The Energy of Nature in Latin America
By Erika Hernandez Calvo, Expedition Guide on the Safari Voyager
I think the energy of the jungle and of every other type of ecosystem becomes addictive for many travelers. We plan, get ready, and leave our homes in hopes to fill our lives with unique experiences: a sighting that will bring tears of joy, a scream in awe, the biggest smile on our face. Only because of those seconds of pure bliss can we bear those long hours of flights, trains, bus rides, paper work, customs, delays... Only for those magic seconds that bring so much to our wellbeing and make us grateful, either for being there, or being grateful for what we have back home, we will never complain about the common things again due to that newfound appreciation.
That thought always comes to my mind when I am soaking wet from sweat and my shoes full of mud in the rainy inside of a tropical forest in Costa Rica or Panama. Away from all comforts, we learn about all the magic of some of the most biodiverse intense places on Earth. As we walk next to a single tree, I introduce it to the guests who open their eyes wide as they receive information about all the strategies and associations for survival and reproduction. Every single detail seems to be new—although sometimes it happens that I walk with someone who, with full knowledge on the matter, shares that knowledge with the group. That exchange of information enriches our understanding of the dynamics of a forest that for many years was regarded as nothing, just plants with no use, just there, being green and giving flowers and bearing edible fruit in the best of cases. Ecosystems that, because we did not understand we did not love, and since we only protect what we love, have been torn down to have their space used for crops or development.
Thank goodness things change. One day we walk in a forest and encounter minute-large social colonies such as ants and termites, associated with birds and trees. Trees use animals as seed dispersers, and are capable of seeing, feeling, smelling, and communicating. Yes, communicating to one another and helping one another. That is magic!
To be there, telling others about shapes, sizes, adaptations, communication, and all the fascinating things that we have in front of us and that most of the time we don’t see, is mind blowing to me. Eye opening to the point of yearning to make more visits to understand more about our new discoveries. When we find out that the energy of nature is none other than all these living organisms surrounding us and learn to respect other forms of life, we learn to love all of them.
And when we love something, we protect it.
What will you come to love in Latin America?