When a Tree Falls in the Forest

A reflection on terror and longing, and finding a way through the heart
Authors note:
I want to share my personal journey of working in the jungle. It is something hard to sum into words, and so intimate, that I feel vulnerable. But vulnerability is some of the best medicine - also a big part of working with medicine - and it means a lot to me to share. This post is originally from 2015.
The jungle is full of life, every tiny inch has something moving. When I first arrived more than a year ago, loneliness felt impossible since all around me was teeming with creatures and vibrant with an almost seething life-force. Even spirits live in these wild places, and will visit you if you ask, as Mariluz taught me how.
As a botanist, ecologist and gardner, to me, the jungle is the epitome of fascination. But it soon became more than that. As weeks turned to months, the more time I spent here, the more it became a mirror. Weeks of being alone with just one or two other people started the process of unpeeling from myself, as the jungle, in all of her power and wisdom, began reflecting me my most inner longings and terrors.
In the jungle, I experienced the tiring yet exhilarating dance of duality within my being - played through light and shadow, past and future, body and spirit, apathy and action, female and male, and wisdom and ignorance. Everyday became a new lesson on how to unite these desperate forces. And in the jungle, there are no places to run to that don't lead you back to yourself. So I faced myself, I faced my terror and delight. And I tried to find the center.
Terror. I say terror, and I want to explain what I mean. It's a strong word, but it's important to describe. Terror is any pure fear of what is unknown, unseeable. It is also the clawing sensation we carry, which from the inside feels as if something is terribly awry. Sometimes it is, depending on perspective. Terror is the realization of the unbridled, frenzied destruction of the earth and people. Terror is the hunger of longing that both eats and devours the self, the other, and nature. It is the unprepared meeting the great mystery, complete with dancing demons and a dose of Self hatred.
I come from the place where prairies flank the foothills of the Rockies. To describe my childhood relation with natural world, I would use the word "simple". The landscapes I knew growing up were open sky, forests of pine, spruce and aspen, the roar of 80km/hr chinooks and deafening quietness of winter - that sound of a forest blanketed by 4m of snow. It was like this for 20years, until I moved to the coast to study ecology and ethnobotany.
Seven years ago I studied in an undergraduate research station in an isolated part on the west coast of Canada. This was one of the first conscious times in my life when my relationship with nature become anything but simple, and explainable through science. I was struck by the terror of wildness. Here it was projected from me as the ocean.
That day, I went out on a boat in fine weather, on a small 4m vessel with outboard motor. We moored to gather information about an intertidal section where algae was exposed to air. It was summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the tides low. We took a break to enjoy the water in the sun before we began to head back, but it was at this point the weather changed. Wind, direct from the open Pacific Ocean picked up. The waves grew. The color shifted as blues became grays.
And the ocean become bottomless.
Of course, we were not going to die, not that day. We made it safely back to the station. At the helm was my wild-research partner whose eyes became alive like the sea as she navigated roiling waters, determined. Though as we docked, what did not leave me was the sense of terror and peril - every hungry mouth of the wild sea snapping at me. Terror and fantasy to consume me alive. The raw power of nature, and the raw power of my story and fear, still miles from easy help.
The mother ocean is at once both creation and destruction. How can that be? Duality is one of life's great paradoxes. The jungle has also brought these teachings to me. The jungle, for me, is like the ocean. And if you have ever been here during an immense storm, or, on the most serene morning at dawn ... You will experience just some of her extreme faces. She is both the cradle of life, and the chopping board of death and decomposition. Sometimes, in the isolation when my guard was down and my layers peeled back, she even showed me how I am the cradle and how I am the knife.
