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2024 starts in Ecuador...

You may have heard about Ecuador in the news recently. Fear, chaos, loss of life…

This Ecuador is the opposite of what I know this country truly represents. A seemingly insatiable and increasing demand from 'rich' countries for the recreational drug of cocaine (actually a sacred medicine cherished by many indigenous peoples) - and the craving for money, power and control for a wealth circle of the same 1% for decades. The brutal drug cartels playing with the lives and communities of Ecuadoreans are not very local (Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Albania, Russia...) and are being enabled by the USA, Europe and Australia. Globalisation in another twisted manifestation.

When I first heard the news of a national emergency here I brushed it off as another temporary ‘curfew’  - but the story soon unfolded chaotically -  a major TV channel being taken over live on air, prisons overrun and spilling over to people looting in the streets. We bunkered down, gathered some food and water supplies in case it got worse, and hoped and prayed that things would change. In the relative safety of a community in the Andes who grow their own food and take care of each other, there was a surreal sense that it was all happening in a different time, in a different country...It also brought the sense of uncertainty and panic, that so many people are feeling in war torn countries around the world, to stark reality...

I called my family and spoke to so many different perspectives but hearing the direct personal experience of my friend Steven Donovan who witnessed the unfolding chaos right in front of his eyes in Guayaquil. Military personnel taking over the streets and shooting towards his hotel, wondering if they would be able to leave the country, urgently trying to contact his embassy...

How do we break free from this deep and very real threat to lives all over Ecuador ?

Fear is the mind killer said my brother, texting me from Australia. 

Fear and bullets. Fear and lack of food. Fear and lack of education. Fear and extreme poverty.

We have to tip this fear upside down, shake it up and replace it with love - love for each other, love for this beautiful, biodiverse country, love for life.

The day before this current crisis unfolded,  I was sitting on the ridge of the sacred lagoon of Cuicocha at 3000m above sea level, mesmerised by its cauldron of swirling waters, contemplating the delicate fragility of life. This active volcano could claim this whole region whenever it pleases, yet here I was praying to the beauty of its turquoise water and listening to bumblebees feasting on the wildflowers that grew along the mountains. We never know how close we are to cataclysm, may this awareness keep us present and grateful - always. 

I accept my immense privilege, my Australian passport, the relative safety of my upbringing (despite the adventures!), the accessibility to tools and opportunities to follow my dreams and share my stories... may it always be to the highest good of all.

So, in the end, we choose hope. Some will understand and some will not. That’s okay. Still we have hope.


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