Living with Guyana’s Wai Wai taught me that building relationships – and earning money – is vital for indigenous people to get access to healthcare and education
Every night during a 600-mile kayak trip, adventurer Pip Stewart asked her team members for their highlight of the day. In an Instagram post, she recounted how one, a Wai Wai guide named Romel, would give the same response each day: “It was good. I enjoyed the paddling. We had good food.”
For the trip – which was the first ever descent of the Essequibo river in Guyana – Stewart and fellow adventurers Laura Bingham and Ness Knight recruited their guides from a village I know. As an anthropologist working with the Wai Wai, an indigenous people in the rainforest villages in Guyana and Brazil, I was struck by Stewart’s account. She observed that Romel and the Wai Wai “are better at accepting and appreciating what is”. Her post led me back to a question related to my own research: what do indigenous guides get out of adventure tourism?