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Encontro de Jovens, São Paulo • The Art of Tracking, Alta Floresta

In May and again in October, we followed the tracks of the onça pintada (jaguar) into the vast interior spaces of the cerrado, chapada and Pantanal of Mato Grosso to further our work with the youth of Brazil. Our May visit took us into the bush for a nearly ten hour bus ride from Cuiabá for a staff training in the Kura-Bakairí village of Kuiakware. In October we returned to Cuiabá to take part in Círculo dos Saberes III in the village of the Umutina people. (A report on the training and the gathering itself follows in the Círculo dos Saberes III article). On each visit we were also able to take part in a gathering for the young (and not so young) people of Brazil who have taken our message of natural awareness and cultural respect to heart.

Both of these visits were funded by the Aurora Foundation, with additional assistance in October from Instituto Centro de Vida. Hospitality and logistics were provided by the graduates of Nutrindo as Raizes, our Brazilian mentor circle.

Encontro de Jovens

At the invitation of Elsinha, Rodrigo, Paulo Cassis and others from the São Paulo region, Solar Law, long-time associate of The Tracking Project, and John Stokes presented a half-day Arts of Life workshop for more than 250 young people at their annual Youth Encounter. The time passed quickly with a full program which included: the Opening Words of the Thanksgiving Address; a talk on the theme O Futuro e Agora (The Future is Now); some music on didjeridu; and a huge Secrets of Natural Movement workout on the soccer field.

It was heart-warming to re-encounter so many young people we have met from all around Brazil over the past ten years in our work with Projeto Pegadas Brasil and to see how our teachings have been received. Many thanks to Solar for his translation assistance, to all the youth and all the organizers who made our visit possible.

Alta Floresta

In October, following the Círculo gathering, the Stokes family joined Solar and John in Cuiabá at the home of Luara Presotti Carvalho and her family for several days of tracking and sight-seeing in the Chapada dos Guimarães and the Pantanal, where we observed large numbers of capivaras, jacares, hawks, vultures and wading birds of all descriptions. (Thanks to Carolina and Pedro Paulo.)

Solar/lunar breathing with 250 young Brazilians

Solar/lunar breathing with 250 young Brazilians at the Encontro de Jovens, São Paulo, May 2008.

This portion of our visit, the travels and the course that followed were coordinated by Luara, who also joined us in the United States from July through December to take part in our Dreamtracking girls’ camp, Tracking in the Southwest and many other activities. Luara took part in her first Pegadas course when she was 14 and has been a member of our tracking circle since that time. She, her mother Martha and sister Clarissa are graduates of the mentor program. Her father Sergio is director of Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV), an environmental organization based in Cuiabá and Brasília ( Luara has proven herself to be invaluable as a translator and organizer.

We then boarded a plane and flew an hour north to Alta Floresta, a city in the southern drainage of the Amazon basin, for a tracking course organized by Luara, her family, and other mentors including José Alexandro, Mercedes, Irene, Jean, Heloise and many others. There was time for a day visit to the beautiful eco-resort Cristalino Jungle Lodge ( and a boat trip up the Cristalino river into the deep forest guided by José Alexandro before we set up camp on a small island— Ilha Ariosto—where we were met by 46 participants for a three day Arts of Life tracking course.

Sergio and other staff from ICV had carefully selected the participants of the course to include biologists and others who work with rainforest issues. In the heat and humidity of the rainforest, from first light until nearly midnight, we filled our days with activities and teachings: Thanksgiving words, natural movement, firemaking, tracking…. Isabel Taukane had joined us and provided a presentation on Círculo III. And there was time each night for music and presentations around the fire.

This course was so rich, the participants so interested, the forest so powerful (the food so good, thank you Susanna), we can only express our gratitude. To our mentors, the staff of ICV, City Hall of Alta Floresta, Vitória and the staff of Cristalino Jungle Lodge, obrigado.

We have plans for more visits to Cuiabá in 2009. Our work in Brazil continues to shine brightly, thanks to the Aurora Foundation, the people of Pegadas, our mentor circle and the many individuals who assist us in this valuable project. Temos saudades.