The Best Journey of Borneo

The Story of Veracruz

An inspirational writing taken from the story of the orangutan journey of our founder with Joan and Bruce (US), back in 2018.


6/9/20244 min read

Joan and her husband, Bruce, warmly introduced themselves to their guide, who would take them to one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. The guide reciprocated the warm welcome, connecting with the couple who were at a turning point in their lives, seeking renewal. This journey held deep meaning for the guide.

That afternoon, their tour boat departed from a harbor town in a bay on the island of Kalimantan, the world's third-largest island, its name derived from ancient Sanskrit words meaning "land of heat." They began their adventure to a National Park, a beautiful and peaceful place with warm tropical air blowing. The weather that day was in stark contrast to the rainy days preceding it; the sun was friendlier this time, though still hot.

Throughout their journey to discover the orangutans, "Old Cousins" of the primate family, the couple, who had left behind the glamorous life of artists in the "Big Apple" nearly three decades ago for the sake of their children's growth, shared many life experiences and important decisions they had made. Joan had previously been an agent for artists and entertainment stars in Hollywood, while her husband was a theater artist and commercial figure in the United States.

A small village in the ancient city of Spoleto, in the Umbria region, two hours from the heart of Rome, became the place where they began to rebuild their lives and raise their only son. Two decades later, when their son decided to return to the "Land of Freedom" and start his own business, Joan and her husband began their adventure traveling around the world.

Asia, the "Yellow Continent," became their favorite place to spend much of their time enjoying their golden years. They always chose to stay at least a few months in a region to truly experience life like the locals. "It's quite odd for a white person like me not to like cold weather," Joan told the guide with a laugh.

On the afternoon of the second day, their small boat entered the shaded jungle canopy with the reflection of the clear sky vividly visible on the water. "The Reflection of Eden" was the popular description for the place they were in at that moment. Their destination that day was one of the most historic sites in the primate world, Camp Leakey. For a moment, their attention was drawn to a very beautiful butterfly flying low beside their boat.

"The butterfly and the beautiful river remind us of a place where we once lived in Mexico," Joan remarked. Her husband then added, "Papaloapan was the name of that river; it means 'river of the butterflies' in the ancient language of the native people of Mexico."

"What was the name of the town where you lived there?" The guide tried to follow the topic they were discussing. "It’s Veracruz," Joan replied, "a peaceful little town near the Gulf of Mexico." "Oh, I know that place," the guide responded, trying to share stories about the Franco-Mexican Civil War in the mid-nineteenth century that took place in Mexico.

"No way!" said Joan, looking at the guide with a surprised expression. "You are the first person who clearly knows about Veracruz and its story among so many people we've met throughout our travels in over thirty countries outside of North America," she just continued, still with a look of astonishment.

"Don't be surprised, Joan. I learned about it from a classic western film starring Gary Cooper that I watched last year. Even though I've spent much of my life in a small town, I've learned quite a lot about world history," the guide said with a hearty laugh, addressing Joan's amazement.

"We are the music we listen to, the movies we watch, and the books we read. Since the first day yesterday, your knowledge has been quite extensive in many areas," Joan said to him again.

Veracruz, a historic city whose name comes from the Spanish language. "Vera" means true, and "Cruz" means cross or crossroads. Yes, sometimes many aspects of truth and life feel like being at a crossroads. We have to choose which path to take, each with its own risks.

Their three-day journey went very well, meeting many "Old Cousins" in three different places, and nature seemed very supportive with its clear weather throughout the adventure. For Joan and Bruce, this trip added a new piece to the mosaic of their worldly travels.

The guide fell silent, contemplating. He tried to trace back the missing pieces of himself. Joan's amazed expression and praise about Veracruz took him back to an experience of one of his best journeys years ago, when an influential woman who held four different citizenships wrote a testimonial for him after their five-day journey, "There are few whose energy shines so bright in this world and you are one of them."

Enthusiasm, the crucial element in life; without it, a living soul can feel as though it is in death.

"Reclaim all your honor, surpass everything you've ever achieved, forget those who were unfaithful and left you when you fell, and start rewriting your destiny," the guide's mind screamed louder in the silence of the night in the black river.

"Life is waiting for you, all messed up, but we're alive! We will survive!"

The guide tried to befriend his inner self again, starting to rekindle the small flame of enthusiasm within him. The story about Veracruz had provided the essential fuel to make his soul burn brighter.