After several nights on that boat little could have been so welcome as having our hooves cushioned by the soft jungle soil, where the only noise was that of the exuberant jungle surrounding us on all sides.
We stayed a couple of days in a village largely populated by people of the local indigenous group the Ticuna. In their telling, at the beginning of time the sun was being blocked by an enormous ceiba tree - like the one rising here above me - which the children of their god cut down, bringing light to earth. Where it fell it became the Amazon River, its branches as headwaters and tributaries, its roots as broad estuary. For their entire history the ceiba tree has played an important role in Ticuna beliefs and ceremonies, as manifestation of the spirit of the Jungle.
Seeing and hearing how this land’s peoples have adapted to, thrived, and mythologized living in such an extreme corner of the earth was an immense privilege. Pressures they face from the intense and increasing exploitation of the region are real and the Ticuna are meeting them with a strength and resilience born of centuries of struggle. We all have our role, though - is the gas in my car from Ecuadorian oil from the Napo River? Is the beef, or soy, on my plate from deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon? Altering consumer choices is no solution alone in itself, but in no world should we accept hamburgers at the expense of pristine jungle and its peoples’ cultural autonomy...
Alas we had time only for another little taste of the jungle. We’ve got to continue on our way down the ceiba to our next stop, Manaus!