Last week one of my dreams became true: I finally got to visit the Amazonas.
Actually, I have been dreaming about going to the Amazonas for years. So when I found out that part of the Amazonas is located in Colombia (yeah, I didn’t know that before...), I felt like now I had an opportunity. An opportunity that I couldn’t miss.
The planning was not the easiest. Going to the Amazonas from Bogotá is one of the more costly trips. And I only had limited time. Also, I had to travel there all by myself – to one of the (few) places in the world where I did not know a single soul.
But these were not reasons not to go. At least not when there’s something you really want. And I really wanted the Amazonas.
Amazonas turned out to be one of my most amazing adventures. It is definitely one of the most beautiful and inspiring places that I have ever visited in my life. The Amazonas has so much to offer; an incredible number of species, indigenous cultures, amazing food, the incredible Amazonas river (which contains approximately 1/5 of all liquid fresh water in the world), the purest air one can imagine - and so much more.
I was staying in Letitia which is a Colombian city in the Amazonas. Letitia is very close to both Brazil and Peru – so close that when I arrived at Letitia Wednesday night after AIESEC work, I managed to see the city center of Letitia (Colombia), eat Peruvian dinner in Santa Rosa (Peru) and to go have beer and dance in Tabatinga (Brazil). Being at what they call “the Amazonian Triangle”, I got an amazing mix of three very different cultures; their music, dances, food, drinks, language, currency etc. But more than anything, I got the Amazonian culture.
Being in the Amazonas was a completely different experience to anything that I have ever tried before. The jungle and the river are full of adventures – and dangers. I remember one of my favorite guides, Manuel, told me that: “The Amazonas is not for everybody”. In a way, it was hard for me to understand why he would say that – because I loved every moment in the Amazonas. But thinking about it, Amazonas is full of challenges and dangers. As our indigenous Amazonian guides told us, you never know which plant, insect or animal you can touch. Some trees have dangerous thorns that you cannot see with the blue eye. Some plants, insects, and animals can be deadly. Besides, the tour around in the jungle demands you to be enduring. With a tiring climate (with a humidity of around 90 %), sometimes a lot of rain and definitely a lot of walking around – the Amazonas may attract some more than others. But it definitely attracted me.
I have always loved nature. Coming from the countryside, I have always been surrounded by amazing nature. I have been on several hunting trips with my father when I was younger – and with him, I grew up learning about nature.
But the Amazonas became a whole new world to me, and I learned so much from it. I learned so much about different plants and insects. About their capabilities to adapt. What they do to humans – and what humans have done to them. I have learned about the power of nature – and I have learned that nature is stronger than we are as humans. Therefore, we need to respect the nature. We need to treat the nature as it deserves to be treated. Human is not the owner of nature – no, nature is the owner of humans (and many other species).
One indigenous Amazonian told me something that gave me food for thought: “Naturaleza está todo” – meaning that nature is everything. I think he is very right – and I think we sometimes forget this.
The Amazonas made me want to learn much more about nature. It made me more aware of environmental issues and the impact human has on nature. As a biologist told me “There is no bad nature; no bad plants, no bad animals… There’s only humans managing nature in a bad way”. An example could be the poppy plant. It has been used to produce drugs. Drugs that have caused a lot of damage to humans. But the very same plant has also been used to produce morphine. Something that has helped millions of sick human beings throughout history. This – and many other plants and animals – show us that human can completely transform the effects of nature.
I also learned the history of how the Europeans and Americans have come to the Amazonas and destroyed amazing natural areas. I learned about the terrible thing indigenous have been through. I learned about some of the severe consequences of certain human interactions in nature. And I learned why it is important that we take care of the nature around us.
I definitely feel like this was not my last time in the Amazonas. I fell completely in love – and I am afraid it is not the kind of love that will go away anytime soon.