Hispanic Mama

I Left My Heart in the Amazon Rainforest

As a young girl, the Amazon rainforest was not on my bucket list of places that I wanted to visit in my home country. I wrongly thought it was another area of my country filled with a bunch of trees with just different shades of green.

Since I already lived surrounded with what it felt like a gazillion of banana trees, driving 10 hours to see “la Amazonía” was not too appealing to me.

Thankfully, this drastically changed during the summer of my junior year in high school when the family of one of my girlfriends invited me to join their family on a trip to Pastaza, a province in Ecuador located in the eastern of the Amazon jungle.

At the beginning I was more excited about the adventure of being with my friend but this changed the minute that I stepped into the Amazon jungle.

the amazon rainforest

It is impressive how the Amazon rainforest can overwhelme you with its beauty, glory and energy. And this is because la Amazonía amazingly touches every part of your being.

The sight of the vast forest, the smell of the delicious flowers, the unfamiliar sounds of an array of animals, all of that, steals your heart and challenges you to be a new person.

 

RELATED: 9 Children’s Books about Ecuador in Spanish

The first thing we did after arriving was to hike inside the jungle for a three hour tour. During our hike deep inside the jungle, the heavy foliage makes it dark and challenging to see well, my friend’s seven-year old sister slipped getting a minor scratch on her right knee.

Our guide, a local of the area, hurried applying some of the medicine that he was carrying in his first aid bag. But he  also graciously showed us  another alternative to ease the pain using only leaves!

On that trip I learned that only 1% of the plants found in the rainforest have been tested for medicinal properties. Most of our food (rice, corn, chocolate, bananas, black pepper, pineapple and other) originally comes from the Amazon rainforest.

I also learned that it’s the home of many indigenous groups and more than 40,000 plant species, 2.5 million different insects, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 different types of fish and 430 mammals.

the amazon jungle

Unfortunately, governments are not doing everything they can to preserve this magical place. For example, only a few months ago, there were several devastating oil spills in the Peruvian Amazon.

This is why organizations like The Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation are so important to raise their voice against deforestation and oil spills. Last year, I got excited when I heard that the Titanic superstar was going to donate $3.4 million to the indigenous groups in the Ecuadorian Amazon who have been affected by petroleum extraction.

The financial help is very appreciated and necessary, but another important way to preserve the Amazon rainforest is through education.

Our children need to learn from us about the importance of this beautiful part of our world that covers a lot of South America. And, the following children’s books are great resources to get you started.

7 Children’s Books about the Amazon Rainforest

 

Verde fue mi selva (Spanish)

This popular book by Ecuadorian writer, Edna Iturralde, is a set of fascinating stories for children that provides an accurate portrayal of the Amazon indigenous groups of Ecuador and their way of life. It is a “Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner” for ethnic and intercultural diversity in the United States.

Afternoon on the Amazon (Magic Tree House, No. 6)

 

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest

 

DK Eyewitness Books: The Amazon

 

Lost on the Amazon (Choose Your Own Adventure 9)

 

Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon

I strongly believe that the commitment to preserve the Amazon can start from reading a book. You don’t have to hike through the jungle, swim with pink dolphins or take a cruise on the Amazon river, to fell in love with this place. Your heart will get stolen through the pages of a book, anyway.

 

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4 thoughts on “I Left My Heart in the Amazon Rainforest

  1. Natasha

    What a beautiful place! I had no idea the conditions of a rainforest until my hubs and I toured one in Hawaii last year. It was beautiful yet as you mentioned dark and slick in spots and of course rainy. I would love to share one of these books with our kids for homeschool for them to learn about the Amazon rainforest.

  2. Liz

    Wow! It’s so cool to hear about your visit to the Amazon in high school. It’s definitely on my list of places I’d like to visit. When I was in elementary school I had a teacher who went over the top with decorating her classroom as a rainforest for a unit – jungle sounds on a boombox and vines and everything! One of my favorite books she’d provided in the library at the time was The Great Kapok Tree <3 It was a very memorable few weeks at school, and learning about the treasure of the Amazon and the potential threats early as a child really instills a desire to preserve it.

  3. Ann

    I’ve never been to the Amazon, but I have been to other rainforests and you’re right that being near a bunch of trees is just not the same. I really want to visit the Amazon some day.

    Love all of your book recommendations! We have the Magic Tree House book and I’m definitely going to add it to our list of books we read during the Olympics.

  4. Mindy

    I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting a rainforest or the Amazon. What a magical place it must be! The diversity alone is the reason we must protect this place. We do not know how many undiscovered species are there or what plants may hold the key to curing diseases.