What Fascinates You?

Posted: March 3, 2015

In the morning we wake to the final show of rain dancing across the rooftops. Here in the Andes-Amazonian valley, the majority of the 15 feet of rainfall that makes this place a rainforest comes at night. Through a process called orographic rain, the clouds that congregate within the Andes mountains move to the valley as the forest cools. Almost like clockwork, darkness comes but quickly dissipates as lightning flashes above. We fall asleep, listening to the drum of the rain, then awake as it slows from the warmth of the morning sun.

My friend back home reminds me that he hasn’t heard the sound of rain for months. I remember Boston has been covered by around 100 inches of snow since I left less than a month ago. While there is beauty in the snow, I know that it does not bring much life. But the rain — the rain is resurrecting. It is a conductor of a great symphony of hundreds of frogs through the night, birds in the morning, and clashes of thunder as an accompaniment. We are the audience to the daily symphony of the forest.

We rise and head to breakfast. Our plates are filled with papaya and tortillas (Peruvian omelets). As we eat, we converse — about bitcoin, feminism, stories of adventure and experience, sometimes in Español. From the dining hall, we watch a pair of macaws also feasting upon fruit to start their days. We head to the breezeway where a lucky few get to hang in the hammocks as we take part in daily RAP (Reflection Announcements Physicality). Today, a poem about the beauty of existence and a game of telephone pictionary. Then to class. We practice our skills in speaking the Spanish language, discuss the complex relationships between conservation and social welfare, and have a lecture by the Piñi Piñi river. We learn about how we are sitting next to a tributary of the great Amazon River, which makes up 15 percent of the freshwater entering the oceans each year. I dip my boots in its current to cool my feet as we listen.

During our Spanish class, our professor asks me “¿Que te fascina?” (What fascinates you?) I quickly respond, “El mundo natural.” (The natural world). I am fascinated every day here, by the sighting of a new dream-colored insect, by the way the frog we held last night sticks onto your hand like glue, by the way the fog rolls into the mountains every morning. I am also fascinated by the passion and insight of the individuals with whom I spend every day. We have so much knowledge about our environment, our society, and the complexity of the issues we learn about. I am fascinated by how we find these grand and seemingly insurmountable problems to be, well, fascinating.

We are living and breathing in an endlessly fascinating place with endlessly fascinating individuals. When I learned about the Amazon rainforest in the second grade, I only dreamed about exploring one of the greatest forests in the world. Now, we are here — but we need to remember to be here. We can easily follow a routine like the rain. But, we also need to learn to be like the rain, taking the time to breathe with great gusts of wind, imagine with bright lightning flashes of ideas, and bring to life the world around us through our attention.

The rain is conducting a great symphony for us here in the Amazon. Let’s take the time to join in.