In the jungle, in the wildness. I became the longing and the terror.
My terror and my longing only started to grow. Loneliness become devouring, and devouring became loneliness. To suffice, I made elaborate despachos that I learned in the Andes from Juan´s and discovered I spoke to trees. What was once considered a crazy myth inside my culture became reality. Spirits walked through my room. Trees talked back. Plants told me secrets, laughed at my ignorance and let me console in them. And all the while, as I went deeper, I hungered for the movement on the projects of my heart - work on sustainability initiatives in the region. I planned and made meetings. I hoped to make friends in the city when I had off-days to go and restock supplies, wondering as I knew, where I could find more a sense of belonging and people to work with in a team. When few appeared, and when meetings were cancelled, weeks turned to months and I retreated to the forest. The forest in the dungeons of my mind became both solace, and place of devouring. Friend and enemy. Just like me.
The forest became personified, anthropomorphized, and a mirror to the wheels of duality that turn us in circles and cycles.
On the second last day before I left (at the time of writing, I had been out for two weeks healing from dengue) we cut down a tree outside the casa grande. I made a despacho to ask it permission. I sat at his base for half an hour before I started and we talked. The immense pashaco negro told me it was over 500 years old. I said he didn't look that old, and he laughed at me, and said "rarely do you humans count the young years when us trees are just sprouts in the shade". I told him we needed to cut him down, that he was probably rotting from the inside and that in a windstorm, if he fell, he could crush and kill us. He laughed again, and said he would fall one day. I began to cry softly at his roots as I asked him to help us, and I prayed for us humans, hoping we could remember some of the good ways we once were and keep all those new lessons we've learned - all to become better. The tree became a symbol of humanity's struggle both against and with nature. As I quieted and listened, he listened back.
Then I prayed that we could survive alongside the breaking-at-the-seams Earth. That we could become stewards of the Earth, and worthy in our culture of eating the Earth's foods, seeds and animals. I started the despacho at his roots in a hole. It took 5 hours to burn to nothingness.
That night I saw a vision in one of my dreams. I was in a house, and I went to look through a window looking-glass. Behind the window was an ogre who deplored me, told me one from a series of holy-people had chosen me. A woman dressed in full Andean paqo robes stood up with her baby, she was elaborately dressed in the finest alpacas and held a magnificent wool accordion with her baby. Her hair glowed as if illuminated. She told me "the sacred is in design". I was surprised, taken aback even, and stood back from the looking glass. When I looked back through, the room was empty. The place where the ensemble of saints and holy people, and the ogre, was shuttered.
The next day when I woke up, the mood was already tense. This tree was massive, and had been on our list of dangerous and risk trees for several months. It needed to come down before the seasonal wind storms arrived, and all five of the forestry experts who had visited us as consultants agreed. It weighed many tones, and had an elegant, but unstable, arching canopy at a 90degree insertion angle to the trunk. It was one of my most studied trees, because I saw it every day from my window and had gone there many times to sit and think. Tiny insect holes bore into the naked trunk. We planned to use all the wood, with no waste. We found later, it was almost hollow inside.
The three men were ready, but obviously on nerve. The work lasted from early morning until dusk. They used heavy-cables to anchor and pull the tree on the desired path, after Miguel climbed over 40m up into the canopy to help secure them. When Claudio started the work on the chain saw, I was asked to leave the house. The risk of the tree falling on the house was not small, but the team were experts, and they knew how to work within risks to find the outcome they needed. This was a job to increase everyone's safety, and the men were serious and respectful. Still, the chance for disaster was very real. The jungle is not predictable or controllable. But there is something in design...
