The Upper Amazon

I was reading about the uncontacted tribes of Peru. One group in particular has been trying to make contact recently. Of course this gets me to thinking about my time in the Peruvian rainforest, and in the rainforest of other countries as well. It’s the most peaceful, beautiful place I’ve ever known. My two favorite trips were to Egypt and Peru. They were so completely different that there isn’t really a way for me to quantify which was better. They were both amazing. But the rainforest is where I wanted to live… I remember when I was in Peru, there was a woman running a clinic for the locals there. I begged her to let me stay on as an assistant, but I had no medical training. I started going to school with the hopes of becoming an ethnobotanist.. but that’s another story.

By day I helped the researchers collect bugs.. mostly katydids. It was entomologists from the Smithsonian, and the trip was through Earthwatch. In my free time, I wandered the rainforest. It was stunningly beautiful, and everywhere I looked life grew on life, various layers creating the ecosystem that so entranced me. At night I was filled with an exquisite happiness. I was content.. and rocking in a hammock outside, listening to all the sounds of the forest at night made me feel I belonged there. The local Indians I met were curious and friendly, and at one research station they made this music with primitive instruments that only added to my contentment. I loved everything about it. There are a million things in the rainforest that can hurt you, and I knew that, but I learned quickly what to avoid. The browns and greens of the rainforest are accented by brilliant reds, blues, yellows.. poison dart frogs, sap from the Dragon’s Blood tree, a caterpillar advertising that it was posionous to touch. I fell in love with it.

There was a shaman there.. he spoke no English, but had a botanical garden for his cures. He did a cleansing ceremony on us, and when he got to me, he drew a circle around my wrist with his plant ink. I asked if it meant anything, and he told the interpreter that it was to drag me back to Peru. I’ve thought about that often, and I think I left part of my heart there. I want to go back.


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