I remember watching a tv program many years back where David Blaine the famous illusionist went to the Amazon region and performed some magic tricks to a group of children who were living in a remote traditional village. What was most striking to me was that these kids did not even look surprised at a trick that would have most people standing there with their mouths hanging wide open. Having had the opportunity to visit a similar type of village in the Amazon, I immediately got why…… they were surrounded every day by magic and wonder that was their backyard.
About 15 years ago after escaping from a tedious work situation, I managed to convince my wonderful wife that I needed to do something that I had always dreamed of. (I conveniently neglected to mention anything about mosquitos, bathing in rivers, sleeping in hammocks or walking in mud up to your knees!!)
We were off to a city of 30,000 called Leticia located at the southernmost point in Colombia in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. The location was inspired by a book I read by Wade Davis called One River which is about his mentor Richard Evans Schultes. (the Indiana Jones of the plant world) This book is one of my favorite reads and the life of Schultes brought up a strong yearning to experience this magnificent part of the world. Flying into this city you can sense the vastness of the surrounding Jungle with the many tributaries that branch off the main Amazon river.
The Amazon region is truly the lungs of the world producing almost 30% of the oxygen on the planet. Apart from the oxygen high we could spend time with the local people where they taught us how to harvest acai berries and make a drink (Don’t drink river water like I did!), finding “camu camu” fruit for a snack, fishing, identifying plant medicines, swimming and just overall enjoying the scenery. It was amazing how rich and fulfilled their lives were, everything they needed existed within their surroundings – food, medicine, entertainment. Most of all no mind-numbing television or video games, depressing newspapers, traffic jams or people hustling to get somewhere to do relatively unimportant tasks. I think we could all take a lesson from my new friends.