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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Living off the land

The Amazon spreads endless knowledge and provokes endless questions.

After spending my time there, I have started to think about everything I have at home. All the material possessions that litter my room and all the clothes tightly stuffed into my closet. My next though is of Boca Pariamanu, the Amazonian community we spent the last week living with. I think about how they are slowly assimilating with the outside world- buying boats from Puerto Moldonado instead of making their own, using motos to carry brazil nuts untead of using manpower. Year and years ago this community was not in contact with the outside world. They lived, worked, and thrived off the land we recently stood on. Their use of nature manifested in many different ways. None of the food was processed. We killed some of the chickens we ate for dinner one night. We harvested the most rich bananas I have ever eaten from the forest. Medicinal plants were used for colds, aches, and pains instead of advil or claritin. Houses were built from wood cut and polished within their community. Their lives thrive off the gift of nature despite the rapid deforestation and loss of the Amazon they are so desperately fighting against. My life thrives off the constant consumerism reflected in the culture that is the US. That very lifestyle both indirectly and directly contributes to the rapid deforestation and loss of the Amazon.

It is quite possible that my one being produces more waste than the whole community combined. How can western culture of consumer capitalism learn from communities like Boca Pariamanu? How can I bring these lessons home despite knowing the moment I step off the plane I will be hounded with advertisements once more? These questions will keep circulating in my brain until I find a way I can bring the relationship to pachamama seen in Boca back home with me.

Until next time.