For a brief moment, I didn’t want to leave Laraos.
It meant leaving Senor Mako, who I had grown to adore. But, more importantly, it meant the last day of the journey. The Pacific coast was less than a day’s cycle, and from there we could go no further.
But it was time. And, though part of me did not want this to end, another part was grateful that it was nearly all over. Transamazonica has been, without a doubt, one of the toughest expeditions I’ve ever undertaken in my life, both physically and emotionally.
The downhills were long and spectacular, transforming from arid mountains to swelling foothills to dry desert to coastline. We seemed to reach the latter in no time at all.
Pip and I sat on the cliff overlooking the ocean while pelicans swooped above. We did not talk. We had no need to. Instead, we gazed out silently, lost in our own thoughts. We had made it. It was over.
And, even though it was over, I could not get the Amazon out of my head. I know I will not be able to for a long while yet.
I came to the Amazon with a question – is there a solution to the destruction of the lungs of the planet?
With each pedal stroke, I experienced more and more sad stories of logging, of dam-building, of cattle-ranching and of gold-mining, and I often lost any hope for the Amazon.
But some of the people we met along the way – the Japanese in Tome Acu, the cattle ranchers who farmed sustainably, those behind the eco-tourist lodges – they all gave me hope. For all of their projects were economically viable and made sense. If only more and more people began to think of generating income through sustainable sources, then the rainforest might just survive.
I remembered something Pip once said. “We need to make the trees worth more alive than dead.”
That, I think, is the crux of it. Sustainability doesn’t work in isolation, it must go hand in hand with economic incentives. The only way forward is to make it economically wise for people to protect their forest, and economically unwise for people to destroy it.
Check back in tomorrow for the blog I couldn’t publish at the time – Day 30 …