I roll over in bed and turn off the beeping alarm. 4:45. The room around me is pitch-black and I carefully reach out under my mosquito net to grab my head torch.
With the torch lit on the lowest level, I sneak out from the pod, leaving my sleeping roommates behind. Once outside, I stop for a second to look up at the starry sky above. Thousands and yet thousands of stars look down at me. Far away from light pollution, they shine stronger and clearer than I have ever seen them before. All of a sudden I feel very small. Just one out of billions and yet billions.
My thoughts get interrupted by a sudden crack among the trees next to me. I shine my torch in the direction of the sound, but I know it is useless. The thick vegetation of the rainforest works as the perfect hide and whatever caused the sound is long gone, hidden in the shadows.
I continue down the well-trodden path through the garden towards the steep stairs that leads down to the beach. As I reach the riverbank the stars have started to fade. I take my seat on the smooth rocks, ready for the show that is about to start.
Slowly, the sky starts to shift in the most beautiful shades of pink and orange. The river reflects the scenery above and all of a sudden it looks like the whole world is burning.
I see two black silhouettes appear on the horizon. Even before I can distinguish their coloration, their high pitch dinosaur-like calls give them away. Blue-and-yellow macaws. Just like every other morning the macaws, together with their smaller relatives parrots and parakeets, cross the river to feed at the clay-licks. The macaws almost always come in pairs, whereas the parakeets and parrots can fly in in herds of tens, creating dancing patterns of silhouettes on the sky.
The colorful birds’ chatter together with the rippling sound of the river and the humming tunes of insects nearby creates a nearly enchanting symphony. I sit there on the beach, trying to take it all in. There I am, on a riverbank next to the Alto Madre de Dios River in Peru. I am in the Amazon. And not just that, I am just outside of the Manu National Park, the most biodiverse place on earth.
For three months now I have been lucky enough to call this place home. Almost daily I have roamed the trails and explored the surrounding rainforest. And not a single time it has ceased to amaze me.
Everything. From the hard-working leaf cutter ants that cover the leaf-littered floor to the majestic jaguar hiding in the bushes, they all have their place in this diverse eco-system. No matter if they are each other’s mortal enemy or if they live in a beautiful symbiosis, they depend on each other.
No matter how many times I go out in the forest. No matter how many hours I spend within the green depths of the Amazon basin. I will never get enough. With a place so buzzing of life no visit will ever be the same.
While I sit there by the river I wonder what this day will have in store for me. Another day of surveying the regenerating rainforest. What will we encounter? Monkeys, probably. Packs of squirrel monkeys rapidly jumping from branch to branch meters from your head is not a rare sight. So numerous that the cracking in the trees almost sounds like a heavy rainfall pounding on the branches Maybe a snake if we are lucky. Or unlucky as some would express it.
We will see.
By the time the sun has risen above the tree line, the macaws have started to head back to their nesting grounds. Thoughtlessly, I scratch my ankle. The antagonizing bites of sandflies is an inevitable consequence of a rest on the rocks.
Even though this was not my first jungle sunrise, and definitely not my last, it was still worth every itchy bite and every minute less of sleep. Because right there on the riverbank, surrounded by life and color, I do not feel small anymore. Right there, I feel like I am part of something bigger. A part of life itself. Right there, I am my favorite version of myself and that is why it is, without a doubt, my favorite place on earth.
- Ida Karlsson
- : I am a 22-year-old girl, born and raised on the Swedish countryside. My passion for writing developed into a bachelor degree in media and communication science. After university I took a leap of faith in to the business of conservation, and ended up in Peru as multimedia intern with the organization Crees. Every second in the jungle made me realize more and more, this was what I was meant to do.
- : https://idakarlsson1997.wixsite.com/ida-karlsson
- : adult_(19_and_over_as_of_31st_december_2019)
- : This is the first time this story has been published.