The sweat and humidity is starting to normalize, but the locals say it is a hotter day than normal. Hmm.

Today we worked on getting situated in our residence for our stay. One room and one bathroom for all 4 of us, but we get along great and it was an easy transition. Our dorm mother Maria is the nicest lady around, and I am excited to reside in her care for these 2 months. She works so hard, as well as her husband Julio. We arrived right at the end of a renovation, which looked simple but in reality was much more.

We had some downtime in the evening and Abi and I were able to follow Julio up to the platform he built for mediation and yoga groups.

A narrow path, only distinguishable from the jungle floor because of the exposed roots that cross it, led us about halfway up a sloping hill. The same fauna that provided shade from the momentary sun rays also prevented us from seeing down the way we came. It was one of a handful of times yet that the sun peaked out from the angry clouds that are currently dropping a rainstorm that would shame Texas weather.

The path ended at a wooden platform about 20 feet wide by 10 feet long, Covered with a protective roof, we sat on it to overlook a tributary that we had crossed on our way up. Julio mentioned how the water level was low, and it was relatively clear for the rainy season.

As the water rushed down past us, Julio talked about his work hauling the materials for the platform, one trip at a time, carrying what he could on his back as he beat that path endless times. He caressed one of 6 natural trunk beams, about 1 foot wide and 8 feet tall, and looked at his work proudly. I could only look away in awe, feeling unworthy of sitting on the result of his labor.

After his son-in-law joined our trio and took Julio on a secondary discussion about a possible fence line, Abi mentioned how cool the water must be.

One thing led to another, and before we knew it we were sitting on mossy rocks about mid-calf into the water. The water felt amazing on my ankles after the hike.

Abi tried to rest on a log that had fallen across the tributary, and to both our surprises, an army (and I do not say this lightly) was crossing with leaves and returning empty handed. From our viewpoint 10 feet away, we witnessed one of “Planet Earth’s” highlight moments from their documentary. No words to describe it this feeling.

The number and pace of the ants, if you squinted your eyes and tilted your head, looked like an extended arm of the jungle, busy with activity.  You could only follow one ant for so long before you lost it in the multitude of comrades.

My mind, after my body relaxed, connected Julio with the ants:

Carrying what they need on their backs
Not waiting on others to do the work they set out to do.
Not staying still.

It is the way of life in this part of the jungle- survival by activity. Julio is 60 years old, and while the hardship of Punta Arenas is apparent on his features, the satisfaction of his work overpowers his smile. Is it something in the water?

We watched various items float past us- leaves, sticks, small rocks, and then an ant. Abi returned it to its army using a leaf, and once on the Tributary Bridge, it knew exactly how to rejoin the snaking arm of its comrades. Like an instinct. Like a survival instinct.

If I can leave this paradise of a country with even half the motivation of those who inhabit it, that would be a blessing. Only day 2, and I am going to bed now with the aspirations of a young intern surrounded by the restlessness of the jungle, which is beginning to make me feel restless myself.

Maricella Garcia

Photo Credits: Abi and Julio’s Son In Law
*Note- I was wet because I had rinsed off in the shower earlier and threw my dress on without drying.. but is anything ever really dry here?

Quote of the Day:
“Everything is Hot In The Jungle”