha. What are the differences between
you and white people? They are Arijunas,
they are not of Wayuu descent. We have Wayuu blood.
I have no Arijuna blood. I’m pureblood. We call them Arijunas,
they speak Spanish but we don’t. I had already been to Rancheria,
but I hadn’t been in contact with them. I passed by,
watched some animals, had a walk But I didn’t interact like I did with Hilda.
It was awesome. She explained what Wayuu were,
told me about their lives. Awesome, really. To meet them
and spend time with them. Wayuu are generally mistrustful because
they have always been oppressed You have to accept their food
and converse with them. You have to speak slowly.
Then you gain their trust. Once they trust you, they engage with you, and they will give you all the information
and explications you need. That’s how I could write the book. Paying some of them, waiting for other
and getting lost in the forest with them. Wayuu are the largest indigenous
community in Colombia and Venezuela, besides their traditional
medicine and their language, they are also characterized by the division
into clans, grazing and handicraft. Our two characters are on their way
to a xerophytic forest. Let’s see if Edwin knows what that is? Xerophytic? Xerophytic? Does it mean Blue?
No, I don’t know When I went to the Chilean desert,
it changed my view of the word desert. It doesn’t suit La Guajira,
it’s a dry forest, a xerophytic forest. Xerophytic means very dry, with rainfall under 200,
60 millimeter per year, which is what happens in the forest
in La Guajira. It’s a xerophytic forest. This tree is called Jobito, uvito.
It is called like that because of the fruits. The fruits have many functions
in the Wayuu culture. If you squeeze it, it releases liquid.
See? A gel, look it’s very sticky. They apply it on the face to protect
themselves from the sun. And it’s good to cure melasma. The fruits are also edible, they taste really
good and they prevent throat infections. The professor was really surprised
because he was explaining “We eat this, and it’s good against tonsillitis, inflammations, for the face” And I told him “Generally we use
this fruit for the hair.” If we don’t have hair gel and
we’re in a rush to get to school we take some from the tree in front
of the house. Like”any port at a storm” It’s sticky and after a while it hardens.
Plus it has so much vitamins. Well I didn’t know that,
now I know it’s good for your hair because it has vitamins and iron, It helps us maintain our hair straight.
I was always like “Is it all right?” Is my hair not gonna fall? It might be bad
I did it when I was in a big rush, Now I know I can go for it. The professor explained it to me;
he said it’s good. I want to show you this plant.
It’s called Cardon Guajiro. It is very important for Wayuus. Cardon Guajiro’s characteristic is that
is gets covered with fruits, and they are an important food source
for them. They make a lot of juice with it. It protects their stomach against ulcers,
and look It has a marrow, They collect the marrow and if
somebody has an inflammation, they apply it on the inflammation. And more important,
if you prick yourself, you can apply this marrow and the
needle will immediately come out. Our student is learning more and more with
each step. But he still has a lot to see. Aichua (Túa TUA)
Use: Eye Infections, Sore throat, cicatrization Kashushira (Milkweed)
Use: Skin Infections, Rashes in babies Kolopoono (Chinese Cotton)
Usage: Anti-inflammatory, muscle aches, chicken pox Tukupe (Mayita)
Use: anti parasites, healing, Si’chi (Guamacho)
Use: Expectorant, anti inflammatory female sterility, Stomach ache,
Flu and fever Kateesua (M Olivo)
Use: Toothache, Itchy skin, good luck Alo’ukemasu (Amargosito)
Use: Headache, malaria, rheumatism, oozing. Yawa (Pringamoza)
Use: Arthritis and rheumatism, kidney stones, Heartburns, Prostate
Inflammation, urinary infection, measles Plan’tana (Piñique Piñique)
Usage: Stomach ache, Scabies and sores Breathing difficulties,
anemia, Gaining weight Aliita (Calabazo)
Use: Sterilization, dandruff, Hair or skin infection Yoluu’japuru Chiika (Barba E’Sapo)
Use: Cold, Evil Repellant In indigenous tribes, there are
specialists such as El Piache, a doctor with spiritual abilities. And the Alüjülii,
an expert in medicinal plants. Ok guys, this is a plant
called Algodon Chino. It’s a very important plant,
it means a lot to me. I had heard it was anti-inflammatory,
but when I was diagnosed with an inflammation of the plantar fascia,
on both feet, I followed the recommendations
of Pharmacopeia Guajira. I smoothed out these leaves, cut them,
apply the N°2 menthol ointment on them, and apply it three times a day
for almost a month. This plus marine therapy contributed
to me being here with you today. When the professor talked about his
disease, about the plant that cured him, I thought “He doesn’t just research
and then let people try” He uses it himself, and it has done him good, because his feet are healed now. I use to call Algodon Chino the witch because it when the fruit crack open,
it releases a fluffy thing, like cotton. I didn’t know it has anti-inflammatory
properties. That the gum, or milk, is good for your teeth,
and to cure the mumps. And for the complexion.
