7: Peace Dude # 2
by Artie Taylor
I’d been in the central Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest for about three months
helping the Injawabi tribe to fight off the oil companies that were trying to
buy out their lands, when I came into the picture.
Things were so crazy that most of the time I didn’t think about my family
all that much. Just every time I had a
moment to myself, or whenever I closed my eyes, or looked at one of the Injawabi
kids or ... Okay, so it was really tough being away from my kids -- I hadn’t seen
them in three and a half months -- and I still couldn’t really accept the fact
that Samantha and I had been separated for over a year now. And since I was uncontactable out there in the
rainforest, for all I knew she might very well have gotten a divorce by then.
Lord knows she deserved someone like Peter.
Definitely the picket-fence type. Exactly
what Sam really needed. Not an idealistic
nut like me.
we’d gotten a grant from a small American foundation and had legally secured the
60,000 acre tract to the north of the lake, but the oil companies were losing
their patience on the southern side and the tribe was getting desperate. It had been their ancestral hunting grounds
for ages and ages, but through some chicanery and secret deals with the Ecuadorian
government, Petro International had somehow gained ‘legal’ control of the southern
The nonprofit agency I had been working for kept promising to send additional
staff, but for the three months I’d been there, it was only me out there in the
wilds, helping the tribe to hold off the corporate monster that was engulfing
their world. When the bulldozers came barreling in, they met the entire tribe
and me squatting on their land. This confrontation had gone on for days when ‘mysteriously’
(the day before reinforcements were to arrive along with representatives from
the Ecuadorian Indigenous Affairs Department) fire broke out that evening on the
Southern tract. There was so much confusion
and terror, and it felt like the whole world was on fire.
That’s when Jesse and Jimmy saved my life.
I thought we’d gotten the whole tribe to safety on the northern shore,
but then we discovered that two young brothers were still missing. The fire had
already swallowed most of the southern shoreline, but frantically I headed back
across the lake on the raft into the heart of it.
was like Hell. With all the rain we’d had,
I couldn’t believe the fire had spread so quickly and heartlessly. The trees went right up to the shoreline and
now so did the flames blazing in the night with an awful reddish light. I found the older brother, soot covered and
crying at the water’s edge, just out of reach of the flames. I pulled him up onto the raft but he kept pulling
back saying that his little brother was still in there somewhere. I told him, in broken Spanish and Injawabi that
I would try to go back in there and find his brother, so he let me pull him onto
the raft. I jumped into the water and tried
to get close to the shore but the heat was unbearable. Turning back, I saw that
some embers had landed on the raft. It had caught on fire, and the child had jumped
into the water.
I quickly swam back and held onto the boy as he coughed and cried, and
I stood there up to my neck in water and wondered what to do.
Of course I’d have to swim back, but the northern shore was a long way
and I was exhausted already and not really that great a swimmer to start with. There’s no way I’d make it. Then suddenly a bright light shone down on us,
and above the roar of the fire I heard the helicopter. A ladder dangled in front of me. I grabbed on with the boy’s arms around my neck
as the ladder pulled us out of the water. We
slowly crossed the lake, dangling just a few feet from the surface.
We were only half way across when a drizzling rain began, pelting me in
the face and making me sure my hands would slip and we’d plunge into the water. I held on for dear life.
It seemed like
forever, but finally we were safely on the northern shore. The helicopter let us down gently, and I and
the child lay there exhausted. The helicopter
set down and out climbed a boy and then a woman. The pilot peered out at us and I sat up quickly.
“There’s still another child in there somewhere!” I yelled.
The woman turned back to talk to the pilot to instruct him to fly back
across the water. But she’d barely opened
her mouth when there was a cheering all around me.
From out of the darkness walked a dark figure carrying the missing boy
in its arms.
The tribe swarmed around the approaching figure, and I tried to rise to
my feet. “Maya?” I gasped, unsure of whether I was hallucinating
because of my exhaustion.
She heard me and smiled in my direction as one of the
elders took the boy and the crowd moved away.
“This blind woman-stranger must have walked across the
water with the child,” one of the elder-women whispered, and
word spread quickly throughout the tribe.
That sure sounded like Maya Amaru GrandVisions!
I tried to struggle to my feet as she approached.
“Milord,” she smiled as she stood over me.
“Maya,” I laughed as she helped me up and we hugged.
“Making a grand entrance as usual,” I chuckled.
course,” she smiled back. “And of course it’s only illusion, as always.
But don’t tell anyone else. People like to believe in their illusions.”
As we hugged, the exhaustion in my body seemed to subside, as if energy
and strength were flowing from her body to mine.
Probably it was just the joy and excitement at seeing a dear friend I hadn’t
seen in a long time. But then, she never ceased to have that effect
on me. Hugging Maya GrandVisions always
felt like I was hugging Mother Earth. Being
around her inspired me with awe and wonder. She and my old friend Merle always made me feel
that magic was alive in the world. If not
magic, at least hope. Maybe they were one
and the same thing.
“It’s just illusions,” she whispered again, as she always said to me whenever
I questioned her about the amazing things she constantly seemed to do. Then I saw her speedboat glistening in the moonlight
that shone through a hole in the clouds down a ways along the northern shoreline,
and I had to smile as the magic glow faded into a warm, explainable, but peaceful,
and safe feeling.
The rain had almost stopped as the clouds raced across the heavens, but
across the lake the fires had died down. I
hoped with all my heart the damage wasn’t too bad, but no matter how bad it would
turn out in the morning’s light, too much had been lost.
The sadness started to seep back in.
worry, Arthur,” she whispered. “Tomorrow
things will be better. Though the land
has been scarred it can’t be destroyed, and with the reinforcements coming in
the morning there will be new legal protection.”
Even if she hadn’t really walked on water, I knew that Maya could always
see the real situations behind things, so I didn’t even wonder how she knew about
the one the Injawabi were in. It felt natural
again to seek her advice without having to explain any of the background information.
“But what about the money part of it? It
was a major miracle to raise the funds to secure this side of the lake. Even if we can legally halt the drilling on
the southern side, we still have to buy the lands back.”
I looked into Maya’s blind illuminating eyes and saw two figures reflected
in them growing closer. “That part is already
taken care of,” she whispered to me and then turned me around to face the figures
standing behind me. It was the woman and
the boy from the helicopter.
“Oh... thank you so much for saving my life,” I gasped and held my hand
out to the woman.
They both smiled and the boy held out his hand.
“Our pleasure. Mr. Taylor, I presume. And
Miss GrandVisions,” he added with a smile.
Chapter | Next Chapter Table
of Contents | Preface | Ch 1
| Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch
Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch
7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 |Ch
10 | Ch 11 |
Ch 12 | Ch
13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch
16 | Ch 17 |
Ch 18 | Ch
19 | Ch 20 | Ch 21 | Ch
22 | Ch 23 |
Ch 24 | Ch
25 | Ch 26 | Ch 27 | Ch
28 | Ch 29