This is truly a “post about nothing” so I decided to illustrate it with one of my favorite local spots: Iguazú Falls (Iguaçu, in Portuguese) located on the Northeast border of Argentina with neighboring Brazil. If you ever visit these parts of the world, take the bus to the falls and see them. They are much bigger than Niagara Falls –no competition intended since God made them both– and you are spared the circus and tattoo parlors. These beauties are surrounded by pure pristine nature. They are a great place to meditate on the greatness of Creation and the mystery of God’s gift to mankind.
Looking at those eighty-plus drops one can get some idea of the rainfall over Central South America. Millions of gallons of water drop some 260 ft rushing by you at amazing speed. That is rainfall collected in the upper Amazonian forest added to the snow melting in the mighty Andes Mountains of Ecuador and Peru. Some high percentage of the life varieties in this planet live in the Amazon Plateau. I have seen only small portions of it, and met some of the people that live there. I am very grateful for having seen so much beauty. I pray that not all of it will be destroyed one day.
Among scientists there is a growing agreement that the Amazonian rain forest is not completely natural. Actually it may have been humanity’s first attempt to creating a supermarket. From the edges of the Beni, in Bolivia, to the shores of the Guyana; from the Andes to Marajó in Brazil, the land is crossed by majestic rivers, similar to the Mississippi and Missouri. The people that populated the Americas before the arrival of the European colonizers formed various nations and tribes. Some of them elected to live in Amazonia and had a number of quasi-religious rules about how to deal with the land. They agreed to burn only trees that did not produce edible or useful fruit nor supported any kind of game. As they moved through the land, the families of hunters-gatherers would not hunt or eat more than what they needed. Most of them laid claim to certain territories, wars were frequent and most times, losing the war meant also that the vanquisher would eat the vanquished –not in a figurative way– since most early peoples of the Americas were cannibals, and some still are.
We do not know how many advanced civilizations lived here. The Mexican Plateau had the Aztecs, Olmecs, Maya, and the Andean Plateau had the Incas and yet another civilization whose name was lost, they occupied the area around modern Northeastern Bolivia. They seem to have been great engineers able to divert the course of the mighty Andean rivers to flood the plains with rich and fertile lime. During that artificial flood season they lived in man-made hills. Those enormous mounds shaped like gigantic American meatloaves had cities on top. The terrain below, fertilized by flooding, held their farmlands. The structures were discovered recently when the canals and mounds were revealed to the human eye from space. Most likely that civilization was wiped out by the plagues (diphtheria, smallpox, viral hepatitis, etc) that the Europeans carried unwittingly into the continent when Columbus arrived in 1492. By the time the first Europeans crossed Amazonia, the jungle had erased almost all trace of those dead cities.
The Americas tell a cautionary tale to the great nations of today. Something as tiny as a virus can put an end to the lives and dreams of many. Some of the remaining indigenous groups tell stories of a glorious time when food was abundant and nations were prosperous until men –puffed with pride– provoked the ire of the gods and received the just punishment for their arrogance. The native nations of today are only the remnant of the great ancient people that were wiped out by a catastrophe of epic proportions.
Please remember to pray for (and if possible donate to) this ministry during Lent season.