When we think of the Amazon rainforest, we tend conjure up images of vibrant plants and exotic animals. But in addition to the captivating scenes of nature, there’s much more: community and people. We asked Evan Delahanty, founder of Peaceful Fruits - our Ecuador trip sponsor - what he cherished most in his two years living in the Amazon while serving in the Peace Corp and here’s what he said.
What is the Amazon like?
The rainforest has a vibrancy that can’t be explained in words. It’s so green, so alive – and so jarring when you see a place where it’s been damaged. I lived about 2 hours (by boat) up the Suriname River, in virgin rainforest on the tribal lands of the Saramaccan Maroons. Minimal electricity, no running water, and thatched roof huts – I actually slept in a hammock for 2 years!
What did you like most about living there when you were in the Peace Corp?
My two favorite things were the commute and the people. Going to another village or traveling back and forth to the city was slow and sometimes difficult, but to me it was a joy – seeing the rainforest around me made me so proud and in awe of our world.
The other thing is the community. In my village, I was appreciated primarily not because I came with outside resources or dollars, but because I was a neighbor. I’ll never forget once asking an elder if it was ok for me to participate in a ceremony and his response was simple, “Don’t you live here?” To be fully valued and appreciated simply as a person and a member of the community, not as a transaction or vehicle, was one of the most life-affirming things I’ve ever felt.
What is the biggest lesson that living in South America has taught you?
People are people, approach them with an open heart and an open mind. Give more to get more. Always carry wet wipes!
What are you most looking forward to about the Traverse Journeys Amazon Encounter Ecuador trip?
Having more people experience the sheer natural power of the Amazon and getting reconnected to nature is so amazing to see and be part of. Seeing the rainforest and getting to know the people who live there – in balance with nature – is something that can’t help but make people challenge their assumptions and understanding of the world in an incredibly healthy and vibrant way.