Lapetania, Rondonia, Brazil (Surui, Aquaverde)

Visiting the Amazon is something I’d always dreamed about from the stories of my friends, but couldn’t see logically how it would ever happen. So years later when I found myself swimming in the rio branco with my new Surui friends, I was reminded of the expression “never fear to dream too big”… And that’s what these Indigenous leaders are doing too, they’re daring to dream big, they are risking their lives to save their future generations (and surely ours as well). Tragically many tribal activists have been killed even since we last were there. But they keep the faith that change is coming, that out there, there are people who care and value them as guardians of these precious forest habitats. When Almir the Surui tribal leader took me for a walk through a large rolling hill area of his ancestral land that had been cut down by illegal loggers. He opened his arms big and wide and said with a big childlike smile “all this we will call the “Grace forest!” What an honor! Still grinning he said “So you can tell our story to your musical community and invite them to plant trees in this forest for the survival of guardians of the forest”. So here, I invite you, brothers and sister of this precious planet earth, come plant a tree in the Grace forest for the survival of these earth keepers and know that “It’s not “CAN we make a difference in the world?” It’s “We DO make a difference in the world!”

This hope that the Surui carry was so moving in fact that it reminded me of one of my favorite mythical spirits, the phoenix bird rising from its ashes, rejuvenation, rebirth, new strength against all odds we persevere… I thought I sure could embody some of that spirit myself these days, and so right there in the forest Jerome started to record on a lap top, with the sound of the soft jungle rain on the thatched roof and the wild birds screeching, how perfect.