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  • I just read Clem's story, and was then browsing through some old photos, and I came across this picture. It's from when I was in South America. The river we are travelling on is The Amazon, it is at low water, the end of the rainy season.

    As you can imagine, there are few, if any roads here, the waterways are the main routes of transport and communication. We had just finished a 5 day trek through the jungle, and were about to head back to civilisation (boredom).

    We picked up a boat at Atalya del Norte and were headed an hour or so up river to Tabatinga. There were the four of us trekkers, Julie (who is in the photo), Dino and Marina plus myself, the pilot of the boat and our guide, Nestor. As the boat was about to leave, a group of children called out to us. They wanted a lift!

    There were five of them, the eldest was about 9 years old, the youngest 3. They wanted a lift to go to Tabatinga and buy ice cream. I noticed they had a large polystyrene box with them so it begged the question, "How much Ice Cream"?

    Their plan was to go up-river to Tabatinga, and with what little pocket money they had, buy as much ice cream as they could afford to fill the box, then hitch another boat back to Atalya, where they would sell the ice cream to their fellow villagers, and earn enough money for another trip to buy more ice cream.

    It was not the entrepreneurial spirit of these children that struck me, after all, there are nil paid work opportunities where they live. All they wanted to do was buy enough ice cream to raise money to go back and buy more ice cream. It was the fact that they trusted strangers. They trusted us enough to hitch a lift on our boat.

    The parents of a three year old completely trusted total strangers to look after, and deliver their child to a village 20 Km away. Not only that, it was a single trip, the children had to beg another ride to get back! There were no buses or taxis!

    Apparently, this is normal in the Amazon.

    What a sense of community, sense of trust, sense of friendship these people had. They lived the jungle. They built their homes form the raw materials the jungle provided. They lived on the crops they grew, the fish they caught. They lived and worked together as a community, as friends and as family.

    These people had nothing except what they made for themselves, yet they were some of the happiest, friendliest and most trusting people I have ever met.

    I truly wish that we had the same outlook in our society as they have in theirs.

    The sun is out, I'm going for ice cream
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