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Wade Davis


“I’m very proud and happy to say that I wouldn’t write the way I write, I wouldn’t think the way I think, I wouldn’t treat gay people the way I treat gay people, I wouldn’t treat women the way I treat women, I wouldn’t understand the power and resonance of biology- of nature itself, if I hadn’t taken psychedelics.”

May 26, 2022 4:40 pm

May 26, 2022 7:25 pm

Wade Davis is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Author of 23 books, including One RiverThe Wayfinders and Into the Silence, winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top nonfiction prize in the English language, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series written and produced for the NGS. Davis, one of 20 Honorary Members of the Explorers Club, is the recipient of 12 honorary degrees, as well as the 2009 Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the 2011 Explorers Medal, the 2012 David Fairchild Medal for botanical exploration, the 2015 Centennial Medal of Harvard University, the 2017 Roy Chapman Andrews Society’s Distinguished Explorer Award, the 2017 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration, and the 2018 Mungo Park Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia. His latest book is Magdalena: River of Dreams, Knopf, 2020.



Coca: The Divine Leaf of Immortality

Coca is less a high than a meditation. The etiquette of hallpay, the totality of the act of using the plant – the exchange and salutations, the way one places the leaves in the mouth, the attitude of reverence and respect- in a very real sense defines what it means to be Runakuna, a child of Pachamama. To chew coca is to transcend self and become part of the social, moral and spiritual nexus that gives meaning to life. To be without coca is a form of social and spiritual death, an excommunication from existence itself. Efforts to deny access to the leaves, to eradicate the traditional fields, are the policies of cultural genocide. Our mission is to stimulate research that will document coca’s medical and therapeutic benefits, with the goal of making available for all people a plant that promises to improve their well-being and ease the day-to-day challenges of their lives. The liberation of the leaves will undermine the black-market trade, and reduce deforestation by opening up for cultivation lands long ago cleared and abandoned, even while supporting the 120,000 Colombian families who grow the plant for a living, allowing them to sever their ties to the cartels. Through taxation, a legal market in coca will generate for Colombia the revenues that will allow a long-suffering nation to pay the price of peace, having drained its treasury for 50 years to cover the costs of a war only made possible by the sordid profits of prohibition.