Categories Opinion Column

What the Travel Industry Can Learn from Ancestral Cultures

Written By: Jesús Parrilla, Principal, Luxury Frontiers

Over the past decade, I have been fortunate to travel—both for work and for pleasure—to remote areas of Latin America, where life is still mostly untouched by modern society, where nature largely unspoiled, and where ancestral cultures are still holding onto their deeply-guarded knowledge and wisdom.

Some of these trips have included the Brazilian Amazon, Bolivian high plains, the Peruvian Andes, and the Colombian Sierra Nevada. There, I have had the great fortune to spend time with each destination’s native peoples. I have come to learn and appreciate their practice of natural law or the law of origin, their understanding of the world, and their relationship with our planet. What most stood out to me was how different each community’s cultures and traditions were. Despite their differences, however, they all shared a common thread: a mysticism and a profound sense of love and harmony with their surroundings. This wisdom they treasure dearly.

In separate discussions, I raised two of my favorite subjects: land preservation and the effects of climate change. People from these communities articulated with a great deal of assertiveness how they have witnessed—beyond the normal climate cycle brought about by seasonal La Niña or El Niño effects—more pronounced natural phenomena such as frost, droughts, and heavy rains, all of which have had an impact on global weather patterns.

For them, there is a spiritual dimension to everything and earth has no owner, much less the human race. Respect toward the elements—earth, air, water, and fire—runs deep. They believe that all imbalances can be traced back to the moment we adopt hubristic attitudes toward Mother Earth. But ultimately ancestral communities know that the earth will continue its natural course: evolving, adapting, and transforming beyond the living creatures that inhabit it. Humankind, on the other hand, will not be so lucky.

My work at Luxury Frontiers—where I craft and develop travel concepts and transformative experiences—has been deeply rooted in genuineness, influenced by environmental stewardship, in sync with the mysticism of nature’s elements, and drawing inspiration from ancestral spirituality and wisdom.

I believe there’s a lot to learn from our native peoples and we would be wise to abandon our indifference towards Mother Earth. Private citizens, travel companies, and other industries must collectively recognize the rights of nature and commit to working every day for a better, safer world that is in balance with Mother Earth. We all have a fiduciary duty to our planet, especially to the other creatures with whom we share this world.