Dean returned to South America to visit with the Achuar people and deliver much needed school supplies. While there, the Achuar presented him with a very special gift; a spear, which represents the power to stand with them for the health of the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador.
Dean will be an expert speaker aboard the Enrichment Voyages cruise to Central and South America in December - a unique travel and learn voyage program connecting travelers to fascinating destinations and topics worldwide.
With every passing minute, we left behind the noise of the so-called developed world as our plane flew deep into the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador.
The loud sound of the plane engine began to fade as I pressed my face against the plastic window to get a better view of the endless rainforest below. The unceasing green was occasionally separated, only briefly, by a brown river winding its way toward the mother of all rivers – the Amazon.
There is no place like the Amazon Rainforest in the world. Thirty percent of all the living species in the world are said to call it home. Most of those have yet to be documented.
I was on my way to visit a couple of indigenous villages from the Achuar nation of Ecuador. They are a proud and distinct people who have lived in harmony with the rainforest long before the Spanish ever arrived.
My mission this day was to deliver three duffle bags stuffed with school supplies to remote village schools. There is no store down the river for the Achuar people who are dedicated to educating and empowering their children to be good stewards of the rainforest. Their lives are a balancing act between two worlds – a sustainable existence in the rainforest and the consuming demands from the so-called developed world for the natural resources that surround them.
The Achuar are a dream culture. In the darkness of the early morning, the Achuar wake at 4 a.m. to interpret their dreams to gain insight on the actions to take for the day and the future. About 15 years ago, a dream appeared to the Achuar to reach out to the west, to the very people they considered being a threat to their way of life. The intention was to build a bridge between these two worlds to help preserve the rainforest and the world.