I readied my camera hoping to include the film in our coming documentary on artisanal logging practices here. My tripod and camera were in a far corner, far from where I thought the tree would fall. As Claudio began sawing, Miguel tightened the heavy cables. The tension in the tree shook the canopy. Everyone was praying or smoking Mapacho. Suddenly there was a ripping sound, and the cracking that still to this day fills my bones with the same terror that the ocean did. A clawing terror. The weight of wood falling through wood all falling through heavy air.
The sound of the world falling down.
I watched from a place I had ran to, and saw how the tree did a full 360 rotating from it's breaking weight. It kicked far from is broken pivot and swung towards the house. The falling came. The falling arrived. Right on top of my camera.
I will never know if the images I received when I spoke to plants, like this now fallen tree, were real or figments of my intelligence. How can you know? But many experts say we can indeed communicate with plants (see Stephan Harrod Buhner), and that we can communicate with spirits. When I asked the tree if he was ready to die, there was silence. Acceptance. Neither yes or no, just acceptance. It took me 2 days after the dream I had the night before we cut to realize I was getting a signal: The despacho from the day before had been complete, hence the Andean paqo. The blessing was full: the holy woman was like the mother Mary and her babe. She told me "the sacred is in design". The tree fell and missed our house by meters. No one was injured. My tripod was destroyed, but the camera untouched. The video was not recorded. Testament that perhaps no moment can be captured and replayed, but only experienced.
The terror remained in me for days. The feeling of the wood crashing through wood. The visual of the death. Like many images and smells of my life, especially images of death, my flesh hangs on them. I feel them in my bones, rattling in my dreams. As the tree shows, Death is nothing to be controlled. Not with cables and not with preventatives. When it's your time being close to a hospital will not save. The only way to escape is not to live. The paradox in this is terrifying, and liberating. The tree shook me deeper to my core.
It's no small wonder that since then, the next day after I left, I contracted dengue. It took several days to develop, but it was a fever that entered my body and made all the bones feel as if breaking. It was tiredness so complete I could not even sleep.
As I have laid on my back for the last 10 days, I have been asking myself daily what does it mean to be on the middle way, especially here, as I live in the jungle. The sages have written at length in some of the world´s great philosophies and religions. For me, as I have been painstakingly learning, the middle path is one where hunger is fed by the heart.
Hunger comes from many things: physical needs of the body and spirit, and non-physical desires and disgusts of the ego. My hunger has been both longing and terror. I can not count how many times I wanted to run away from my discoveries here, especially ones about myself. But I knew enough that if I ran, I would arrive again, exactly where I left-off.
Instead, I have to face it. Accept it. Hold duality as close as I can, right to my heart.
It is here, in the heart, it can be held in the wisdom of compassion. In compassion we are wise, in the heart we are present. From this place we can act wise, and build a culture that feeds.
I don't know how long it will take to fully live these teachings. Or how long it will take till I can hold my terror and my longing, just as peacefully as the mother paqo held her babe. I don't know if I ever will. But I can not run.
And so, as the trees live and fall in the forest, I stay to listen.
The rotting insides of the Pashaco, cut and ready to be lumbered...
Proof to me that my camera could still capture beautiful images, even after a tree fell on top of it (a picture of Orchids we cultivated at Canto Luz)
Miguel climbs to the top limbs, 40m above the forest floor.
The elegant canopy of the Pashaco, before he fell.
The team holds a moment with the camera in between their silent reflections on the felling of the great Pashaco negro.


