I am grateful for this invitation. I wish to share here my experience in the Amazonia and how, without a doubt, it enchanted me.
My work in the jungle began in 2009, the year I produced a documentary called “Sentires del Perú: El Niño en la Amazonía.” After I finished this project, I returned to Lima, my hometown, where, in my dreams, I would hear the aboriginal calls, their music, and even the íkaros(healing shamanic chants). However, I still thought they were only dreams. I then went to Cuzco to continue my investigations on popular festivities.
(All images in this article were created using Fujifilm X-Pro2).
It was here that I had my first encounter with a shaman and with the very popular master plant ayahuasca. The ancestral nature of this plant always inspired in me a special respect towards it, but I decided to experience my first ceremony: it was fascinating and beautiful for the images and spiritual connections it revealed to me. I felt then that I had to go back to the jungle.
I share all this information because I wish to communicate the spiritual perspective that led me to a more profound study and interpretation of the Amazonian cosmovision. Thanks to this perspective, I have been able to give additional meaning to my shots. My photography, my desire to show the contents of daily life in the jungle, seeks to capture the juxtaposition of the beautiful and the challenging, as the struggle to resist annihilation is also part of this environment.
The Peruvian jungle reveals to us an undiscovered world. Its wilderness, ravines and fantastic cataracts make this jungle beautiful and full of knowledge in regards to healthy and natural lifestyles. This bit of the lung of the world uncovers new protagonists today: its settlers, children of the oldest ethnic groups. They preserve the knowledge of a life in harmony with nature, not only as a resource for survival, but also as enjoyment for them and the whole of humanity.
However, to be in the jungle also presents a challenge. Among all that magic and beauty, one can see the neglect and the predatory hand of those who threaten the ecosystems, and who, ironically, are the same people trying to survive in it each day thanks to the jungle’s own restoring force.
That is why we celebrate the role of the young indigenous students, settlers of the flora and fauna, who promote the control of mother earth over this Amazonia, and who continue battling to stop the destruction of the ecosystems.
In the Amazonia National Intercultural University’s campus, in Pucallpa, where I conducted my graphic work during three months, a beautiful botanical garden harbors over 200 species of medicinal plants. In addition, students of 22 different Amazonian cultures learn, in this university facility, about the new technologies concerning the management of the Amazonia.
One of the two hundred medicinal plants in this garden is the one previously mentioned, ayahuasca, and its twin sister, chacruna. Through their use, shamans retrieve information from the spirit of the plants to heal their patients, as they try to penetrate and influence their patient’s recondite visions. The experience is unique and magically spiritual.
In the Peruvian jungle exist more than forty indigenous cultures located in different areas, seventeen of which are native of the Ucayali region. This diversity of cultures brings forth a movement called The New Identity, defined as an endless game in which the teaching and learning of different cultures results in new identities.
The interaction between celestial bodies, plants, animals and the popular actors, such as the shamans and the indigenous people gives this place and the experience of it a somewhat mystical quality. Learning to survive there, using the natural resources, coexisting with the natives of this enchanting place promotes a deeper understanding of the Amazonian cosmovision, a view that would prompt anyone to reflect upon the jungle’s preservation.
My return to Pucallpa was one of the best experiences I’ve had, a spell from nature indeed, which amuses my senses, dazzles my spirit, and brings me back to life.