Our understanding of the Boiling River’s history (as it relates to people) comes from two primary sources: the local Amazonians, and oilfield documents from the early stages of the Agua Caliente Oilfield’s development (which can be found in the UC Santa Barbara Department of Special Research Collections).
Local oral traditions describe the Boiling River as existing “Before the time of the grandfathers.”
The river’s ancient name is “Shanay-timpishka,” which roughly translates to “Boiled with the Heat of the Sun.” This name is interesting for various reasons. Firstly, the name itself suggests a hypothesis— illustrating how the ancients sought to explain the world around them. Secondly, as this name is in an Amazonian-Quechua dialect, it may not be that “ancient,” potentially only a few hundred years old. There is undoubtedly a deeper history to uncover and more research to be done to truly understand the Boiling River’s significance to the Amazonians’ ancestors.
According to Maestro Juan Flores (shaman of Mayantuyacu), the Boiling River has always been regarded as a place of tremendous spiritual power. In the past, local people were afraid to go into the Boiling River’s jungle—particularly to what is now the Mayantuyacu area—as the jungle was home to very powerful spirits, and even man-eating jaguars. As a result, only the most powerful shamans (some of whom were Maestro Juan’s ancestors) would visit the river in order to commune with the spirits and learn their healing arts.