Nature is gift-wrapping us

A story told by Carine Geboers Ghent

Carine is a bridge builder at the Holiday Participation Centre and a proud mum of two small children.

2002. Tikal, Guatemala. Following the footsteps of their guide, Carine and Nele forage through the jungle. Carine is looking forward to their destination: wonderful temples revealing the story of their guide’s legendary ancestors, the Maya.


Mutual love

They are led through their day tour by a genuine Mayan descendant. Trudging through the tropical forest, the guide talks passionately about nature, how the Maya are at one with nature and nature is at one with them. A mutual love, he says. As a testament to these strong ties, the guide suddenly stops in his tracks and asks “do you want to see my lady friend?” He gets hold of a stick, spits on it and pokes around in the soil with it.

There she is, quietly crawling to the surface, recognising his smell: ‘Mrs Tarantula’ says the guide with a smile. There’s nothing creepy or menacing about it, just mutual love. The animals and insects are like playground friends for the Maya. Watching the scene unfold, Carine reflects upon how we Westerners are disconnected from nature.

Nature as a gift wrapping

After their meeting with Mrs Tarantula, the trio plods on and the guide continues to tell stories. His ancestors were gruesomely exterminated and the temples fell into disuse. Nature overgrew the pyramids in a few decennia. They were wrapped in, so to speak. A wondrously beautiful gift wrapping.

Chewing gum

The temples were partially unwrapped, by “Chicleteros”, poaching for the region’s distinctive rubber trees. Carine and her friend started their climb. What Carine felt upon reaching the top was overwhelming, almost indescribable. The awesomeness of nature became clear to her once again. Nature will survive us, she felt, but if humanity is to endure, a few powerful leaders need to take drastic decisions.

Everywhere I looked I felt this pleasant force. This comforting roof of greenery resonated straight to my core. It was so intense, almost like a religious experience! Carine Geboers

Carine: “Everywhere I looked I felt this pleasant force. I could feel the trees growing, taste the humidity, breathe in the heat, see the most beautiful colour patterns fly back and forth beneath me, hear rustling everywhere, the screaming of apes, the joyful song of birds. I had never experienced the world in that way. This comforting roof of greenery resonated straight to my core. It was so intense, almost like a religious experience!”


Upon reaching the top of the mountain, Carine suddenly felt confident in the power of nature. “Nature will always be here, maybe in a different form, but she will survive”, said Carine. “I felt hope. An epiphany that taught me about the strength of nature! Nature finds a way! If a handful of well-placed people could make just a few good decisions, it would be all right”.

Just a few…

What could be possible as a result of just a few sensible decisions, is what Carine has been wondering ever since. “What if a handful of powerful individuals stopped acting childishly and started thinking long term? How quickly could nature turn our mistakes into a nicely wrapped present?” Carine found the answer up there on the mountain: “a lot can change, and fast”, she says. A message of hope.

Authored by Wendy Van de Cruys Ghent