Location: Peruvian Amazon, South America
All of us pursue happiness, whatever this means to each person: security, love, success… My own pursuit of happiness –incorporated into my Doctoral studies at the time– took me to the Peruvian Amazon basin which I have always dreamt about. As someone who loves nature, I felt like Alice in Wonderland – the multitude of sounds, sights and smells, with bizarre creatures at every level left me dizzy in wonderment just standing in the middle of the rainforest and taking it all in. There in the Amazon jungle I experienced the powerful energy of the trees, first coming across the biggest tree I have ever seen, and then learning about the plants and animals from the local Shaman. My understanding of the connectedness of all living things culminated when I took part in the sacred Ayahuasca ceremony which involves the Ayahuasca vine (the master plant of the jungle) prepared and administered by the Shaman.
This picture was taken in the Peruvian Amazon basin at the very moment when I first came across and was in absolute amazement of the largest tree I have ever seen. My professional camera and lens could not capture it in its entirety, but more importantly, the power and energy of the tree were pulling me toward it to embrace it and become one with it.
Following my work in the Peruvian Amazon basin during my Doctoral studies, I developed an affiliation with the small, beautiful and friendly country of Costa Rica which is known for ecotourism and high success rate with a variety of tried sustainable approaches. My networking and consulting work in Costa Rica inspired me to create an ecotourism adventure travel company (Ecotours-by-Agnes) that is one of its kind. I wanted to remain true to the principles of social and environmental sustainability, not just as a marketing strategy, but more importantly I wanted to share with other travellers the places which inspired my transformative experiences in hopes of their magic having the same effect on other visitors.
My work in Costa Rica took me there four times in 2011 spending a total of six months. While in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, during my last stay working with a local Foundation on developing an Environmental Education Curriculum for elementary schools, I experienced more natural and personal wonders which have reinforced my connection to nature. Perhaps the most insightful thought when thinking of trees and our connection to all nature comes from the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh who states, “We have learned the lesson that when we perpetrate violence towards our own and other species, we are violent towards ourselves; and when we know how to protect all beings, we are protecting ourselves.”
Agnes Nowaczek, Ph.D is the owner of Ecotours-by-Agnes. Visit www.ecotoursbyagnes.com for more information. She organizes trips to Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and South Africa.