To compile his new book, My Favorite Place on Earth, Jerry Camarillo Dunn Jr., interviewed dozens of famous people — from Natalie Portman to the Dalai Lama — about the places they loved most. He’ll be guest blogging about his experiences here for the next few weeks. Click here for recent posts.
“Cultural, authentic, and sustainable”- the triple aspirations of the Intelligent Travel blog – are watchwords for some of the accomplished people you’ll read about in My Favorite Place on Earth.
I think of Jean-Michel Cousteau, whose favorite spot wasn’t undersea but a lost corner of Peru, where 25 years ago he met a remarkable man. “Chief Kukus [of the Achuar, a group of the Jivaro] had nearly as much impact on me as my own father,” Mr. Cousteau told me. “He taught me his values…His village stood on a river in the deep forest…There were a lot of birds in the trees, and monkeys all over the place. The people hunted with blowguns and poison darts, but in a sustainable way. They only killed what they needed, what nature could provide.
“Chief Kukus showed me some trees he had planted that were about ten feet tall. He told me: ‘I’ll never see them grow big enough, and my children won’t either – even my grandchildren, probably not. But my great-grandchildren, they’ll be able to use those trees that I have planted.’ He pointed to one in particular and said, ‘That’s going to make a good canoe.’
“For me, the chief expressed the unwritten constitution of the future. In our modern culture we deal only with the present – now now now. We say we care about our children and grandchildren, yet we do nothing about it. But the Jivaro people had the right concept. They knew how to live in harmony with nature in a sustainable way.”
Like Jean-Michel Cousteau, the world stands to learn much from traditional people who have managed to survive in one place for a long time. I think of the Earth as “one place” – and I hope we take the long view.
Photo: via the Ocean Futures Society
- Nat Geo Expeditions