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Once on the water, we could see the rainforest pushing close to the river. The town of Coca, a depot on Ecuador’s Rio Napo, was already slipping away, disappearing behind a bend. It was early morning. There had been a week of heavy rain and trees had fallen into the river as the bank washed away. With the pressure of the current, branches emerged from the brown water and waved up and down, as if saying goodbye. Older branches, now blackened and leafless, broke the surface and then silently disappeared.

After an hour, we began to see wildlife: toucans and parrots, movements in the trees that suggested monkeys. On one log, I spotted four turtles sitting in a row, each with a butterfly on its head. (I took this as a sign, an offering; it turned out to be the standard post-card image from the Napo valley.) I had been on the lookout for caiman, fresh water alligators, which entertained our guides — sharp-nosed men who grew up along this river. The men were from one of the local tribes, most likely Huaorani, Kichwa, or Shuar. They wore t-shirts and baseball caps.
More… “In Search of Yasuní”

David Bartholomae has taught travel writing to U.S. students in Beijing, Hyderabad, London, Cape Town, Florianopolis, Buenos Aires, and the Napo valley of Ecuador. In May, 2018, he will be teaching in Havana. He is Professor of English and the Charles Crow Chair of Expository Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. His current project is an essay on Spain’s Camino de Santiago.

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When Dennis Chamberland looks at the sea, he sees land. He sees a vast unpopulated kingdom that can, and will, become a new habitat for humans. He sees neighborhoods where families will live and work and grow their own food. He sees the future generations that will be born underwater, and he sees these people as stewards of the sea. The time for sea living is here, and Dennis Chamberland — star of the recent VBS.TV episode “The Aquatic Life of Dennis Chamberland” — intends to be its pioneer. This underwater dominion will be named Aquatica. “We are the first humans who will move there and stay with no intention of ever calling dry land our home again,” he writes on his Atlantica Expeditions website. “We represent the first generation of a people who will live out their lives beneath the sea.”

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