Off to visit a family that lives deep in the Amazon of Peru. Isolated from the urban environment they rely upon the forest and rivers to provide groceries, medicines, shelter and happiness. Their food is the healthiest one can obtain.
A boat in the making.
The start of the trail.
When we reached their communal hideway I was given pulb from a tree plant that is like bubble gum. You can chew it forever. They use it to trap birds.
Then we the caretakers gave us fresh coconut juice. I'm infatuated with it. It's full of potassium and magnesium. Sweet nectar of Sachamama. I envy Tom Hanks when he was cast away because he had all the coconuts in the world to drink from.
The kids and I took off the river to swim and play. Swam into a worse-than-porcupine thorny log, still have splinters in my right hand. A giant something brushed against my leg while I was underwater. A few crabs on my foot. A spider the size of my hand on my raft. Amazing.
The children looked so happy and healthy and were very intuitive. I spent a half hour chasing frogs with the little boy to the left. Then I stepped on a cluster of fire ants with my bare foot. They laughed, I almost cried. My toes doubled in size, turned bright red and it felt like my foot was standing ontop of charcoals. Eventually went numb and couldn't move. Lasted only, ummm I dunno 20 minutes. I know why they call them fire ants now.
I hobbled back to the circle. The mother of the family stood up and told us that they respect the jungle and it respects them. I know, I know, it's not the ants fault it was mine for not looking where I was stepping. The caretakers depend on it for their livelihood and in reciprocity take good care of it. The woods around them is virgin. Their little taste of earth bit and stung hard. I love it... it feels like a real jungle.
Like minds walk like paths no matter where in the universe they exist.
The family lined up like a catepillar organized by height. The proud younger son stood in the front with his next-in-line younger sister behind.
The little girls in the back reminded me of my two younger sisters. When my sisters were little I took them to the creek behind our old house and we'd play games in the woods or hunt for snakes and arrowheads. I remember the time Nora thought she was a princess and spent hours decorating my hair with leaves acting like she was annointing me as a king to protect her from the dragons of the forest. Another time I took Emma to the arrowhead beach and a little dear ran right beside her and jumped up when it noticed her. She freaked out and ran thinking the deer was chasing her and the lil' deer took off in the other way. When Emma meets Bambi.
The two men keeping the baby company. When we are babies pretty much fly.
So, let me get deep and personal for a second. Since I was a teen I never wanted to have kids. I thought that another child would only add to the human species and put more stress on Earth's resources. I know that there are too many people on this planet and too much resource abuse. The signs are obvious. But, if I can pull the plug, get off the map in to the wild and help raise a family like this bunch, then I will. I will have to work tons to go full circle, I know this. It's hard to be born and raised in a city and be successful as a farmer and caretaker.
Native teens and children are being pushed and pulled to cities for education and jobs. I studied this for years in university and saw it firsthand in the Thai hill tribes. When the caretakers leave the forests the machines come in. Trees go down. Crops die. Oxygen is lost. Fresh water is contiminated. Ecosystems fail. Rivers run too fast. Floods hit the cities. Most don't return to the hinterland where they are needed to help because they have forgotten their roots and the ways of nature.
I am willing to give up my suburban/urban roots and set them back in nature and teach my children the ways of the natural world. City children in Peru are given free educationl to the 5th grade, but many in the remote parts don't do that. They stay in their neck of woods and learn from their elders the tradtions that have promoted sustainability for thousands of years. It does their mind and body good to do so. I mean look at their skin and figure in the picture, so healthy and fit. You are what you eat. You are the product of your labor. You are the fruit of what you plant. What they eat is absolutely pure. This is a wise move and I'm following in their footsteps. There's so much wealth to be found in being humble.
The dances and stories of the caretakers ended for the night. It was time to get on the river to make it back before the nocturnal river monsters came alive. Right at sunset the crescent moon pointed to the goddess of love, Venus, with the god of the stars above, Jupiter. A triangle. A powerful cosmological moment. Too complex for explanation, yet felt in pure love.
Next morning I met a new friend. I was drawing on the steps when a head popped up to the rightof me. An 8-foot tree snake.
The two weeks in the jungle flew by, but there were moments that stopped time all together. I no longer miss the places I fall in love with. I'm always excited to go and excited to leave. I always think I've found the perfect beach, but then there's always another just as grand on the opposite side of the world. It's all about enjoying the journey, because there is no end.
We got on the boat for a last time and headed towards Iquitos. Along the way we passed several logging crews. Each time I saw a log drifting on the river I thought to myself that there disappears a few molecules of fresh oxygen for our world. I know they, we, need lumber, but from where to take it? Why the big Amazon? Why not a farm?
The rio Amazon.
The boat landing.
Another friend at the dock.
El calle de Iquitos gatos.
Next step for me was 18 hours of first class to Lihue, Kauai. Free food in first class. Nice.
Missed a flight, lost a bag, got a rental car at 1 AM in Kauai... drove it to the furthest beach park and passed out in the back seat. Woke up at the break of dawn and took the foto below. Coffee, bathroom, shopped for an AC adapter for my netbook (my old one blew up at the Lima airport), checked out a few art shops, garlic mahi and rice. Then dropped the rental car off at the airport and 12 hours later arrived to the Banana Bungalow house at the Tunnels Beach. Got no TV, no phone, no Iphone, no Ipad, no 4G, only 3G netbook, no worries, no hurry, no job, no dog, no cat, maybe a gecko in the bathroom, no kids, no wife, no debt, not much money, just me and the beaches and trees. No agenda for Hawaii other than to learn and have a good time. I'll be here for three weeks exploring the island with my grandfather and a good friend from Canada. We're going to check out the farms, food and local culture.
The Amazon journey is over and now the Garden Island expedition begins. Aloha Kauai.