Los Nietos - an amazonian food forest.

For 3 months the chakra lay dormant waiting for us. The clearing work was done in November 2015 on lands of our neighbor. It was not that we have no land for planting. Rather, we are guardians of primary forest and our neighbour's once agricultural land is more ecologically suitable for food forests. (In Peruvian Spanish chakra means a cleared space used for growing food).
The first time I saw the land, I gulped. As if the jungle was creeping back in, the wild-plants were growing again, and there was a lot of woody debris to navigate. The task of planting our Food Forest was going to be tough. We would place over 300 plants with 32 different species of fruit, vegetable, flower, medicine, bean, dye and fiber bearing plants in a span of just 2 weeks.
Come rain, shine or insect, the foundations for a food forest would be born.
To be charged with so much life is not something I take lightly. The ecological toll for clearing land, as well as the life of all the baby trees is serious business. I thought the rainy season would pass fast this year. El Niño always brings unpredictable weather, especially in Peru – droughts here, floods there. Our part of the amazon is wet in February, but the last strong el Niño year rains were short and there was drought. This year I worried we were too late to plant the trees.
But we set-up carefully. Not only do we use ecological principles and design practices, but we also welcomed a group of volunteer professionals to help us plant.
Our volunteers Hannah, Vince and GaChing arrived first, followed by Shane. Along with these volunteers, local workers were busy helping to remove leftover woody debris so we could walk unencumbered through the plot.  Our food forest is about a ½ hectare, which sounds big.  It is actually “human-sized”, manageable with just a few pairs of hands and lots of sweat.
Ecologically we planned this food forest to manage soil. Forest soil in the Amazon is tricky and has a fertility that deceives. Voracious growth of plants, abundant water and beating sun are not all that they seem: nutrition for growth is locked up in the plants themselves and only released in a complicated cycle of decay. Here a cleared area has a couple of years of fertility, but if you don't protect and build soils, a farm will fail or require chemical inputs. No thanks.
When we cleared, we didn't burn. High oxygen burning, common to this part of the amazon, releases vital minerals like a big bang, and scorches all bacteria and fungal networks that help with nutrient cycling. When rain comes the nutrients are washed away, leaving empty sands and clays, and no top-soil to grow life.
As we cleared we left green-plant material on top of the soil right where it lay. The idea of this "green mulch" is to slowly decompose and maintain water in the soil. When the powerful Equatorial sun comes after the rainy season, we hope it will do just that.
We also utilized woody material. We have made hugelkulture-like beds of large sticks that over the next several years will decompose with termite action. Under the weight of green material that we will place there these piles will become a repository for black soil... one day at least - we just have to be patient. How patient? We are not sure. It's a theoretical experiment we are basing on the black- organic rich soils (Tierra del monte) that are found around decaying tree logs in the jungle. These wood piles also provide spaces for small creatures to set up home.We did not pile all of our woody material because there was a lot of it. Some of it was burned in small piles, and the ash we saved and put in our aging compost pile with local Guinea pig manure, goat manure, and humanure. In a year this will be lunch for the hungry tropical trees.
Then we got busy planning. Vince, a soil expert, helped us map the soil at the chakra. We found there was mostly suitable soil, but quickly ran into a challenge – nearly half of the chakra was water-logged for part of the year, meaning that most species would wither and die from too much water. The question was whether to make a canal and try to remove water. In the end we decided to favor the water as it is. We planted palm fruits to mimic the watery palm groves found throughout the jungle, and would plant other local water-loving species, too. Nature knows, just follow.
Dealing with so much organic matter is an important task in the jungle soil cycle - this photo demonstrates the types of soil management we chose.
the soil found at one of the soil test sites - sandy-clay loam with topsoil -- better than we thought.
Don Ancillmo piles wood. a lot of wood! The wood is from fast-growing colonizer species (mostly cecropia), which began to grow after our neighbour left his cleared land fallow.
An aguajal is a natural wet place where palms rich with fruit grow.
We were ready to find the plants - Sourcing plants is no problem here as this region is garden central! We visited the local reforestation organization ARBIO to get advice and find plants – frijol de palo (a nitrogen fixing bean tree), moringa (the superfood salad green) and the tasty fruit trees cacao and copoazu (a local relative of cacao!). Luckily through our talks, we learned it may actually be (weather cooperating) the perfect time to plant. We hope for rain.Then we went to the local market and found even more trees and shrubs. Achiote for red dye and smudging… well-known fruits like avocado, starfruit, pineapple, mango, passionfruit, lemon and orange... as well as local fruit specialities like anona (DELICOUS!), araza, casharana, bread fruit, vitamin-c rich camu camu, and the cheesy flavoured noni fruit, which is very healthy.  We also found flowers like toé, and medicinal plants like coca, tobacco, turmeric, ginger and lemon grass.
bananas travel upriver with us from Puerto Arturo
Claudio helps transport some of the plants we found - others we will start from seed and cutting.
A jungle style nursery helps shield seedlings from the harsh sun.
Meanwhile we visited our neighbours, and in the native community of Puerto Arturo we found yuca and bananas. Mariluz, Canto Luz staff, helped us find two types of wild taro root – this delicious tuber in the araceae family is boiled and becomes starchy just like a potato. We also were able to plant local varieties of cucumber and pumpkin.

