So how do a cosmopolitan scientist and a hunter-gatherer fall in love? The courtship was surprisingly straightforward. They’d visit waterfalls together, he gave her a flower, he even presented her with a little wild pig.

continued below


previous / next

But Pedro was not unattached. He lived with two children from a previous relationship, the eleven-year-old Rivaldo and the six-year-old Isaac, whose mother had left the tribe and relocated to the city.

One night, the Nukini and Joana’s friends were gathered for a party, and Pedro and Joana shared their first kiss—a kiss so intoxicating that just a day later, Joana decided to have this man’s baby. When her friends left the village, she stayed behind, and waved goodbye to them from the shore, an elated outsider in a lineup of locals.

Right away, Joana fit in with Pedro’s family and cared for his children, much to his delight. Joana stayed with the Nukini for as long as she could, but eventually had to return to Rio to finish her degree.

Joana’s family was shocked at first, but they grew used to the idea, reassured by Joana’s unmistakable happiness. When I ask her mother if Joana has changed a lot since she moved out there, she takes a minute to think, and says, “No, she didn’t change. She was always a certain way; she just found a place that fits the ideas she already had. But she does talk a lot more slowly.”

Pedro and his youngest son, Isaac, came out to Rio so they could get to know her family in turn. It was unlike anything they’d ever seen—Mâncio Lima, the city they know, is a rural village by comparison. The city by the bay didn’t hold much appeal for the boys—except for its beaches. If it were up to them, they would have stayed at the beach for the entire duration of their stay. But their visit gave Joana the confidence she needed to return to Acre and make her home there, permanently.

Next: Part 3/8 - Jungle Nights

Previous: Part 1/8 - From City to Jungle, The Story of Joana