Posted: April 26, 2016

The jungle can be a scary place and there is no way you can enter unprepared. “Do you have enough water? Is this poisonous? Sunscreen? Are you hydrated? Is that a bullet ant? Did I forget to bleach this? Will this mold? How bad do I smell?” I don’t think I’ve gone a day in the jungle without hearing all of these questions, and in time I have come to love them.

At first I have to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of the jungle. Many people come and are immediately mesmerized by the huge leaves, the diverse insects, the biodiversity, the birds, the colors, and the amount of green. I’ve watched enough nature shows to know what beauty to expect but there are definitely uncomfortable parts that Netflix leaves out. I too was impressed by these great things but for our first few days it was overridden by the heat, the uncomfortable sweating, the humidity, and the bug bites. But over the weeks jungle life has become normal. As time passes and memories of the last time I wasn’t sweating moves further and further into the past, I fall more in love with my surroundings. Sitting on my bed within my bug net fortress surrounded by screen walls I can listen to the thunder, the birds, the insects, and all the animals that make this place special. And let me tell you that Amazonian dream that many of us have, as a child, that seems so far fetched and unobtainable as we reach adulthood, is real. The jungle is really turning into everything I imagined it to be.

There is something about putting on my rubber boots, long sleeves, and long pants when it is 85 degrees and 80 percent humidity that makes me feel invincible. The sweating becomes second nature and what matters is the butterflies, the monkeys, the ants, the trees, the sensitive plants, the dung beetles, the macaws, and the peccaries– that is what now finds my attention. The deeper you get, the more the curiosity starts to grow. The jungle is no longer the intimidating, scary, and uncomfortable being it used to be in our first few weeks. Instead I find (not to sound too cheesy) it is mesmerizing.

Standing in the jungle as the sun goes down, listening to the bugs get louder and nighttime jungle come alive as the stars come out is something that you can’t explain but just have to experience. And that experience, that jungle dream, is something that all of us get to have and it is something for which I will be forever grateful. As more and more of us come to find bugs on the inside of us as well as on the outside, we seem to get increasingly comfortable with our surroundings; and the jungle, I love to say, is feeling like home.

→ Biodiversity & Development in the Amazon in Peru