9 February 2023
5 min read

"As Ya'Acov and the group arrive at Wayusentza and meet Rafael Taish, it is time to share with you a little more of the incredible story of how the Pachamama Alliance came to be. We will hear some of Lynne Twist's and Cristina Serrano's (Cuqui's) story, and how they are interwoven with the powerful presence of Rafael Taish.

Cristina Serrano "Cuqui" is our beloved friend and Pachamama Journey guide. Christina is from Cuenca in Ecuador. She studied ecology and fell in love with the jungle and its indigenous peoples at a young age. She says of herself that this is her life mission; to serve the jungle. And once you meet her, you know that this is true.

Cuqui and Mukusawa

When Lynne and Bill Twist first came to the jungle, following Lynne's insistent vision, they arrived in Achuar territory with John Perkins and 9 other people. They were welcomed by an Achuar elder called Luis Vargas. Luis Vargas initiated the formation of the Achuar Federation and became its first President. Along with other shamans and elders he had been having dreams and visions of the grave dangers that were threatening their green forest. They decided to reach out for allies in the modern world and sent invitations and requests in different ways, including, on the wings of the dream. And they were heard. Lynne's vision is one of the potent ways that this happened.

Lynne Twist and Cristina Serrano (Cuqui)

After having experienced the initial vision, it kept returning and simply would not leave her alone. Lynne was in Africa doing her work with the Hunger Project. People there remembered that the desiccated landscapes in which they were now struggling with famine, had once been verdant rainforest. Lynne recognised that what she was being called to in the Amazon was the same cause, but on the side of prevention. Protecting the forest and ecosystems through standing with its peoples would avert more of the horrors being created which she had been working so hard to mitigate for 27 years. Now, life was inviting her to bring this experience into service in a new way. When Lynne, Bill and 10 other people arrived, they met with Luis Vargas and others. At first there was a sense of reserve, as everyone checked each other out. But real connection was established and mutual trust began to grow. They were taken to meet Rafael Taish and in ceremony with him, the way forward opened.

Cuqui was deeply connected with another thread of this story, in which an encounter with Rafael and his family was also a profound turning point. She went to the jungle in 1995 as an environmental biologist to learn about the Achuar and to train as a guide in the pioneering Achuar eco-project, Kapawi, which also came about as a result of the Achuar reaching out to the western world.

These are Cuqui's words.

"I went to Achuar territory for the first time in 1995 to learn to be a guide for Kapawi. I had the opportunity to live in Rafael's home in Wayusentza for a week as part of my training, in order to immerse myself in Achuar culture. There was only one person with whom I had a shared language. No one spoke Spanish in that community in those times, only one of Rafael's daughters called Yolanda. She was young and I guess she liked me or I looked interesting. She helped me with orientate around the community and do their activities. This included going to their chakras (orchard gardens) to learn about the plants they grow and eat. I learnt to use a machete for the first time.

I tried to try peeling the yuca (manioc) to bring back to make Chicha (their sacred drink) and daily staple. OMG! It was an adventure. I almost cut my fingers off! The girls and the mamas laughed so much about me.I will never forget that feeling.
Eating what they offered me and not saying no was also an adventure. Eating larvae and manioc and actually I came to enjoy sharing these meals.
I was offered a bowl of roasted queens from the famous leaf cutters ants. I looked at the bowl and thought to myself "How in the world am I going to eat it all without offending the women in the family….???"

It’s was an incredible time with Rafael and his family. He had two wives and more than 11 children at that time. His powerful spirit and strong smile stills holds an important place in my heart. I came to know him as a the shaman he was and is. I learned so much from him.
That week in his home changed my life for ever.
He is an unbelievable healer and a powerful spirit. An Incredible human and a humble Dad. I consider him my father from the forest.
I am forever grateful and happy that I had a privilege to meet the Achuar warriors and their beautiful strong women.

An Achuar woman giving chi cha to a guest

My life changed forever and since then, for the last 23 years, my life has been dedicated to them and their forest I continue to stand with them in all what they need."

Cristina Serrano 9.2.23

We learnt so much from Cuqui in our journeys and again and again saw the profound love and trust which the Achiuar and Sapara have for her. Thank you Cuqui!

I promised to tell you about the first time Ya'Acov was asked to give a healing by an Achuar. But this will be for tomorrow. I need to sleep!

With love from me on the slopes of Dartmoor, from my father who sends his love and, I know, from Ya'Acov deep in the forest with Rafael."

A young Achuar woman with Cuqui

with love, Susannah Darling Khan

Hear Lynne Twist speak about this story

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....