It’s great to learn. I have always proclaimed,
and I wrote it in my book, that as long as the Wayuu people
are not mentally ready to accept western therapy,
western drugs won’t work. In Mexico, in Cuetzalan Anywhere with
a important indigenous population, Western doctors coexist with
Wayuu doctors. My idea is that cohabitation
shouldn’t be ruled out. On the contrary, they should invite Piaches,
invite the wise people from the Guajira, and create an indigenous regional
hospital where the two cultures would coexist in order to cure
diseases more effectively.. This plant is called Barbaco Playero,
we take all the roots away, separate this bit, and boil it. We use it when we have sore eyes, we put some of that infused water
in the eye and it heals it. PPeople might say “Indigenous
are not from the same social class!” But that’s not right,
they are my people too. After all,
I come from the Wayuu people too. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m Wayuu,
but some of my blood is. It’s really nice that
I got to share a moment with them. They’re just people like you and I. I consider them as family. I have two basic
objectives for La Guajira. The construction of a
phytopharmaceutical center equipped with technology from Cuba, in order to make the most of
pharmacopeia by making pills, and syrups to cure benign diseases. The other objective is a center to create
food products from La Guajira’s flora. Cookies, puddings, juices, sweets All made from plants, so that you
might give a kid a sweet, but this sweet is helping controlling
sugar levels, or fighting parasites. Food that improves their food habits while
reminding them of their cultural heritage. Edwin has been here and there
and learning about plants and the indigenous culture of his region, but before his tour comes to an
end let’s learn a little more about him. Edwin is 18, he once had a girlfriend
whom he could only see 1 hour per day, 4 days a week. The silver lining is that the situation
revealed the compositor in him. I don’t know what to do so that you give
me one more minute, one hour a day, four in a week, 16 in a month,
You’ve got to understand, 102 in a year do you want to lose me?
I don’t know Besides giving him inspiration,
the beach is also where he exercises, plays soccer and spends
time with his friends. He says he can stay here for days. 18 years old Edwin from La Guajira,
who composed a song to a girlfriend
asking for one more minute, likes jogging, playing soccer and spending
time on the beach with friends Hadn’t had much interaction with
the Wayuu culture of his region, until today. I’ll do this until I die. Then I’ll rest from writing, researching, encouraging, And showing the world that here is
a world-class pharmaceutical pantry. I am super satisfied! It was awesome, I know they’re nice and they’re
not doing me any harm, On the contrary they’re helping me. And teaching me.
It’s the first time I experience this. I live here in Riohacha surrounded
by indigenous people, but I hardly interacted with them. It was great to be like part of the group,
they’re just normal people. I would really like to do some research.
To research full time. It’s awesome. They helped me a lot.
It’s a learning experience. If they told me “Edwin, now we’re
going to study sea animals” I’d say “let’s go, let’s see what’s in
the sea cause I don’t know. Let’s go!” ”What? The mountains to study mosquitoes? Ok let’s go see some mosquitoes
in the mountains!” Why not? It’s good for you brain, it’s learning! It is fundamental we recognize ourselves
as multicultural to define who we are. We must value the knowledge that others
have built through the years, although it might be unfamiliar. we live in a counrty rich in landscapes,
colors and sounds, a country driven by knowledge. Knowledge that is here and
available for everyone to benefit from.
This is Riohacha,