The Olympic torch reachs the traditional communities in the Amazon region that were able to have a closer look at the Rio 2016 Olympic torch this past Monday, June 20. One of the calling places in the torch relay tour was the “Tupé Sustainable Development Reserve”, where about six indigenous and riparian communities live. The torch was welcomed with joy by shaman healer Raimundo Kissib Kumu Vaz, who was chosen to be one of the torchbearers. An indigenous ritual with the sacred Olympic fire took place in a hut in the forest.
“The torch means so much to us because we are daylight people. The sun, the fire is our symbol. So this torch is like our own symbol. The fire gives us strength. That’s why I am so happy and getting all those goosebumps holding that torch,” said the shaman. Itamar de Oliveira, Environment Secretary for Manaus, Amazonas, said the torch stop in the environmental reserve enhances its value and gives visibility to its people. “It is such a great pleasure to be here in this environmental sanctuary honoring the Amazon indigenous communities and showing the world how important this place is,” he said.
The torch was welcomed with a lot of excitement with posters and fireworks in Catalão, a floating village in Iranduba, Amazonas, where houses are built on floating logs. Because of the delays in the relay tour, there was one point when the community locals thought they would not get to see the torch. Manoel Alves da Silva, a 59-year-old fisherman, and one of the two locals chosen to bear the torch, said “The community chose me, and I’m keen to represent my town. It’s an honor for me”.
He passed the sacred flame to another local resident, canoeing athlete Raimunda de Freitas, who went with the torch to the place where the Negro river meets the Solimões, a popular tourist spot in the Amazon. The torch also stopped at the São Tomé community in Iranduba, where one of the torchbearers interacted with pink river dolphins. The Amazonas circuit of the torch relay tour ended in Presidente Figueiredo through the Iracema waterfall and rafting down the Urubuí rapid. This Tuesday (June 21st), the Olympic torch arrived in Rio Branco, Acre state capital city, where the torch will travel with 120 bearers along 24 km.