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Bruce Parry

Belem: The End of the Journey


I've just walked into the vast expanse of water that is the Atlantic Ocean to give my last piece to camera of the whole shoot. I collapsed into the water, exhausted and somewhat lost for words. It wasn't deep as the beach went on for ages, so I just lay there in the shallows with the odd ripple of water washing over me, feeling tired but content. I tasted the water and sure enough it tasted completely fresh - hardly a hint of oceanic saltwater at all. So the Amazon is still master of this area. People tell me the fresh water continues for many miles out to sea and up and down the coasts. Quite remarkable really.

But although I have been reading many facts and figures about the meeting of these two massive bodies of water, my heart is not with the geography at all right now. Instead it is full of the memories of the people I have met on my journey. From Rodolfo in the High Andes eight months ago, to the Kayapo, it has been the people rather than the landscape that have shaped my experiences. Their faces and words are swirling round in my head and will be for some time to come I am sure.

So how am I feeling? Well, knackered first and foremost, I guess. I know that I've been living on reserve energy for a while now and I know from experience that as soon as I stop working I usually go into recovery mode (which generally means a lot of time in bed). I'm looking forward to that, but I hope that I don't suddenly get hit by too many illnesses which I've managed to keep suppressed while I've been so busy, as that has happened before when I finish a big trip. I'll know soon enough.

And other than my selfish feelings of the moment, I am also emotionally wrecked by the whole of this experience. New crew members have been looking at me a little oddly as I rant on about what I'm seeing here, especially in the last month or so. I feel that I may have gone a little insane. This whole experience has been quite a shock for me and I'm not too sure how I'm going to react to going back to the UK to be honest.

Ultimately I have seen the frontline of international trade and industry in many of its forms. I've lived with and experienced a little of the lives of the producers of some of the resources which we consume in the developed world. Natural resources which are generally not being replaced and the removal of which is destroying the environment where they are found. So much money being made with little regard for the communities and environment which is most affected by the removal. Organised crime, murder and so on. And I know that the Amazon is just an example of what is going on everywhere, all over the world. And even if I am not directly involved in the purchase of timber, soya or gold for example, I am involved in some other consumption which will no doubt be doing some other terrible damage to the environment and life in some other corner of the globe. Had we not been potentially affected would I ever have bothered looking behind the curtain of what is going on? Maybe not. But I have looked now, and I've seen some terrible stuff. Symptoms of our individual world of greed and fear, and it's scary.

But I haven't just met the producers of these resources. I've met indigenous people fighting to save their land and other bystanders who are fighting to survive as the forest disappears. I've also met some extraordinary people doing amazing things to help fight the destruction and to highlight the problems. And families and communities who are fighting back in the face of giant corporate power. These people are so inspirational and are at the frontline of the war here.

It's hard to imagine that my journey is now actually over. Scary really. I've worn a radio microphone and had a camera in my face for nearly eight months solid. Keith calculated that I'd had around 700 consecutive meals with workmates. I've almost forgotten that I have got a life and friends back home at all. This whole trip has engulfed my very being. I've lived and breathed the Amazon and this documentary series for three percent of my adult life to date. And now it's over. Bloody hell. What's been going on with the rest of the world for God's sake? How weird. I'll find out soon enough.

So now to the programmes. Hopefully we have been able to show some of these going-ons and highlight the problems of our blind uncontrolled consumerism, but it is hard to do so without making our audiences feel uncomfortable and want to turn over. And it's hard for me to express such findings without showing that I am as much a part of the problem as everyone watching at home. The big editing process is the next phase for those making this series where this sort of fine tuning can be accomplished.

I finally want to thank everyone who has been involved in the making of this epic series. All the researchers and producers, technicians and crew who I've got to know so well. Also those people who have been involved in the making of this website. It's been something of an epic for all concerned and it may be over for me for a little while but it certainly isn't over for everyone else. Thanks guys. It's been emotional.

Let's all take an interest and ethically vote with our wallets as well as the ballot to save the Amazon.

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