You Were: The Explorer

October 19, 2010

 

Not long ago, there were still uncharted lands. Dense jungles, icy mountain peaks, and desert islands that didn’t appear on any maps. For a handful of hardy explorers, these were the only desirable destinations. Some searched for cities of gold or lost civilizations. Others wanted to see their names in history books. You went for the thrill of it. Nothing appealed to you more than setting foot where no man (or woman!) had ever gone before.

You grew up in Columbia on the edge of the Amazon. Your father was a Spanish missionary. Your mother was his Ticuna translator. Whenever your father was busy with a sermon, your mother taught you how to survive in the rain forest. On your long walks together, she showed you which insects were edible. Which plants could heal wounds. Which snakes tasted like chicken–and which shouldn’t be bothered. One day, when you were twelve, you set off on your own. A week passed. Everyone assumed you’d been consumed by a jaguar. Then you emerged from the jungle looking well-fed and healthy. When your mother examined you, she discovered that you hadn’t suffered single bug bite.

As an adult, you were hired by the National Geographic Society to lead a famous American explorer through the jungle you knew so well. His job was to map the forest. Your job was to keep him alive. Unfortunately, he refused to take advice from a young woman. Three days into the trip, he was swallowed by an anaconda. (You told him to keep his distance, but he wanted the skin as a trophy.) So you continued on alone, determined to finish the man’s map. You went much further than you’d ever gone before.

If you’d been looking, you might not have found it. A city in the trees. Magnificent wooden buildings built twenty feet off the ground and hidden under the shade of the forest’s canopy. During the day, the people farmed the land beneath their homes. At night they studied the stars above and inscribed the secrets of the universe in handcrafted books. For currency, they used brilliant green gems taken from nearby streams. You’d never seen an emerald, but you knew how many lives each one was worth.

That discovery alone could have earned you a place among the greatest explorers of the era. But the members of the National Geographic Society received your map, they found no reference to the glorious city in the trees. That map is still used today.

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One Response to “You Were: The Explorer”

  1. Rileydog Says:

    Wow, thanks so much Kirsten!!!


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