Hi friends, I was so excited when I was asked to write this blog. Not because I think my story is the best one out there, far from it. I am excited to share my story because it was a time of my life that changed me forever. My journey began when I decided to follow in the footsteps of the famous ethnobotanist Terence Mckenna, and hopped on a plane to Columbia. My intent at the time was to cross Bogotá into La Chorrera as he did in the 90’s. Instead, my journey leads me through Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru.

After our two-day bus ride from Ecuador into Peru, my travel companion was ready to head home so we took a taxi to the airport in Lima. While waiting with her that night I saw a post in a Facebook Group about a fellow member being in the Amazon. Since we had connected online previously about our shared passions, I sent him a message asking him if he was still in Peru and where. I was a little nervous to travel to a place alone that was not even on my radar but I was open to the adventure and followed my heart. He reserved me a room at the hostel he was staying at, so I hopped on a same-day flight to the Amazon Rainforest.

My plane landed in what seemed to be an open field and a bus station, I took a deep breath and headed outside. I saw a nice man standing beside a tuk-tuk, He asked where I was going and took me straight to my new hostel where I met Jason, who was so sweet and took me to an awesome restaurant that served vegan dishes. We had juice and dinner and talked about his plans to buy property in the jungle and the book he was writing. We dug deeper into our passions by talking about plant medicine like ayahuasca and self-sustainable living.

When I woke up the next morning I noticed a starfruit tree right outside of my door, I continued to walk right into this beautiful outdoor kitchen and met some great new friends. I connected with a girl Ampi, from Spain. She lived in Peru a few years earlier and wanted to visit some tourists sites she didn’t have a chance to see. Ampie and I both desperately needed to do some laundry so took it in together and walked to the local market. It is outdoors and pretty big. We tried some fruit that you can only get locally and juices made of star fruit. After lunch and our taste testing, we decided to check out what else makes Puerto Maldonado special. We spent a few hours at a butterfly sanctuary, bonding with the owners. The place was beautiful and I made a butterfly friend right away. It was a Blue Morpho and just loved me. I put him down on a flower at the end of the tour and the little guy found me again.

Our tuk-tuk driver waited for us to finish up because he was having a bad day and said that he had been enjoying his time with us and offered to take us for a two hour tour to some “off the map” places for 27 soles which is about 11 dollars Canadian. Of course we agreed. He first took us to the Madre de Dios river where we met some locals who were hauling in bananas, papayas, and plantains by boats. They were very friendly and lets us hop aboard to take some pictures. The vibe was indescribable.

Each night I watched the sunset, the moon rise, venus shine and the stars appear. My nights were as amazing as my days. This area has some of the most pristine primary rainforests in the world. They include several oxbow lakes and clay licks, where hundreds of birds, including macaws, feed on clay.

One of my roommates was saving monkeys for two weeks, another group I met were helping to save the harpy eagles, I met some farmers and swang from jungle vines with a group I dearly love. I also met Jana who works at ARC, the Amazon Rainforest Conservancy. Jana and I shared our passions, beliefs, and discovered we were both from the same province in Canada. I have since had the opportunity to get more involved with ARC myself. There is so much work to do on this planet and to serve such a sacred place is a blessing. Currently, we are looking to open a school in Puerto Maldonado for the children whose parents can not afford to send them to school. We plan on integrating conservation, environment and nutrition into the curriculum, to encourage a change of thinking in the next generation. Currently, most residents in Puerto Maldonado think nothing of destroying the jungle to make money.

We contribute to the destruction too but there is a great opportunity to make a big difference today. Do you have time to speak to schools in your community? Do you see an opportunity to serve? Do you have the money to give back?

About Ashley Michaud
Ashley Michaud an Alternative Healer, Integrative Health Coach and founder of Elemental Growth. She is dedicating her life to healing this planet and the people on it who are ready to take their power back, be their healthy best, and fulfill their dharma (purpose in life).
For more information about Ashley, visit https://elementalgrowth.wordpress.com