When I was in elementary school, I remember learning all about the rainforest. I learned about toucans, jaguars, trees, but also about the major issues that endangered the forest such as deforestation and oil drilling. Little did I know that one day I would actually be in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.
From November 20-23rd, I was at the Tiputini Biological Diversity Station located along the Tiputini River near the Yasuni National Park. The university I am attending, USFQ, owns and operates this station along with Boston University. Also, Tiputini has been said to be greatest biological diverse hotspot in the world, and it was incredible to experience.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that the rainforest is not an easy destination. At 4:30 am on Friday we took a bus to the airport to catch our flight to Coca. Once in Coca we took a short bus ride to a hotel, which is located near a dock. Nearly two hours on a “speedboat” later, we arrived at our next site. From there we took another bus for almost two hours, and then we finally took another boat down the Tiputini River. The last boat ride was exciting because we passed several indigenous people washing clothes or fishing in the river, and were also able to see unique wildlife such as parrots.
I felt the tension between the wildlife preservation and the desire to drill for oil. It was a weird feeling to be passing by oil companies on the way to the rainforest, and to see reality of the issues surrounding preserving the forest come to life.
One of the first things I noticed was the climate change. The forest was hot, but more than that the humidity was outrageous. The humidity is so bad there that we had to put all of our electronics in a “dry box” so they would not get damaged.
I spent most of my time there hiking, which I did not mind at all. Our guide was like an ancient sage of the rainforest, so I appreciated all the knowledge he imparted. I saw a lot of weird bugs, animal tracks, frogs, birds and monkeys, which was surreal.
During one of our hikes, we climbed to the top of this tower that overlooked the rainforest. The platform stood above the treetops, and it was breath-taking to be able to look down at the rainforest. It was a different perspective that I definitely enjoyed. It gave my neck a rest to watch the monkeys swinging below me instead of looking up at them.
A definite highlight of the trip was being able to float down the river in the Amazon. I jumped off the boat into the river and just let the current take me. We all laughed, took in our surroundings, and tried our best to savor the moment.
Contrary to what you would think, the food was amazing, and I have been dreaming about that food ever since I’ve left. We had Chinese stir-fry, pasta, and most importantly, THERE WAS PEANUT BUTTER. You are probably unimpressed by this list of food, but when you haven’t had most of these foods since August, it is a big deal!
If you haven’t noticed by now, I like to find themes or ways to connect my experiences here to real life. One thing I realized in this massive ecosystem was that everything does its part. Each animal, insect, or plant has their role, and they stick to it. A jaguar doesn’t try and fly like the birds do, and the birds don’t try and provide shade for the forest like the trees do. It would be absolutely ridiculous if that happened.
So why aren’t humans like that? People are constantly trying to be people they aren’t, and by doing so are withholding their gifts from the world. The rainforest works well because each living organism knows what their purpose and strength is, and they stick to that. They don’t look at everything they can’t do and see it as a restriction, but they thrive within their boundaries.
Each person has a gifting that only they can impart on the world. So do what you do, and do it well.