After a 16-hour bus ride and a two-hour ride in a van, I was more than ready to start my journey into the Amazon. We still had two more hours to go by boat until reaching our lodge but we got to be outside and the view and the jungle air was exactly what I needed. There were stretches of green for as far as the eye could see and the river looked like a blackened mirror. I desperately wanted to soak it all in and remember everything. The boat slowed to a stop and the driver pointed up at a mess of trees in the distance. Somehow, while driving the boat, he had managed to spot a tuft of dark fur way up in a tree and know it was a sloth. Now don’t get me wrong, seeing a sloth is really cool, but what I became more fascinated by was the fact that the people in the jungle can notice the slightest difference of colorations in the plants and spot amazing wildlife. I deemed our boat driver, Ojos Mágicos, Magic Eyes.
We spent the next five days spotting wildlife, swimming in a big lagoon during every sunset, hiking through the jungle, eating some of the best meals I’ve had during my time here, learning about indigenous practices, and being completely and totally unplugged. My favorite animal we saw was the pink river dolphin. We saw them almost every day while boating down the river. The only word I can use to describe them is absolutely majestic. You can see just about the top six inches of their bodies as they come up for air then down the river they go and you see them pop up somewhere completely different. I think I was so entranced by them because they are so peaceful. The jungle itself is so peaceful. Every night we would fall asleep to the sounds of rain hitting the trees or cicadas chirping. My friend, Leela, and I joked that it was like setting a sound machine to “Amazon Rainforest” and then falling asleep.
Now I’m sure you’re all wondering, “But Hannah. What about the bugs???” Yes, there were bugs. Lots of them. And they were really fucking big. On the night hike we basically just spent an hour looking at really humungous spiders. There was a tarantula in our dining room. There were giant centipedes. I accidentally put my hand on a moth the size of a bat. So I didn’t love absolutely everything about the jungle but my friends said I did better than they expected when encountering the Amazon insects. (Can’t forget to mention that they are very good to me in terms of getting rid of bugs for me.)
Despite the bugs, I truly fell in love with the Amazon. It was so refreshing to be completely unplugged. I imagine that part of the reason the people in the jungle have magic eyes is because they don’t spend any time staring at a screen. They are so in touch with nature that instead of responding to a phone lighting up, they’re better at noticing a boa constrictor in the pitch black of night hanging out in a tree. I noticed that when I got off the 16-hour bus ride home, I felt in shock at the noises of buses and people around me. I had gotten so used to the sounds of nature. It felt like I had stepped out of a dream world and back to reality. In the days following, I spent the weekend at the beach with some friends and am starting class again tomorrow. Although I’m happy to get back into a routine again, I know I will return to the jungle someday.