Sunday, May 24, 2009


Masato is a drink made from fermented yucca. It is traditionaly prepared by women who chew up pieces of yucca and spit them into a large bowl where they ferment. Masato is a culturally important drink within communities along the river. Most cargo unloading sessions were followed by a shared drink which was delivered by canoe from surrounding communities.

As a sign of respect, visitors are often invited to share a drink with members of the community. We had read that it is considered quite rude to decline masato when it is offered to you, so if you do not want any, hold the bowl up to your mouth and pretend to take a sip.

While I am normally open to new cultural experiences, I would have been fine skipping masato, but this was not to be. While wandering in a community during one of our cargo stops we were invited into a home to drink masato with the men. The women of the house brought out two large bowls filled to the brim and handed them to us to be passed around. The thing we read about pretending to drink is practically impossible when you are a foreigner as everyone watches you with their full attention. When the bowls had been passed around and were empty we were delighted to discover that there was an unlimitted supply in the kitchen.

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