Juarez Saw Munduruku tilted his head back and let out a lilting, high-pitched laugh. Photographer Mauricio Lima and I had already spent several days living with his tribe deep in the Amazon, but only now had the tribal leader explained some important rules about how to avoid some of the rainforest’s more dangerous inhabitants.

The villagers of Sawré Muybu, who are fighting Brazilian government plans to flood much of their historic lands as part of a $9.9 billion hydroelectric dam project on the River Tapajós, bathe in a sheltered brook at the foot of a gentle hill. It was not until we had made a couple of visits, however, that Juarez revealed the path that leads there is frequented by deadly snakes everyday after 5 P.M. Worse still, after 6, alligators return to sleep in the brook.

On previous evenings, captivated by the scene of the children playing in the water, both Mauricio and I had stayed much later as darkness had approached. My colleague even persevered with the evening visits after Juarez’s advice. The tribal leader, for his part, found our reaction in the face of the jungle to be hilarious.

Being a clan that was first exposed to outsiders decades ago, life in Sawré Muybu is a peculiar blend of ancient customs and modern influences. The villagers still hunt, and on the day we arrived three tapirs were being skinned. The threats to human life are real too, with two Munduruku killed by a jaguar last year. A pet monkey bounded about the village, jumping on the backs of humans and dogs alike.

But on most days, the tribesmen wear western clothes and flip-flops. The village has an electricity generator, fridge, satellite dish and television.Typically overblown dramas centered around the lives of the rich and glamorous of Rio de Janeiro, shown nightly on the dominant Globo television network.

Most of the tribe cheer for Flamengo, Brazil’s best-supported football club. It is, they said, because their red shirts remind them of blood. Certainly, meat is a central facet of life in the forest. My presence was possibly the first time the tribe had encountered a vegetarian. Although they obligingly cooked up the dried soya we had brought, it remained a mystery to them. “It’s monkey food, no?” one asked.

To arrive at Sawré Muybu — which takes two flights, a day-long boat trip, a 4×4 down a dirt road followed by an hour in a speedboat, is not easy — although the village is far from the most isolated place in the Amazon. Once there, the experience was a reminder that although the tribe’s pride in their way of life in the forest remains strong, few places on earth are entirely detached from the wider world.