If you've been paying attention, then you should already know that any team that raises over £1000 for Cool Earth are automatically entered into a draw to win a trip to Peru. This trip is designed so that the lucky team can see just how much of a difference their efforts are actually making. They also get to have a bloody good adventure. Wandering around the rainforest, meeting the local tribes, getting eaten by snakes, that sort of thing.
The competion winners for 2017 will be named this coming Thursday.
Our very own endangered creature Mr Matt escorted the winning team on their Peruvian perambulation last year where he managed to impress the Ashaninka people with his fine beard. Over to you Mr Matt...
"When the chance came to head into the Peruvian Amazon with Cool Earth to see the projects and meet first-hand the local tribes they work with, I was rather excited. I don't do excitement all that much, but I did have a few quivering ripples in my gin that day.
It's hard to put into words. The entire journey was not only excruciatingly brilliant but also painfully humbling. The local tribes live an enviable simple life. It's just so absolutely different from the parts of the world we've already fucked up and that is precisely why it's so important that we preserve it.
It's hard not to feel good when you're four days away from the nearest contact with the outside world, and being completely off the grid makes you realise just how fucking terrible most of the grid is. Jungle life, of course, comes with its problems too though. The daily fight against loggers and other arseholes wanting to mangle the rainforest for profit is very, very real.
Cool Earth not only do their bit to save the physical environment but also do their best to improve life for the locals. They build fish ponds, teach sustainable agriculture, help introduce chicken farming and educate the communities about the importance of a varied diet and sanitation to help fight diseases such as malnutrition, which is sadly rife.
Of course, old habits die hard, and Cool Earth are there to mentor and suggest rather than enforce, but the results are already extremely noticeable. A testament to this was me seeing brave, noble and respected elders of the community almost brought to tears by the hugely positive changes they have seen within their own society and by the prospect of Cool Earth leaving them to fend for themselves again. Cool Earth's policy is to make contact, work with the local communities as much as possible, and then eventually leave them to it.
This was supposed to be a quick summary of my trip and I'm already harping on, and haven't even mentioned the trees, plants and wildlife. Haven't yet had a chance to touch upon the endless medicine cabinet they call the forest, the flowers we ate that made your mouth explode, the eating of grubs, the licking of ants, the ceremonial customs we both witnessed and engaged in, the psychoactive medicines, the bows, the arrows, the smell of a fire, and the endless bowls of Masato to name but a few. I could go on, for a lot longer than is perhaps healthy.
Take these three nuggets with you...
If you raise more than £1000 this could also be you.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most extraordinary experiences I've ever experienced.
The money you raise has a large, and very real impact, so keep buggering on.
(and no, the locals didn't like my beard. They crave black hair on the head, and none on the face, so to them - with my shining bald noggin and out of control facial hair - my upside down head was about as revolting physically as can be - still, they can't be right about everything)."
Good luck to any of you that are in with a chance of winning.
For those of you who are on upcoming adventures - the same competition will be running next year, so get rattling those collection tins.