A Cure for the Soul: The Amazon Rainforest

Eudora Erickson
September 17, 2015


I’m at a loss.  How can I possibly describe my trip to the Amazon in words?

I just…Can’t. 

Tiputini was the single most asdfkasdjf place I have ever been to in my life (I’m struggling here, can’t you tell?)

“Eudora you’re crazy–you were there for a week. Didn’t you just see trees and some animals?”

OKAY yes I was only there for a week, but for a kid who literally has dreams about the Amazon (and after having spent an entire summer surrounded by buildings in NYC)–this was a huge deal. 

So, the Amazon. A Cure for the Soul. Yep-I left the Amazon with life mysteries solved...hear me out?

STEP 1: Give up all expectations when entering the jungle (or, perhaps, when entering anywhere)
Going to my “Place of Dreams” holds a lot of weight. It's true-I picture myself frolicking with jaguars and monkeys every night before I fall asleep. So, while it was hard for me to let go of my “vision”, I knew it was necessary for me to do in order to fully embrace the experience.  (Pleasant surprises > disappointment, right?)

Hands down–it was the easiest and best decision I made. 
Easiest? Well, when you travel 30 min by plane, 30 min by bus, 2 hour by boat, 2 hours by truck, and another 2 hours by boat to just get to Tiputini (the research station owned by USFQ in Ecuador’s Amazon region), your mind is already blown BEFORE even entering the jungle.

Best? It was hard to resist, but I decided not to create a list of every animal I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO SEE (well, other than the bats). It made it all the more exciting to see the amazing wildlife. We went hiking for at least 6 hours a day, and I chased monkeys for a good amount of that time. In total I saw: 6 species of monkeys, 3 species of bats, 30+ species of birds and spiders, a pink river dolphin, a caiman, and more.

STEP 2: Give up your obsession with technology and living in the future
Ohhhh technology. It is pretty depressing to think about how dependent we are on technology and social media-it took me a trip to the Amazon to give a lot of it up. We stayed in cabins with 6 hours of electricity a day with no internet and no hot water, but it was the best experience to “let everything go”. 

Waking up at 4:45am to the singing of birds, rarely knowing what time it is, and taking pictures for memories rather than just for social media…Definitely my kind of lifestyle.

They say 5 minutes of sunshine a day could protect us against insomnia, depression, and even cancer. Spending all day living and breathing the Amazon Rainforest? I couldn’t stop smiling! It was a place where we would spend 20 minutes every day before dinner watching bats fly around the Tiputini River while planning where we could walk to find the coolest tarantulas.

Step 3: Realize that you are a mere human aka just another member of Planet Earth
After encountering the largest trees I have ever seen (and climbing to the top of one of them!), swimming with anacondas and caiman who could eat me at any moment, and almost touching an ant with a bite that hurts as much as getting shot with a bullet…I was humbled, to say the least.

Everything in the Amazon has a purpose, and it was amazing to learn how these ecosystems stay balanced. Each of us on the trip gave a presentation on an animal, and we learned about species ranging from termites to tapirs.  All of these species play an integral role in the forest, and I saw how important it is to conserve and keep this land undisrupted. There is so much we can learn from these forests, but we can’t do this if we continue to prioritize the high maintenance needs of one species over the thousands of species that can only survive in the Amazon.  Humans are only one small part of a big world puzzle.

I left the Amazon covered in 41 new bug bites, with only mud-covered clothes, and with hair and skin that was used to being perpetually sweaty and wet from the extreme humidity. But I also left with a new appreciation for life, a promise to return again to the forest (for at least 3 months next time), and a passion to protect these forests that have so much to teach us about the world.  

Best. Field Trip. Ever.


Eudora Erickson

<p><span style="color: rgb(85, 85, 85); font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'Lucida Sans', Verdana, Tahoma, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 18px;">Senior at the University of Rochester studying economics, sustainability, and art. Pursuing a career in the corporate world but not-so-secretly a nature obsessed forest kid from Oregon and New Mexico.</span></p>

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