One of the life-goals on my bucket-list was to visit the Amazon to, ya know, get REALLY weird, and possibly nude, with the animals.
The Amazon: pristine jungle, exotic and sexy beasts to snuggle, indigenous people to oppress, and hardcore adventure…what about that doesn’t appeal to a level-10 monkey brain like mine? All of it appeals to a level-10 monkey-brain like mine!
So, I got all liquored up on moonshine, made the proper sacrifices to various pagan gods, traveled the 100,000,000 miles to the Napo river (an Ecuadorian Amazon tributary), and promptly shit myself* at what I saw out there. The jungle wasn’t pristine wilderness. Nay, well toned and oiled up reader, the jungle was filthy as a mutha fucker with the filthiest commodity of all, oil!
*Maybe I was shitting myself for fun, but the shitting of oneself in this context lends to the magnitude of what I am trying to portray…or so I’ll pretend.
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How in the flying 4-pronged fuck were there people out in the middle of the goddamn Amazon with functional oil wells (and building more)? There are no roads or airports. Shit, the natives out here were literally head-shrinkers and cannibals* a generation ago (maybe it was more recent…). This is nowhere, man!
*One thing I think that everyone can agree upon, there is nothing better than boiling up some white missionaries in a big cauldron. Mmmm, that long-pig is good!!!
I don’t know how those sneaky little geologist shits knew that there was oil out there, but I do know how they got the infrastructure out there to build the wells despite there being no roads or airports…they floated that shit piece by piece right down the goddamn Napo river.
And where there were wells there was also supporting oil infrastructure including housing for employees and possibly hookers (the hookers live in what is known as a “fuck shack”), cell phone towers (yes, I was able to watch granny fight-club videos streaming on my phone while in the jungle), support roads, and docks.
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I can tell you this, the ecological toll of oil in the Amazon is real – the areas with wells are deforested, the increased boat traffic to the oil sites disturbs wildlife (like freshwater dolphins), and the waste byproduct of the wells is pure fiery death.
These fires burn 24/7/365. At night, every flying insect and bat can see this beacon of doom in the otherwise pitch jungle blackness. Of course, they come to investigate the artificial light and are incinerated for following their base instincts. Wash, rinse, and repeat this nightly crispy-critter session all day erry day. That is a lot of incineration. A lot.
The ecosystem starts to get into trouble as these crispy-critters are a food source for a great many other bigger critters. Hey, sucks for you, hungry bigger critters, as you experience extirpation (local extinction, mate).
At least the jungle itself will survive this nightly incineration of mere insects and bats, right? Nope!
Many of the crispy-critters are pollinators. No pollination means that once the living trees and plants die they don’t get replaced with the same biodiversity. Thus, you get areas around the wells that suffer a massive drop off in flora biodiversity, which leads to a drop off in fauna biodiversity. You basically get blah-zones around the wells with scant biodiversity. So much for the Amazon being the most bio-diverse place on this here planet earth.
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I get it, Ecuador is a piss poor country and they need the oil money. I am not Ecuadorian and it really is not my place to judge what they need over what I want. I do know that there is another path to wealth that preserves the ecosystem…
My final destination on the Napo river was an eco-lodge called the Napo Wildlife Center. The natives that own the land made a choice long ago – protecting their way of life, their land, and the jungle was more important than taking the easy oil money. As an alternative to oil wealth, they built an absolutely incredible eco-lodge.
A destination of this nature-rich magnitude means that fancy nature loving fuck-nuts like me travel from all over the globe to visit. We fancy nature loving fuck-nuts make it straight up rain dollar-dollar-bills-ya’ll on the Napo Wildlife Center for the nwilderness that they preserved. They then use the eco-tourism wealth to buy medicine, build schools, and to have a higher standard of living.
Eco-tourism: the locals get the loot for protecting their nature resources, I get to check life-goals off of my bucket-list, and I got to get REALLY weird, and possibly nude, with the animals. That is a win-win situation..except for the animals!