Eat or be Eaten…. The Amazon Jungle.

“I don’t want to scare you,” I was told. The bus was nearing the end of our seven hour bus journey from Quito, the capital city of Ecuador in South America. “Don’t go out alone. And when you get to the bus station, go straight to the taxi.” He was a military guy returning to duty on the nearby Columbian border. “Terrorists” he had explained in our earlier chat over the journey. “Cross the border, we shoot them.”

Despite his day job, he seemed a likeable sort of guy. So in a calm but focused acceptance of this seemingly qualified advice, I headed straight to the first exit. There was one problem. In my haste, I had taken a side exit. I suddenly found myself on an isolated dark street. Not what I had expected. Nor the situation you want in any city, let alone one with this reputation. Not a taxi in sight. Fortunately though, one wasn’t far away.

Lago Agrio is a sort of a gateway last point of civilization before the Amazon. I’d heard similar warnings about this town. I therefore accepted an evening walk, particularly at night, was clearly not an option. Interestingly, on enquring where to eat, without hesitation, the hotel manager turned up to drive me to a restaurant. “So this place is pretty dangerous,” I said with an air of informed certainty.

Turns out the opinon of those in the local tourism and hospitality industry is quite at contrast. But go back about ten years they agree, it was everything but safe. That all came to an end, as the story goes, when gorilla fighters from across the Columbian border decided to take the law into their own hands. Anyone outside of an imposed curfew was shot. No questions asked. It took a week of “cleaning up” apparently and the town has never looked back!!

It’s a strange trait of human nature. On one hand we go to extraordinary lengths to offer compassion and help to our fellow human beings. We create social communities that support each other. Yet on the other hand we have this extreme destructive capacity to seek and destroy each other.

No where else could that be so evident as in nature. Particularly the Amazon Jungle. Step into this truly amazing yet mysterious part of our planet and discover some of the most incredible interconnected forces of nature. An amazingly intricate web of indescribable intelligence between so many diverse facets of nature, whether trees, animals, bugs, insects, bacteria, fungi, etc. Where survival is eat or be eaten. Yet at the same time there’s an enormous display of cooperation between the different elements of nature.

Now I’ll admit I’m not normally a bird watching tree hugging sort of bloke. But to spend several days deep in the Amazon with one of the local indigenous people, as he not only spots the tiniest creature a mile off but rattles off the name of every variety, was impressive. And to have explained so many examples of how nature works together to protect against nature’s aggressors.

Like my favourite. The woodpecker. He doesn’t make the hole for his nest. He just starts it. He comes back later after fungi has taken over to enlarge the hole. And formed in such a way to keep the aggressors from the young’ns. And when woody wood pecker has finished nesting, he hands it over to the owl. By then a bigger hole. Who would have guessed!

And as well to hear how other indigenous locals describe their home as not just a jungle of trees but as a living spirit of energy, almost people like as one explained. But more so to gain just a small appreciation of the amazing world we live in. And none more so incredible than the Amazon Jungle.

But one question you still haven’t answered Mr Luis: Do the likes of trees have their own form of intelligence or are they each so incredibly genetically wired to be able to react and respond to all the many unpredictable forces of nature?

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