I remember watching The Motorcycle Diaries in high school and feeling a deep calling to journey around the world in a similar way. This 3,800 kilometer trip by road/boat from the South of Brazil up to the Amazon River, alongside Luma - someone who has felt like home since before I even met her - feels like the ultimate manifestation of that. Today, and every day, I Give Thanks to the land.
Yesterday, Luma and I arrived at the first stop along our journey to Amazonas - in Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul.
(Screenshot via the Native Land app)
I initially dismissed it as a sleepy ranching town, and it started to storm rain when we arrived which didn't make for the most promising afternoon. More or less couped up inside, I started getting in my feels at being by the Paraguayan border - land that has a very special place in my heart. "Luma & I were on the bus for 14 hours and now we're in this (very very sleepy) town an hour from the Paraguayan border!! It's raining...like a lot. and not at all glamorous, but being here is making me very sentimental. My first international trip ever (after immigrating to America) was as a youth ambassador to Paraguay back in 2013. I'd just gotten my US citizenship, and at the naturalization ceremony they gave out this pamphlet w links to all these resources & thru those I found this youth ambassador program that sent high school students to less commonly traveled countries for cultural exchanges (a program which has since been fully defunded). And so began my love affair with adventures.
I think a lot about how politiks determine our mobility. I wouldn't have been able to have that experience prior to getting this Lil blue booklet that said I was now 'American' and could move more freely around the world. And now I'm here, right near the border, but can't drive over bc I don't Have a stamp in my passport that says I can. And the only reason I've been able to come to Brazil is bc Bolsonaro & Tr*mp are friends and lifted visa requirements earlier this year...Anyway, Paraguay is very Mf cute. It's the only truly bilingual country in the world, with over 90% of the population speaking both Spanish + the indigenous language of Guaraní (!!) I just looked it up, wanting to share some more info about the Guaraní on this post & discovered that the largest Native reservation in Brazil is located here, in Dourados!!! We are going to go visit the cultural center there and I will share more on Patreon !! 💌"
(and here I am 😁)
Discovering that this 'sleepy' town was home to the largest Indian reservation in Brazil was..certainly a plot twist considering it was not at all on our radar! How many people even know that First Nations people in South America have been cordoned off to reservations - just like in North America? I recall feeling a bit jarred by that realization yesterday. And it made me think about the prophecy of the Eagle of the Condor, which proclaims that Indigenous people from North and South America will join to reunite + liberate Turtle Island. (Asé) This is something I want to reflect + write more about. Where do people from Africa, and descendents of slavery, fit in to the prophecy? Currently, I feel our duty is to all unite in the name of the land. Do work to uncover the history of the land we occupy and pass through, speak with the people there (with reparative intention), and acknowledge both the harmony *and harm* that underscores our respective relationships to the Land.
Luma and I spent the afternoon on Reserva Indigena Bororo and...the downloads were a plenty. We met a group of kids who were highkey fascinated with our skin/clothes and gave us mangos from this tree that was bearing PURPLE FRUIT!
Everything was so GREEN from the rain. The woman who gave us a ride back to the main road in her horse cart told us that it was the first heavy rains here they've had in nearly 6 months (that very rain that I, as a traveler + not of this land, initially felt disappointed by!) Later, when we got back to our hostel, Luma told me that she got goosebumps when Andrea said that because the Orisha who protects her, Nãnã, is the ruler of the rain.....
We walked for around 3km, and I couldn't stop thinking about how much the soil looked the same as the one on my own land, in Kenya. There is something truly sacred that connects all of us who are from places with soil of this color.
What I yearn to dig deeper into in this trip is...what exactly that sacred thing is, and how to activate it. I want to dig into the coexisting realities that surround communities that are still living with + for the land, and find a way to make sense of the paradoxes. There is a lot of joy, yes. One reality is that the people we encountered are living in fertile soil, in an agricultural utopia much like the one that back-to-the-land organizers in cities aspire towards. The people there live together - genuinely live and interact and socialize together - their soil is red and their plants gleam a green I have not seen anywhere else in my travels. Another reality, is that they have been routinely targeted for the past 500 years and had their land stolen to the point of having been cornered into reservations - on a land that was once entirely their own!!! That their sustainable ways of being with and for the land, are incompatible with the extractive and unsustainable settler state.
There is a lot I am processing, and don't have the words to fully articulate yet. But we're back on the road now. Driving past acres and acres of what should be - and what IS - Bororo/Guaraní land that is instead occupied by corporate farms and colonial ranches. My heart is sincerely aflame, being made aware of how backwards and destructive and wholly unnecessary the present reality is.
I pray, with fortitude, that I may live to see the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor realized. Until then, I Give Thanks for every moment spent learning more about the land through connecting with its people. And I give thanks to each of you for following along + supporting this journey!
Always Yours in Radical Love