I guess a trip starts in the mind.
Charlotte and I had seen a couple video’s of the Achuar – Dream People of the Amazon.
Where most might see a backward, ignorant, prehistoric bunch of anomalies, we saw something quite different. We saw a group of people who have never thought of themselves as separate from the natural world. Through their dreams they awoke to see a threat to their very existence. And they have reached out and asked for help from all of us who can see in what a fragile, dangerous position our way of life has placed the natural world.
So we went to be with them. To understand what it is like to be human consciousness representing the natural world. To really get it about sustainable living. To renew in our deepest place, that sacred connection to the creation.
Getting to their world involves a lot of shifts. We left our hybrid cars and home behind and only took one large and two small bags of belongings with us. Our friend and neighbor, Ann Herlihy, drove us to the Jackson Airport and soon we were in Atlanta, waiting for a flight to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, 9,250 feet up into the Andes mountains.
As we wait for the flight out of Atlanta, the language starts shifting from English to Spanish. We all board a large old plane. Hurricane Faye is roaring by to the south. I see a bunch of excited missionaries on the plane. And a lot of young people. We’re getting ready to fly south for about six hours, but there is a strange irony. We’re going there to connect with the Earth in a very deep way. Yet I look out the window and see strips of grass growing between the concrete runways.
Didn’t this whole airport use to be a forest? It was just 500 years ago that this spot the plane is sitting on was a vibrant forest. Maybe the same is true for the spot you are in reading this. What would it be like to live in that long ago vibrant forest? That is what I’m hoping to soon understand.
A friend reminded me that the full, uncut version of consciousness immersed in the natural world is not lost in any of us.
It is in all of our DNA.
We will again experience that consciousness when it gets reawakened.
We are sitting next to a young man from Ecuador who only speaks Spanish. He has been here one month visiting family.
Life in the modern world can be so complicated. Mechanics are working on the door to the plane. It won’t close. It’s an hour later. They say the door is fixed. We’re hoping so.
Now we go through a 40 plane traffic jam getting to the runway. We’ll be getting to Quito pretty late.
Several hours later.
On the one hand we are having a very normal flight.
On the other hand we are 30,000 feet above the ground, and tearing through the black sky at over 500 miles per hour. In mans long history this is really a very profoundly magical feat. Yet the 350 of us doing this together have no trouble – not even any second thoughts – about believing not only in our ability to do this, but we take it to be so normal that we have no sense of awe about it. Some even sleep through it.
We arrive late in Quito. Nearly 11pm.
We go through a steady rain from the plane to the airport. We snake through the immigration lines. Charlotte spots our one piece of luggage immediately and we exit through large automatic doors to a gallery of a couple hundred Ecuadorians. We read all their signs. Near the end of the runway is an older man.
LUNDEMO X2 CAFÉ CULTURA
Raining harder, we get to his small SUV and a half hour later after many turns and narrow lanes we arrive at our hotel. It’s like an older Spanish or French renovated mansion. A warm feel to it. We are up the stairs in suite #1. A matrimonial suite.
There is fruit and wine ready for us
and an acre sized bathroom.
We had a note at the front desk to meet the group at 7:30am for breakfast. Feeling like toast, we toasted and crawled into bed.
Charlotte took a couple valerian root pills to sleep but she was very wound up. Eventually the pills or my unresponsiveness brought sleep. Charlotte was having trouble with body temperature and very hot on the plane and now very cold. I reminded her to notice her dreams. After all, we are here to visit a dream culture.
We awoke at 6am, the part of the dream I remember was a somewhat sleazy overweight middle aged guy who had a business or part of an email address named belowmycity. Someone had hired him to check on us during the night. There were to be five required checks, but he did seven. Six would have needed a good explanation, but seven was clearly illegal and unethical. Go figure.
Charlotte awoke cold a couple times. In the morning she was stuffed up. Maybe allergic to something. Maybe altitude adjustment. (We’re waking up a mile and a half above where we usually wake up) A couple Advil went in to help.
No hot water – or maybe it takes over 5 minutes to come. Wash hair and clean up. Breakfast with the group at 7:30am.
But hold on just a minute.
It’s amazing how we can strap ourselves into a seat. Go up in the sky. Come back down several hours later. And the world has changed. Inside our head maybe not much has chanced, but outside it – whoa!
We’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. It’s a country about that size though. We’re still in the central time zone, but now we’re on the pacific coast. We’re not surrounded by Baptists, now it’s 95% Roman Catholics. Although Mississippi is thought of as a poor state, here wages are just above 1/10th of what they were when we got into the plane.
Ecuador may have one name, but it includes 3 or 4 very different kinds of places. We dropped down high up in the Sierra region. Up in the Andes among active volcanoes. There is also a lowland called the Coastal region. There are the Galapagos Islands hundreds of miles out into the Pacific Ocean and there is the region where we are heading – the Oriente. The Oriente is the eastern area of tropical rainforest where only about 5% of the population of Ecuador lives. See that larger section of green about in the middle, the Pastaza area? We are headed way out near the Peruvian border of that part.
It would take a person a long time – maybe years to really get this change that happened overnight by being in a plane. But we’re on a much faster track, and now we’re about to meet our fellow travelers for heading into the rainforest.
next The Tribe