After arriving in Peru, I was a delirious mess of uncertainty and soreness for home and future. But thoughts of where I ought to be and how I ought to be feeling felt irrelevant: I’m in Peru, and it’s right above all else. In retrospect, the eight hour road trip just from Cusco to Villa Carmen was merely a foretaste of the uncomfortableness we would learn to appreciate and embrace the coming days, weeks, months. No matter how clearly the SFS website and coordinators explain life within Villa Carmen, this immersive, extreme jungle experience can’t be comprehended until you’re living within it.

It’s superb in countless ways, and I wonder how I could ever feel underwhelmed on this planet. Everything here feels active, rambunctious even. Outside our dorm, tortoises walk laps around a small, enclosed oasis. Hammocks hang from wooden beams of the breezeway and are surrounded by shady, mossy vegetation, hanging vines and flowers. Two macaws, Lorenzo and Diablo. fly overhead daily and often watch us while we wash dishes. Clumsy rhinoceros beetles fly and tap against our screened-in quarters. The organic gardens and surrounding area is home to pineapples, guava, passion fruit, watermelon, coconut, jackfruit, and so many kinds of peppers. A yurt-style hut where classes are usually held overlooks the dock and fish pond. Everywhere appears to be green in abundance, flecked with brilliantly hued plants. Mornings tend to be clouded, cool and downright dreamy—a fantastic time for yoga. After large rains, the trees seem iridescent in their dewiness and forest sounds accentuate.

And what would the Amazon be without its hefty share of bats, spiders, snakes, insects, caterpillars and the like? Life after 5:00 PM demands a few more precautions and heightened awareness wherever you step, but these elements only make for a more adventurous and educational program. The first week, my greatest obstacle was the heat and humidity, which doesn’t as much seep into me, but falls over me and runs in rivers down skin. However I’ve become acclimated to the weather conditions. I miss home and everyone I associate with it, but my drive for newness, excitement, exploration feels rekindled now. To me, this world is novel and I’m a thin-skinned, wide-eyed child, earnest in my want to learn. There will be easier days and harder days, and my hope is to cherish them alike, if only to live more sincerely.