Auria's Story: Nurse to Native
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Auria LeBlanc was born in New Orleans, graduated high school at 16 then earned a nursing diploma. She wanted to be patriotic and enlist in the WACs-MC, Women’s Army Corps-Medical Command, but the Great War (World War I) ended before her 18th birthday.
In January 1920 she attended a lecture given by Thomas Horace Welcher who vividly described traveling through South America. Auria was smitten. He needed a wife to obtain additional financing. They were married in June.
On their honeymoon cruise from New Orleans to several major ports in the Caribbean and South America Auria’s middle-class values conflicted with the poverty and social problems she saw. The erotic activity witnessed during Carnivale (Mardi Gras) in Rio de Janeiro was shocking, frightening and different than anything in New Orleans.
While staying at the Cordobano estate Thomas developed eyes for Marika, Hector’s wife. Hector was the financier for their adventures. Marika’s disdain for clothing was quite provocative in an era known for high morals. Auria knew her marriage and womanhood were challenged to the core. She did everything to keep Tom from straying. Apparently, Tom liked naked, busty and dark-skinned women. Over the next year he made three of them pregnant yet rarely touched his petite, white and willing wife.
Tom was a hypocritical, racist, and sexist creature of the times. He despised natives as “ignorant naked savages and sex fiends.” In spite of his education and knowledge of science he needed them for survival and his golden schemes. Before Auria and Tom celebrated their first anniversary his obsession with the Amafook and their medicines became a serious problem. Poor Tom. He was an ardent believer. Everyone knew the Amafook were just a rumor, a wet dream. No society ever lived as the Amafook did—naked and accepting all. No one ever wrote a word about them. Accolades for their contraceptives and medicines were at best fiction.
Meanwhile they traveled through the Amazon Basin on an odd homemade raft-boat. One night a storm almost damaged their floating home and scattered Auria’s clothes. Unfortunately, Tom was not very sympathetic. Auria spent several days naked and just shy of complete panic. The Amafook found her ill and quite sunburn. Their medicines and care restored her health. Tom scoffed at her discoveries yet remained obsessed with finding and exploiting the Amafook.
One of the great controversies throughout her narrative is miscegenation--the interbreeding of lower darker races with whites. At the time such practices were not merely frowned upon but illegal in the United States and most Western nations. According to legend the Amafook intermingled with all races and people. Auria not only becomes a member of the Amafook Tribe but serves as their queen and chief shaman. She “lives as they do…normal, natural and nude.”
Along the way Tom and Auria met Tatiana, another naked white woman lost in the primaeval forests of the Amazon River Basin. Tatiana was an escaped kupry, essentially a slave in another tribe. At the time of Tatiana was pregnant for the fourth time. Tatiana’s status, like our heroine’s is precarious. Ostensibly repatriated to a church of religious zealots she faced an uncertain future.
When a unit of the Brazilian army arrives Auria’s leadership is severely tested. While she battles through several bloody skirmishes and ultimately defeats the invaders her Amafook sisters suffer. All were beaten and raped with the inevitable results. Although the restoration process takes years her Amafook tribe prospers and establishes hegemony in the region.
When a plane crashes near her village three refugees from Nazi Germany emerge. The Hildenbrands must learn a new language and culture. Gerhard brings his anti-Semitic prejudices with him. Mother and daughter adapt rather quickly and join the tribe. Unfortunately, Gerhard cannot accept these changes.