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Allillanchu mis dragones!

Allillanchu!

I am excited to write to you all, my future travel companions.  Even though I am from Peru and I am familiar with some of the places we will visit, I am always thrilled for a new adventure, especially the type of adventure that we will have!

Traveling intensively for the last ten years of my life and getting to know the spectacular landscapes of the Andes and Amazon regions has genuinely defined my purpose in life. For someone that comes from the big city of Lima -placed in the middle of the Peruvian coastal desert- a trip to the mountains and the jungle is like going to another planet. Imagine the cultural diversity that these different environments have created over millenniums! Despite years and years of change, the indigenous people and their ways of life are still important for our identity today. In the Peruvian Amazon, there are about sixty different indigenous groups, each one preserving their own language. Throughout my previous excursions, I have met some of these amazing people and, even though sometimes we were not able to communicate using words, we got to learn from each other a lot. By leaving my Lima bubble and traveling this country, I have found myself and a reason to continuing exploring other ways of living, other ways to see the world.

As a scientist, one of my biggest pleasures is to explore and answer questions, to which those responses arise more and more questions. The Amazon, where I have spent much time over the past few years has sparked my interest in ecology research. I have done studies relating to the dynamic populations of large mammals like the spectacled bear and Amazonian monkeys. That was only the beginning. While studying the various species of mammals, I fell in love with the Amazon. Then, I got more and more interested in learning about the various mechanisms that exist to preserve this both highly diverse and vulnerable ecosystem. By being willing to understand the cultural issues of the ecosystems we wanted to preserve, myself and my colleagues were able to participate in conservation projects more effectively. From there I learned about the importance of approaching other worlds with open eyes and with a curious heart to explore what is different with great respect.

The philosophy of our Dragons community promotes a travel experience that makes me so enthusiastic about being your instructor this summer. I have seen first-hand how small communities benefit culturally and economically through hosting travelers. Cusco, the most visited region in South America, will able to show you this. While Madre de Dios, not visited so intensively though, harbors some of the most extensive portions of almost-intact tropical forest on earth.  And there is where we go! Anna, Brian, and I cannot wait to explore these places with you guys!

I hope that this letter helps you to get to know me a little while make you so excited as I am about our incoming six weeks of full inspiring experience.

Nos vemos muy pronto. ¡Hasta ese momento mis bellos wayqeys!

Vanessa Luna