When asked what being a global gypsy means to her, Zoe Tryon summed herself up perfectly: “Someone who lives fluidly, following paths guided by her heart, the wind, or the lure of adventure or quest.” As an activist, explorer and founder of One of the Tribe, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of indigenous cultures, Zoe certainly walks the talk. She has lived in more places than most have visited, including London, Sydney, Los Angeles, New York, Delhi and Florence, only to name a few, not to mention the jungle frontier towns of the Amazon, where she spends six months at a time immersed in the local tribes. Her passion for the jungle and its inhabitants have become her life’s work, despite the lack of creature comforts like running water and electricity. Here, Zoe tells us everything from her jungle survival tips to her most prized possession and all of her incredible experiences in between.
CURRENT LOCATION: The Berkshires, MA, USA.
OCCUPATION: Writer, activist, adventurer and artist.
PASSIONS: Adventure sets my heart ablaze. I am hugely passionate about the Amazon, but also the wilderness in general and the indigenous peoples who thrive in some of the harshest environments on earth – it’s so important that they are able to be the architects of their own futures. I adore my family and friends so much my heart squeezes when I think about how bloody lucky I am. I am also keen about social and environmental justice, sustainability andspiritual fulfillment. Reading is a great life long hobby of mine, and I love my kindle because that means I can have 263 books with me at all times. I love cooking vegan treats that taste so delicious, no one even knows they are good for you. I have a thing for chocolate, a great cup of Chai, fabulous conversations and, lastly, sustainable design.
BEAUTY AND STYLE TIPS FOR SURVIVING THE JUNGLE: A fabulous, huge (but light) pair of earrings and a bit of mascara makes me feel great no matter what. I always have a little bottle of chemical free face wash on me. In the jungle, you don't need any moisturizer because it’s so humid. Since I live with indigenous people who paint their faces daily with red paint from the achiote fruit, I join them, and paint my face too. I wear rubber boots in the forest to protect myself from snake bites, and, I find baggy wicking pants are best to avoid mosquito bites. I always wear Carolyn Roumeguere jewels in the jungle. Two of my favorite pieces of hers are a beautiful ring with an angel to keep me safe, and a boar tooth earring that I often pair with a feather another earring.
Zoe in a river boat in the Amazon
NAME THREE THINGS THAT INSPIRE YOU: Nature is my greatest inspiration. She literally takes my breath away… indigenous people and their worldview, spirituality and relationship with the earth… and beauty in all its forms.
SPIRIT ANIMAL: Black jaguar
DREAM DESTINATION: Somewhere I haven’t been yet.
ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE YOUR TEENAGE SELF: Do not worry what others think. Trust your intuition and travel more. And, if you are ever feeling down, being helpful to others can actually result in being most helpful to yourself.
MOST-PRIZED SOUVENIR: The most beautiful pair of earrings made from red and yellow hip feathers of the white breasted toucan, that were given to me by one of my students, when I taught at a tiny school in the Amazon. For the past eight years, I wear them whenever I need the strength of the forest. They remind me why I continue to do what I do.
STRANGEST/CRAZIEST PLACE YOU’VE EVER SPENT THE NIGHT: I have spent the night in many crazy places, although the craziest was when I was staying with a family who were distant relatives of the Tageri, who live in voluntary isolation. They are known for spearing anyone who comes into their territory and I didn't realize how geographically close we were to them at the time. I realized the roof of the hut I slept in, was covered in mud from the river, which was a sign that they had seen me but decided not to kill me.
NAME ONE EXPERIENCE THAT PUSHED YOU BEYOND YOUR LIMITS. I walked 1,072 kilometers alone through Spain. I walked 52 kilometers, starting at 4 a.m. on the last day and ended up running the last stretch to get to civilization before sunset.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ZOE TYRON? Television could be a great medium to best spread the word about indigenous people and the agriculture threats and my hope is, more people will get involved and want to help make a change. In the meantime, I will continue to lead trips to indigenous territories, and support my indigenous friends in any possible way that I can.
COMPLETE THE SENTENCE: I travel to… learn more about the world and about myself.
Zoe wearing Carolyn Roumeguere jewelry in Hudson, New York