A Migrant State of Mind’ started back in 2008 when Christopher Ives and Natalie Magnatta embarked on a 6 month journey through the enchanting country of Peru. Through the request of family and friends, and for our own benefit, as we bond to encounter a great many peculiarities and adventures, we decided to keep a journey, and thus a blog was formed.

Here is a brief history, leading up to our first entries…

Natalie was working on her graduate degree, studying Spanish language acquisition and its effects on non-native speakers, specifically the language’s effects on indigenous peoples. Planning to study at the University of Piura for a semester that fall, the two planned to live in the northern desert city during the semester and travel when they could.

Instead of working all summer at some menial job, we decided to leave at the beginning of July and backpack around the country until that time when Natalie needed to start her studies. Chris found a organization out of Colorado called ‘Village Earth’ which was established to support sustainable development in third world nations and was founded by some of the original minds which established the Peace Corps. The founders were somewhat dissatisfied with the direction of the Peace Corps and established Village Earth to support people in need, not with volunteers, but with directed work and assistance programs.

Having no volunteer opportunities, Village Earth instead suggested that we contact a village leader they were working with in Peru to see if they had any interest in hosting us. Many emails later, to and from the Amazon Rain forest, (Yes there are ways of emailing there, though don’t expect quick responses…) We had planned to live with the Indigenous Shipibo People of the Amazon River Basin, along the Ucayali River for nearly a month. We left on July 2nd – We flew from NYC to Atlanta Georgia, then to Lima Peru, hoped a taxi, then took a nearly 20 hour bus ride over the Andes Mountains to Pucallpa (City of Red Dirt), the most eastern Peruvian city accessible by road on the shores of Ucayali River; the gateway to the Amazon.

East of the Ucayali lie millions of acres of rain forest extending through much of Brazil. We spent a night waiting for Bernardo, the Shipibo ‘Jefe’ (cheif, boss, leader, …), Finally we found him in the sweltering heat of the city, though it was already too late in the day to travel to the village, and Natalie was feeling a little woosey from the bus and new foods. After a night in a hostel, we hoped on a ‘lancha’, a skinny covered boat no more than 6 feet wide and nearly 30 feet long with a loud, unmuffled engine on the back with a long river propeller shaft that looked like a large, thick drinking straw, which the boat captain would dip in and out of the water, nearly horizontally, as to not entangle the propeller with the unseen mysteries beneath the opaque, brown waters.

8 hours later, amid brief stops to let off what one would presume are local residents, who would then wander into the jungle, we arrived at our own nondescript sandy shore. We paid the captain and followed Bernardo and a few others through tall grass and brush, then small shrubs and bushes, then trees tangled with vines and mosses. Then there was a stream, and a small dugout canoe. Bernardo instructed us to, one at a time, board the boat and push off, then, once at the other side, get out and push it back. This was a very small boat, and Chris was feeling wobbly. He feared he might fall into the murky waters and contract some sort of disease, before even laying eyes on the village! Despite his worries and wimpiness, he did as Bernardo instructed and scrambled to the other side. The rest followed and we slowly made our way up a small hill.  There lay a flat, almost groomed dirt road dotted with raised, grass-roof houses, and, oddly enough, power lines.  We both knew we had made a wonderfully adventurous choice and after some introductions, set to chronicling our experiences in our notebooks.

The transcripts of which are now here on this blog, along with a growing list of our other explorations.

We are always looking for our next adventure, both near and far. We explore with curiosity and humility for the vast and diverse world we are set in. Our experiences, our emotions, our questions and ideas – This blog is a window into our hearts, and our dreams. We travel, discover, and question our world, compelled to move, vagabonds by our very nature…

…thank you for sharing in our ‘Migrant State of Mind.’

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