As soon as we finished up with finals, it was time to take a trip to the rainforest or as it is called in Spanish, El Oriente. Our sights set for adventures unknown, we boarded our bus and headed northwest to the Amazon. Our bus ride was approximately seven hours until we made it our first destination Puya.
Because it was dark outside at the time of our arrival, it was hard to get a sense of what the rainforest actually looked like. Despite the darkness outside, we were all able to see a huge tarantula staring back at us from the entrance to our hotel. The tarantula was simply a foreshadower of what other creepy bugs and creatures were soon to come our way. After loading our suitcases into our lodge, I decided to take short rest on the bed. I glanced down at my sandle to pull it off and witnessed a jungle bug trying to burrow into my skin. Screaming to my roommate for help, we were able to pull the bug out of my skin. Because my nerves were so shattered after witnessing a bug trying to burrow into my skin, my roommate Allison and I spent the rest of the night sleeping in our program coordinator’s room.
The next day was spent visiting an indigenous community where we hiked through the woods and spent the afternoon jumping off rocks and swimming in the Rio Napo (River Napo). Once the sun started to go down, we headed back to our hostel for a delicious dinner of fresh tilapia that had just been caught that day. That night we slept upstairs in an outdoor loft on simple beds with only mosquito nets separating us from the open air and stars.
The next morning we headed out once again for Cotacocha Lodge. We spent the next two nights in Cotacocha. There was no electricity at Cotacocha Lodge and every night we were given two lanterns to help light our room. While in Cotacoha, we would set out every morning by boat. We spent the next two days hiking, jumping off rocks into waterfalls, visiting an island full of monkeys, and visiting AmaZoonico, a wildlife preservation reserve. I am also very excited to report that I conquered another huge fear! I allowed two men to wrap a thirty foot anaconda around my neck for a picture!
Despite all the fun that we had in the rainforest, it is important to remember the severe destruction that is occurring in the rainforest. Only thirty percent of the original rainforest remains in the world. While we were on a boat, we witnessed an airport being built for the oil executives. It is heartbreaking to think that in twenty years it is possible that we will not have a rainforest left. We must do what we can such as driving less and recycling more to help preserve mother nature.