Our favourite addition to our plant list however was planted by a wild-gardener. Imagine our surprise when in the middle of the chakra we found papaya growing! Who did it? It turns out the tayra, a wild weasel relative and omnivore, has a taste for ripe papaya, and while roaming the Amazonian countryside it defecates papaya seed from its previous meals! This happened through our chakra evidently, and we hope it will come again and again and again.

The Tayra - a wild species that loves papaya, and is not endangered.
When we were ready to start the planting we put up a tent to protect the tools and compost. The compost was a mix of gathered forest soil collected from a rotting log, and types of manure and charcoal. We were ready to plant. Using our tree map we staked out the tree locations, planning for their eventual height, canopy size and maturation time.
But it had not rained for nearly a week.
The work was so hot, and we agreed that even by starting work in the early morning we couldn’t imagine putting new plants into soil under such hot sun. The thought made us all take a swig of water and ponder hard. The best plan was to start in the evening.
It was a good choice - Imagine the joy of beginning work hours before sunset when all of the sudden a gentle, cool rain begins. The new plants shone brilliant green, especially while we sang songs for them as they entered the ground.
We finished planting 3 days later in perfect timing because each day it rained. The rain allowed our freshly dug plants to drink, and set their roots in. Throughout the days, they each seemed perky with hydration, and some of the banana plants even started sending out leaves.
A compost mix - used to topdress fresh plantings.
A finished map of the chakra (just missing the yuca).
Our jungle tool shed protects the compost from rain and sun.
hannah and vince mark plant locations and bring mulch for new plantings.
Rain makes everything seem more connected.
a demonstration of our complete planting method: sapote with mulch, compost top dressing and a stake to mark its placement, to prevent us losing it when the jungle starts to grow again.
Now that we have finished planting, our next steps will be to continually care for this chakra until the plants age and plan other activities in relation to this work.

The day before we finished all our work we made an Andean despacho with the help of Juan's father and Q'ero nation resident Lorenzo. When Lorenzo asked what we named the chakra, I told him, "se llama Los Nietos - it´is called the grandchildren", and then I recalled a conversation I had with a neighbour. The neighbor asked why we did not plant faster growing food crops like rice or corn, and instead fruit trees that could take years to produce well. The reality is a fruit tree project is one for future generations. Of course we expect to eat from it, but the best years will be down the road. "Los Nietos" is quite literally for the grandchildren - both human and animal.

So, here is to food that feeds the future, and also to many more years of good work in this chakra! We hope you can come visit. The papaya should be giving fruit in a few months... but you may have to share with the tayra!


This post was published in March of 2016, just after we finished the work. We are happy to report that so much has grown and flourished. almost all the plants have survived the dry season, however a noni, a moringa, all the granadillas died. We nearly had a forest fire, but the rain came just in the nick of time, and somehow cows arrived from nearly 3km away, and ate one banana before we chased them off. The chakra has a lot of wood and medicinal "volunteers", that is plants who grow on their own accord. One of the most prolific is the sangre de grado, a powerful medicinal used for wound healing, as well as disentry. We have produced tomatoes, cucumbers, papaya, moringa, squash and some medicinal herbs. It looks like all is going well, and the rainy season is coming again


Homo Luminous

i have been discovering old poems, here is one i wrote in 2007.

 In a wild world, bourn Wild from sprouting seeds
holding ancient memories of ritual human deeds,
we were each cast by spirals of DNA
Twisting like snakes
Made for remembering
where we come from,
and where we are going through Kundalini arising.

To remember what wildness we hold,
we must be bold:
First we ask for and listen to the whispers of ancients
illuminating exactly what we need,
for in the strands of ourselves we will see,
a DNA template to activate, assisting us through everything.

