1 February 2023
4 min read

"The first time we arrived in Quito we were on our way to participate in a Pachamama Alliance journey for the first time. It was 2012.

We walked into the airport and looked at each other with some alarm. We both had the same feeling that the floor was moving and we’d both come to the same conclusion that there was an earthquake happening. We looked around and everybody was completely calm. We said to each other; “Maybe it's just a small one and they are so completely used to earthquakes here that they don’t even react. Wow!” Soon, however, we realised that it wasn't an earthquake at all. What we were experiencing was us wobbling, not the world. It was the effect of altitude sickness. Quito is the second highest capital city in the world at an altitude of 2850m, and we had yet to acclimatise.


Yet, in one way we were right. This journey did prove to be an earthquake. The ground of our lives did move during that Pachamama Alliance journey to the Ecuadorian Amazon with Pat Usner and her husband David all those years ago.

In many ways we are where we are now because of that journey. As I write these words, I feel immense gratitude for Pat, for the Alliance, for the indigenous people who are part of the Alliance and who called it into being. I’ll be sharing more about this incredible story as we go along in these posts.

Pat and David recommended going to see the art of Oswaldo Guayasamín who is known as the "South American Picasso." Have you heard of him? We hadn’t. But we soon realised that we should have done. His work is beautiful, searing – a passionate prayer for a more just world. I stood in tears in front of his enormous Pieta, where, instead of Jesus, a man of the earth lies in the arms of a woman, a mother of the earth. My heart burst with this lament and a prayer for us all. In his own words:

"My art is a way of praying, and to scream at the same time..... and is the greatest consequence of love and solitude." Oswaldo Guayasamín.

The Amazon had been a mythic place for me since I was at primary school where I had fallen in love with a children's book of photos of people of the Amazon. I remember the wondrous smell of its pages. I was enchanted by the people in nature; children playing naked and free in waterfalls, climbing lianas, their faces open and joyous. I smelt a fragrance of holiness which I connected with the deep wild, in particular the Amazon.

I was tremulous with longing, fear and excitement when, the next day, we got on the bus and set off. That’s what the group are doing right now as I write this. Driving down the long road called the “Avenue of the Volcanoes" towards the Pastaza. It’s a heart bursting thing to suddenly see a snow-capped volcano rising out of the flat pasture lands. This (above) is Cotopaxi, photographed from the Avenue of the Volcanoes on one of these journeys. For me this was a portal into mythic journeying - like suddenly being in a fairy tale and recognising yourself as part of the story.

Cristina Serrano is a wonderful Ecuadorian guide who we have travelled with many times and who also cannot go this time. She told me today:

"Feeling the Mama Tungurahua (volcano) shakes me to my very core and makes me realise how powerful I am. As we drive down the Pastaza canyon towards the Amazon basin I see the power of change from the Andes to the forest. It’s like a pathway to open my heart and mind more and more to the presence of the magical Rainforest. I can smell the humidity and air and breath the clean oxygen there. My heart is full of joy…"

Cristina Serrano

'Cuqui' Cristina Serrano

Stay tuned! The soul of connection is simply connected. 

With love and greetings to you wherever you are in your own mythic journey,

Susannah Darling Khan

Find out about journeys in the Amazon with the Pachamama Alliance.

Find out about the Sacred Headwaters Alliance.

Find out about the Movement Medicine Summer Long Dance

Susannah Darling Khan

Susannah's life is dedicated to the quest for a world where beauty and compassion flourish....