In Summer 2008 I joined a conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon. I was based in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, said to be one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet. It was.
Strangely, for me, the jungle wasn’t the best bit of the jungle. I loved the people who lived there. Whilst I helped them to reforest instead of deforest, they taught me how big life can be even with very little.
On my last day I scaled a waterfall, avoiding bullet ants, poisonous spiders and deadly snakes, to visit a natural oil spring. Daniel, our jungle guide, told me that in 50 years’ time an oil company would be drilling where I stood, exploiting both the oil and the people who live there. Afterwards I travelled up the Madre De Dios river to the Shintuya community. There I saw a hand painted Makaw on the side of a Peki-Peki boat. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.
In that moment I realised that there are all kinds of marks we can make on the world, and I knew there and then I wanted to leave a brightly coloured one.
Susan grew up in the working class north of England. She now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland where she is still growing.