Human beings are sleeping cacoons
waiting for transformation, and soon to swoon
like butterflies.
Path into the Heart of Things we can go,
up on human wings that will soon unfold,
Our power balanced
with the sweet fragrance of remembrance.

The thriving fabric of existence,
is in our persistence
to remember that our bodies are bridge between the worlds
The one that cradles us,
and the spirit filled dream world that leads us to worlds untold.

Humanity, we take up our role in the Heart's Hearth,
and come into belonging.
We are the saviours of ourselves from our long history of our grief and longing
to be together, in community,
because the vibrant village heart is one of immunity.

Hear children of Earth and beat the drum for our ecological way,
so that those still sleeping
will stir awake.

photo: Mark Henson "La Semillera"

Climate of Shift

i have been discovering old poems, here is one i wrote in 2007.

from space they say you can see her face
the face all scarred and oozing
black of blood born from the backs of
dinosaurs and carboniferous forests
so ancient you wouldn't know
when we drove to work this morning
we were burning 1 million years of history
vaporized into the atmosphere
some scientists say it will be misery
if the temperature rises just 4 degrees
ice caps melting and raising seas
some call it global warming, see
I call it intense climate unpredictability
complexity with non-linear affects
so that we haven't quite grasped the consequences yet,
and the irony is that while we battle to grapple
if its happening or not
our chance to respond is a whole lot
less, because lack of action
puts immense pressure on our chests
and implies that to wrestle
this beast down to the ground
means we'd have to turn our whole ship around
from the edge of some sort of "can't go back zone"
where there is no replay or harmonizing tone
so if oil is one way we power our destruction
climate is the monkey on the back that fuels our
of a different model
funnel the oil money into better ways to save tomorrow

photo: New Pioneers by Mark Henson



I ache for what my spirit is becoming. 
As if I could know,
if a bird aches to hatch,
as if it knows
what it means to fly.


Perú en Tres Partes - 1st short stories in Spanish

Las Ventanas y Elefantes del Perú
Pongamos las cosas en orden. Es una historia sin inicio, claro, pero necesito empezar en algún lugar. Los pasos son como piedras de paso, 
pero solamente en retrospectiva que pudieran tener sentido. 
Puedo empezar la cuenta hace 7 años, o hace un mes. Da igual. 

En el desierto de España cuando hacía sol cada día, llegue. Estaba yo allá por razón de un sueño de noche que tuve. El sueño que todavía me hace sudar con calor, posibilidad y miedo: la cara de un lobo, Los jardines de un mundo mejor. El sueño me preguntó
-¿¡Sabes cómo callarte y escuchar?!-

Pero te digo, en España, temblé de depresión. Sabía que había una razón para estar en España, especialmente después de los sueños. Y de verdad, lo quería más que todo, pero en los momentos de la depresión sin final: nada tenía sentido. No podía ver el futuro, pero tenía la sensación de estar creándolo.

-¿Cómo se puede crear lo que no se puede ver? ¡Qué paradoja!- me pregunté.

No podía levantarme de la cama. Cada día había un elefante sentado en mí pecho. Deseaba ver 
“el por qué”, pero no podía aguantar el peso.

-¿A dónde fue mi autoestima?- y me di cuenta: fuera de la ventana.

-Ayúdenme – pensé, a nadie y a todas. De la desesperación sufría, mudándome en círculos. -¿Qué pasará?- pregunté al mundo –no tengo ninguna dirección-.

-Ven a Perú, dama bonita- me respondió la voz de una amiga –Constrúyanos un buen bosque comestible-.  Ella rió de la simplicidad. No era algo simple.

-¿Cómo?- me lamenté, si fuera una tocadiscos rota. 

Vino el próximo sueño: tres abejas y una frase –presta atención, Cassandra. Esto tiene significado tan importante-. El sueño desapareció, y en su lugar me dejó una esperanza.

