“As far back as I can remember, there were always peppers around,” says Alfredo Brazâo, a Baniwa man who eats these indigenous chiles with every meal. Arable land is sparse here, so many Baniwa families plant their gardens on hills in the jungle to avoid flooding, even if doing so requires a bit of a journey. Brazâo and I hike for more than an hour from the village of Yamado to a garden where one family is growing more than 500 plants. Along the way, he recalls how a shaman once gave his sister a pepper as part of an adulthood initiation ritual; his mother told her to “chew it, swallow it, and feel the pain.” The burn represents suffering, Brazâo says, and with patience, either can be overcome. The Baniwa will also rub chiles on the gums of infants, which they believe protects the children from evil spirits.