Inspiration. Not my words Touchthejungle May 07, 2006 11:15 PM
Ecuador is a land of stark contrasts and clear choices, between hellish devastation and pristine beauty. Between rape and rapture. We have passed through hell to get here and this is heaven on earth, paradise. Here, you can feel the very heart of the earth, beating strong. Standing in the green cathedral of eternity, I feel myself getting younger. Mother earth embraces me like her lost child, Life is everywhere, and I soak it up. Where is the creator but in his creations? No church ever built, no words ever spoken, could bring me so close to god as that canoe has done. Tomorrow I will dance before god with his true people and cleanse myself of all the dirt of commerce and rejoice.
Today is my big challenge. Can a sixty-year-old diabetic asthmatic with high blood pressure and a gimpy leg keep up with people half his age? The answer is yes. I walk two hours up and down jungle trails to the village of Playa de Oro, dance with the villagers till the soles fall of my Nike sandals and play drums with the drummers. On the way home the canoe runs around and I jump out and help push it across the shoals.
The next day I hike to the waterfall, swing on a vine like Tarzan, repeatedly climb up and drive off the cliff like the natives.
The day after that I go on an unscheduled hike with Mauro up the mountain to check out the water supply. He doesn't slow down for me at all. He goes uphill as fast as he goes on level ground. I keep up, I never get winded, and I never use my inhaler. Others say they feel similarly invigorated. The reason, of course, is that we are breathing the purest air in the world. Higher oxygen content, zero pollution. The surprise is how dramatic the feeling is. Carbon monoxide and thousands of other toxins are ubiquitous in the air most of us breathe and in our blood. We cannot remove the poison from our bodies unless we remove our bodies to a place of purity. Such places are rare. Playa de Oro Reserve is such a place. It is a powerful, magical place of healing for the body and the spirit.
As Maruo and I start back down the hill, he motions for me to go first. I say no amigo, tu tiene el machete. Mauro offers me the machete. I can't describe what an honor this is. The trust that is explicit in it. But no honor I have ever been given meant any more.
My request to go canoeing with the guys, without the motor has been granted. Mauro comes along this time. They show me how to stand, and we pole up the river and up a creek and walk up the creek catching crawdads and reading animal tracks. I haven't spoken Spanish since high school. But it comes back with surprising ease because there is something I really want to say. I tell them what a rare privilege it is to share their perfect life. I tell them so much of nature has been ruined by 'contaminacion" that people pay to go to places like Disney World where the rivers are artificial, run through pumps.
Mauro picks up on the theme and I realize I don't have to convince these people they are doing the right thing. They know. Mauro and the village elders have seen the unreal world with all its temptations and chose to return to protect their land and their people.
Rosa Jordan, the great lady who started this project has chosen well. It takes incredible courage and genius not to do what these people have not done. They have not sold out. They will not sell out. They can teach us more then we can teach them. If we can help these pure and beautiful people ward off the evils that consume us simply by escaping into their wonderful world, what a perfect victory for both of us. My Spanish progresses from comical to a moment of eloquence. I promise that I will return to help them, because I respect them very much. Their way of life must be preserved because they live in the heart of the world and the heart of the world must not die.
Never ever in my life have I so yearned to be understood and accepted by anyone. The look in their eyes tells me I have become more then a guest. I am a trusted friend. I understand the importance of keeping my promises to such a guileless people. I will return. I invite you to come with me. Years will fall away from you, and your heart will beat to the rhythm of eternity.
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Scroll down. If you find any that don't work let me know.
The cheetah conservation Botswana is the one I volunteered for a month at.
This one is not listed, I will correct that soon!
I truly enjoyed the experience!
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Welcome to Big Cats and Reptile Reception Center Pantera
Every year a lot of fully healthy big cats in zoo's, circuses and private places, are killed only because of lack of space. When we , Arno van der Valk and my partner Barbera Burgstra discovered this, slowly a Mission Statement was growing.
To kill a fully healthy animal only because lack of space is not called management euthanasia but is bold murder
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Its the definitive guide to research work and field initiatives being carried out worldwide by biologists specializing in feline study. They have a huge database and links to information, projects and news. Highly recommend it.
I've written in detail about the Asiatic Lion on another group (Where have all the Big Cats Gone?) - but this website is all about the effort to breed the species in captivity in Europe, with the ultimate goal of reintroducing lions back into the wild. Its got some excellent resources about what's being done to save the lions, and information about the new national park that has been sanctioned as the 2nd home for the lions in India. Also some terrific photos of some of the 'stars' of the captive breeding projects.
Good idea Kuba - I've got tons of these. Will post them up here.
Btw, I have already put up a couple of RSS news feeds at the foot of our page from sites that deal with the latest scientific and wildlife happenings. Will expand on these - but in the mean time, check them out when you have the time.
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