-¿Puede ser que estoy aquí para ir allá? ¿A Perú?-. No podría saber. Miré por la ventana.

Practiqué español si estuviera practicando por un concierto. A veces con ruido, con la gente corriendo por las colinas. A veces más suavemente: la lengua salvaje y los hispanohablantes vinieron para escuchar. Él me enseñó un montón. Mientras yo practicaba, llegue a la cruce para ver si la dirección era más clara. Vi en sueño un camino en frente y los verdes diferentes de la jungla. Con hambre en mi mente, las ganas me levantaron, y estaba justo en ese momento que el elefante salió.

Los mapas se estiraron en frente de mí, ubicando el camino. El hocico del jaguar me besó con la explosión de la jungla. En sueño volé como el pájaro. Y sin fuego, sin celebración, soñé todos los colores del camino en frente: la escuela natural, el árbol de cacao y Juan, quién me dijo –he vivido muchas vidas.-

Las noches de sueño y la dirección del día se mezclaban juntos en un arco iris que vi encima de Puerto Maldonado. Por fin, todo tenía sentido cuando los verdes diferentes me pasaban y se convirtieron en la jungla y sus oportunidades. Las que se puede ver solamente en retrospectiva, después de una vida hecha por paseos, hecha de pasos sobre piedras, y después de llevar a un elefante. 

Pero no hay elefantes aquí en las junglas de Perú, ni ventanas tampoco.  

San Pedro
Las nubes prometían lluvia cuando cruzábamos la plaza de armas. Un Husky saltó a un lado de la fuente y Fernando me preguntó si conocía a Misha.
-Nunca- le dije.
Fernando empezó a explicar su relación con el Husky, que desapareció en la jungla solo hace 4 semanas. Empecé de cruzar la calle, pero él quedó, como si estuviera en sus propios pensamientos. Todavía recordaba el día que recibió la llamada.
–Estaba en el cemetario con un estudiante- me dijo, casi riendo –qué sitio, ¿no?- podía ver sus emociones mientras caminábamos hacía el mercado.
-¿Lloraste?- le pregunté. –Sí- me dijo y me mostró su tatuaje del otro Husky Sasha, al que tuvo antes de Misha.
Sascha y Misha eran como niños para Fernando. Él me parecía un poco triste todavía, pero quizás por vergüenza, su atención haya cambiado hacia el mercado. –Mira, este mercado fue…- pero lo paré.
-Gracias por compartir- le dijo, mis manos en su pecho. No sé si fuera así, pero me pareció que lo necesitaba y continuó con más de la historia. Empezó de llover, así que cuando llegamos estábamos listos para entrar.
Vi los colores de las tejidas colgados en la entrada. Noté las piedras del suelo y Fernando me dijo que el mercado tenía casi cien años. Eran suaves y muy gastados. ¿Pueden ser piedras de las construcciones antiguas de las incas?
Paramos para nombrar las frutas y no vi ninguna nueva, pero tuvimos una mini lección de los tipos diferentes de plátanos. Mientras él me contaba de su familia me preguntaba a mi misma sobre las familias y niños que crecen en el mercado. Cuantos niños hay de los trabajadores del mercado de San Pedro. Él me habló de las tradiciones de los trabajadores allá y notó que muchas eran mujeres. –Como mí mami- sonrió Fernando.
Pude oler las carnes y vi a la gente vendiendo la leche fresca, reciamente hervida esa mañana. Toqué el material de una manta. – ¡Qué colores!- pensé. Le señalé un cactus de San Pedro, y hablamos de los orígenes de las cosas en el mercado. Cuando nos acercamos a la entrada, supe que Fernando tenía que irse.
Me sentí agradecida con Fernando por mostrarme el mercado y le di las gracias a él por la tarde juntos. Cuando nos separamos, el cielo se había puesto más oscuro. La noche llegaba. Subí los 545 peldaños a mi casa, paso a paso con paciencia. La que necesito para aprender español en la manera que espero.
Al final empezó la lluvia con fuerza.

