Don Gabriel my guide

So the trip down to the Jatun Sacha reserve in the Amazon was pretty damn hilarious and sketchy at parts. The Amazon is experiencing a lot of rain at this point in the year so there are a lot of mud slides happening along the road. What does that mean for the busses? Well it means that they will just drive around the mud slides on alternative dirt roads if they have to. Or at the very least if a bridge is out how about drive right through the river with the bus? Yep they did that at the last bridge just before we got here. My bag was up near the driver so I had no fear of it getting soaked and quite frankly found the entire drive pretty amusing. The water probably came up to fully cover the bus tires completely! Giddy up.

Then yesterday a group of Jatun Sacha volunteers and myself headed out on a bosque walk through the Amazon rainforest with our trusty guide Don Gabriel. The history behind this man (in the photo) is that he comes from a really well known Shamin father who has passed on his knowledge about the various medicinal qualities of the plants found within the Ecuadorian rainforest. He is also a keeper of these areas around Jatun Sacha as he walks around the rainforest regularly with groups and by himself to check out the wildlife, vegetation, and make sure that no illegal trapping, oil work, or cutting of trees happening.

The massive vegetation, bugs the size of my hand, and wild species here is breathtaking. The secondary forest where we started the hike was filled with growth throughout the forest floor. As we approached the primary forest most of this vegetation fell away to tall trees and big plants. It´s something that pictures or words would never truly describe.

Let´s put it out there from the get go: Don Gabriel is an amazing man. His wealth of knowledge about ancient medicinal plants completely inspired me to learn more about my own back home. I respect the amount of knowledge that he carries about each plant in the forest, and there relationship with other plants. The stories that he spoke about reminded me how precious this environment out here really is. There is a hidden cost that we pay for removing the oil from this area of the country.

It came as a reminder to me that I want to tread lightly on our world, and ensure that what is happening to people is fair and ethical. Sometimes people feel there has to be a price to pay for our own progress, but then that makes me think that somewhere in that this type of progress someone always seems to lose out. Tragically, it seems like it´ll will be the people who have less money, knowledge, or skill to fight back those who are taking advantage.

It also makes me realise that in a lot of ways I really like the concepts of permaculture (go Wheats & Jamie) as I think the concepts of integrating with nature is essential for future food production and is a much more sustainable in it´s practices. I think that Don Gabriel brought the idea of sustainability full circle for me again. Not to mention the fact that I just finished reading this great book called Ishmael.

You know I think it´s really easy for us to go on as our regular lives and forgot about where our food and other things comes from. I have found myself doing that during parts of my trip here in Ecuador even, but I think that this was a really nice reminder of all that. A reminder that the impact of our drive for more things is having a huge impact of South Americans and the indegenous tribes in these countries. It´s just to easy to ignore the impact that some of the development is having, and unfortunately (fortunate for some companies I suppose) the things that are happening aren´t making it to European and North American media sources for us to find out more about.

It´s a different life that Don and other people in the Amazon live than us back home in North America. It´s a lot more grassroots then I have ever lived to be honest. But it does get me thinking that what choices I make at home do really have an impact on others too. I don´t think that I really can walk away from that. It was something that we had talked a lot about on the Otesha tour.

Yes yes I suppose one might say I`m getting preachy but you know it´s hard when it´s right in my face right now not to comment. Personally, I think maybe as a society we should look more at the impacts we are having in some countries, and start working towards adopting new sustainable practices that will help reduce our impact and create less demand.