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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

The Amazon adventure continues

Friends and family,
Greetings from the Amazon!
We are here in the thick of adventure, traveling through a topical landscape of huge, expansive sunsets, thick dark green undergrowth in the jungles, and birds of every size and color. We were reflecting with students yesterday that the travel days in the Amazon part of our journey have been some of the most varied and rugged we have done with Dragons. Hours moving down roads at 15 mph in the back of a WWII army truck, peeking out from under a plastic tarp at the rain. Floating big rivers down from the mountains, seeing side streams a quarter mile wide come in to join the main channel as they ease their way through the muddy jungle. The landscape here is all-encompassing.
Our itinerary has been a balance of extremes. Mornings catching fish and stringing red seeds onto necklaces in native communities. Evenings listening to the rain on the palm-leaf roof of a dirt-floored hut. The slow pace of life in the remote jungle. We hear about harsh politics of indigenous land rights and people struggling for swat in a region being taken over by cattle ranching, gold mining, and logging. The Amazon is the hotbed of arguments between long and short-term land use. If you strip the jungle off the landscape, you make more money, but it’s in the short term; this place has the worst soil in the world. It’s mining the soil for fertility that cannot be restored on human time scale.
We have been living the alternative: a slow life based on sustainability. But it might mean spending days in simple ways like we’ve been learning to do. We’ve been traveling like locals do, spending all day moving at 12 or 14 or 20 mph.
It has taken some getting used to, but we have started to love it. We are traveling lighter, needing less (we left that extra stuff in Cusco). We load and unload our backpacks from transport more efficiently and with less need to communicate about it. Becoming a good traveler is a process, and we’ve been through a lot of it.
Today, we are off to a research station on the Piedras River, the last out-of-touch leg of our travel. We will share more photos, stories, and reflections during our final week in the Sacred Valley of the Inka in 5 days!