I was born deep in the Andean mountains of Ecuador, South America in a small town called Cotacachi where my Mum started an ecology centre in cooperation with the Indigenous Mayor, Auki Tituana. My name was inspired by 'Pacha Mama' (Mother Earth) in the traditional Quechua language. My parents were both involved in environmental activism, social justice and wildlife conservation - meeting during World Mangrove Day, reforesting mangroves in my father's home town of Bahia De Caraquez.
My mother was drawn to the Cloud Forest of Intag, a biodiversity hotspot and one of the most threatened areas due to one of the world's biggest copper deposits. She built a round mud house with a sugar cane thatch roof on a small cloud forest reserve to work with local communities to protect the region from industrial mining, choosing to live simply and lightly on the Earth, with my little brother and I. No electricity, compost toilet, water from the nearby river and an hours walk up the mountain to the dirt road for an irregular bus along precipitous slopes for 2 hours to the reach town. They are unforgettable memories - reading bedtime stories by candle light, watching fireflies dance above our heads dreaming of what the next days' adventures will bring!
During the first few years of my life, my mother took us along on her campaign travels, especially to Japan where she had started a group called the Sloth Club - promoting a radical shift to sustainable lifestyles.
Japan was a second home throughout our childhoods with my mother working in environmental campaigns and performances with deep ecology songs touring throughout the country. She was led there in 1989, as the demand for ancient forests in construction of Tokyo's high-rises brought the destruction of the Borneo jungle, destroying the home and way of life of the Penan - one of the world's last tribes of nomadic hunter-gatherers.
As hard as she fought to protect the planet, she understood it was much bigger than just a single threat, lasting change required a complete shift in our thinking and the way we live - to be guided by the concept of 'deep ecology', an indigenous understanding that we are part of the web of life.
My childhood memories are a treasure trove of incredible encounters - meeting the nomadic Penan, joining protests, visiting the oldest forests on Earth, being inspired by activists, professors, organic farmers and feel the warmth of an extended family from the Sloth Club members.
For family reasons, Mum decided to settle back in Australia, converting a big shed into a 'one planet household' on Yaegl Country along the East coast - just 10 minutes from one the wildest bits of coastline.
It wasn't as hard core as Ecuador but we were comfortable with our compost toilet, solar power and rain water. The best part was being close to the beach. And that's how our surfing story started; one day we were driving to school and saw a sign with an Emu with a surfboard posted at a turn off to the beach. The next weekend, we followed it and joined up to Iluka Boardriders. They lent some soft boards, we started catching our first waves and the surf-stoke was ignited!
Mum had many unconventional parenting ideas; instead of a playstation, she bought a horse (guy Fawkes brumby) to keep us occupied - riding the 800 metres to the bus stop every morning, singing at the top of our voices! Her shed conversion involved lots of recycled materials, including two big mirror panels, which kept us entertained for hours (no TV!) and launched our little entrepreneurial venture of 'dance busking' at markets to collect money to buy our first surfboards. (Our shed-house is still there, the garden is still growing, the waves still pumping - such a privilege to be able to 're-earth' there between adventures!)
The next story changed my life forever…