The massively talented "birthday twins," Michaela & Marianna of Nomadic Habit, a stunning travel writer and crazy amazing photographer, respectively, are winding down their #birthdaybucketlist South American soirees. From crafting flower crowns in Cartegna, Colombia to galloping down to the Galapagos, figuring out their work/life balance in Quito, Ecuador, kicking back in serious bohemian style in Nicaragua and now... venturing into the wild of the Amazon for their final South American stop. This is the crown jewel of trip that can only be described as it has been... a true birthday bucket list adventure, culiminating, of course, with a cruise down the Amazon and an exploration of the natural healing and medicines this wonder of the world provides... if you know where to look. As always, they've chosen to walk to the beat of their own drum and we're in step right along with them, flower crowns perched prettily & intact.
As we reach the end of our South American journey, Marianna and I board our final flight for Iquitos, Peru, where an adventure through the Peruvian Amazon awaits. We first set sail on the Delfin II for our cruise with Delfin Amazon Cruises, then we head to our very own private cabana at Samiria Ecolodge, where we have the entire resort to ourselves. Located along the Marañon River in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, the thatched-roof cabanas of Samiria Ecolodge dot the Amazonian landscape, creating a harmonious communion with the ecological surrounds. Rustic and comfortable, we settle into our home for the next two nights, where we explore the wild Amazon terrain.
Although the Amazon is famous for ayahuasca ceremonies, Marianna and I explore a different side of the jungle’s medicinal qualities: Leaving for a walk deep within the thick vegetation, we explore the land with our guide Llacko to learn the secret remedies the jungle provides. Everything from cashew plants to the bark of cedar trees are heated into teas, creating a cure for almost any ailment there is. Only locals like Llacko know the secrets of the jungle, and he’s kind enough to pass on his wisdom to us and any other travelers who venture to this edge of paradise.
As we make our way deeper and deeper into the heart of the jungle, Llacko begins to collect items the Mayuruna Indians use to celebrate the full moon. First, he uses thick yellow palm leaves to weave the base of the traditional full moon crown. Second, he finds bright green leaves and slices them into a perfect shape with his machete, using these to make the frontal point of the crown. He continues to scour the jungle, where he finds a system of vines that wind down a large tree. He pulls until they release, effortlessly falling to the jungle floor. He weaves them into a circular pattern, which he uses to hold the entire crown together.
As we make our way back to the lodge, Llacko tells us more about the full moon celebration of the Mayuruna Indians. The festivities symbolize a time to be free and dance, harmoniously open to everyone, not exclusive to any specific culture or religion. He finds the fruit of a wild ginger plant, and once we’re back in the lodge, he uses the fruit’s purple pigment to adorn our faces in the ancestral woman hunter design that’s been used in the Amazon since he can remember.