Lo blanco. Lo negro.
A menos que quieras conocer a un espíritu, no te vayas para un cemetario en Latina América, donde los vivos y los muertos existen al mismo tiempo.

El grupo de siete músicos marchaban al redor de las tumbas de los difuntos. Dos hijos jugaban entre los pisos de sus ancestros. Era la segunda vez que estaba en un cemetario aquel día. El cemetario de San Jeronimo tenía flores en cada dirección. Hacia arriba, vi las lapidas con flores cortadas. Y por todos lados las flores de las tumbas de los pobres en el suelo crecían como si fueran cultivados por amor. Pero las flores en todos los rincones sugerían que fueran por destino. Quizás los espíritus sean en un conjunto con los vivos, por qué solo las fuerzas de la naturaleza con la mano de los vivos podrían esculpir algo tan bonito.

En el cemetario de Almudena, vimos a un hombre. El cortaba una caja de seguridad para que pudiera entrar. Se agachaba encima de la caja, limándola imperturbablemente. En la cripta más antigua había velas negras derretidas en el concreto. Después reflexionábamos sobre la magia negra y Fernando me dijo que pensaba que el hombre que vimos no era un hombre. Con un sentimiento distinto de escalofríos, no sabía que debía pensar. Pero si tuviera otra oportunidad miraría al hombre con el gorro raro por más tiempo.

Ni que en contrario a las velas y el hombro que quería entrar, el papi de Juan nos dijo de una mariposa blanca que vivía en la tumba incorrecta de su madre, Matilde Flores. La mariposa blanca quería salir. Y si puedes creer en la magia entre los muertos y vivos, es posible imaginarte una mariposa volando por voluntad para separarse desde los huesos de Matilde Flores hacia la tumba de su hermano. Es que no le enterraron ella como ella pidió, al lado de su hermano. Pero después de la mariposa blanca, nadie podía creer en ninguna otra posibilidad: había un milagro. ¡Mudar los huesos! ¡Celebrar los difuntos!

Para distinguir las diferencias entre los muertos y los vivos, no te vayas a los cemetarios de Latina América. Lo blanco de los deseos de ellos es que quieren descansar, y lo negro es que no pueden. Son notas de la misma canción, donde los niños y los ancestros bailan juntos al compaz de la banda.


Ecoforestry Insights & Stewardship in the Jungle

The tree house of Canto Luz, in Madre de Dios, Peru.
photo: Maria Garnet

For two years now, I have been wondering what role humans can have in positively affecting ecosystems. I am trying to put all the pieces of my passion and training in ecology, sustainability & permaculture into work experiences and living opportunities.

Last year, I was invited to help design and initiate the eco-forestry based food-fibre-fuel and medicine forest for a 600 hectare project in the Amazon of Peru - this blog will be an online space to share the experiences  learning, living and working in these places I am becoming part of around South America. These are aspects of projects who are working towards a sustainable vision for humans in tropical jungles -
In my separate jungle blog, I will share my experiences about the challenges, successes and dreams of people in the projects I am working with during the next 6 months and beyond. I am sure during writing that I will be coloured with a foreigner's perspective, being that I am in a very new landscape and culture - I hope this is amusing and useful for you - but I also hope to bring in other perspectives, too.

As always, I will be sharing poems when they come to me, pictures where I can load them, and offering some inspired essays and reports on the possibilities of strategic social and ecological sustainability, rooted in community based efforts for ecosystem stewardship and the creation of thriving well-being.

For this 6-month journey, I am packing a small typing instrument, so I can easily record updates about ideas, poems and projects that I am working with. I will be living primarily in places "off-the-grid", and being removed from both electricity and internet I will make postings - sometimes pulsed out on masse - when I am in towns.
Please stay posted with me.  

You can see all the updates here: http://earthfullcircle.blogspot.ca