T minus 6 days until I depart to a part of the world that I have only dreamed of experiencing. On Saturday, May 23rd I will be flying from Vancouver to Toronto and then off to South America. Am I ready? Mentally, one hundred percent; physically, high eighties. My world pre-departure has been a whirlwind.
The Colombian Amazon has been a place of wonder to me from my very early childhood. I read books, marveled at photographs and even studied aspects of its geography in university. As soon as I heard about the Amazon field school, I knew it was something I had to do. I told myself that somehow I would find the time, funds and support to do this and with that determination, this experience of a lifetime has come to fruition. My family and friends have given unwavering support and I was blessed to receive this scholarship.
So how am I feeling right at this moment? I am nervous, anxious and ecstatic. I still have to layout all the kit that I have accumulated over the months and see what I am missing. I am worried about the heat of the Amazon and how my body will react. I am worried about the spiders. Oh the spiders! But I have hopes this experience will help me overcome my phobia so that I can one day live in harmony with these wonderful and important creatures.
While I am away I will be working on a visual project to show the impact studying abroad can have, and I cannot wait to start. I am struggling with what equipment to take and how I am going to carry it all, but as departure looms I am confident I will figure that out. I have all the necessities taken care of: long-sleeved breathable moisture wicking clothing, vaccinations, malaria pills, fitted backpack, water bottles, mosquito repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. The last thing I need to do is get my Canadian currency exchanged into American dollars and Colombian pesos and I am pretty much set.
Our itinerary on this trip sounds wonderful. We will be starting off in Bogota, which has similar climate to Vancouver and will be spending four days experiencing what it is like to live in a large Colombian city. From there, we will fly down to the lower part of the county to a smaller city called Leticia. This city is half in Colombia and half in Brazil and across the water is Peru. They have giant markets in this smaller city, often called the gateway to the Amazon. From here we will be taking a boat up the Amazon River for three hours to our base in Calanoa, truly inside the rainforest. I am humbled about this even as I write. There is no connection to the outside world once in the Amazon. It is a time to unplug, journal, reflect and be one with nature.
I look forward to sharing my stories along the way. Until then, hasta luego!
By: Lisa King, winner of the BCSA Stories from Abroad Scholarship