Jungle Tales

I was embarking on my first solo trip to South America and it was perfectly crammed in between the end of the spring semester and the start of the university’s summer session. I got back within a couple of hours of school starting. 

Before I left, a dear friend of mine lent me a book that talked about some of the medical plants inhabiting the region. The book was short and acted as a mini-guide to that region of the world. I read it in one sitting, studying the couple of pictures that were within, and returned it before I set off. 

The epic adventure that was set in my head started off very messy. In short, the plane leaving Las Vegas never left that day. I ended up on standby for 10 different planes. Alas, I finally arrived in Peru one day later than my original plans. 

Gateway to the jungle

Upon arriving in the large jungle city of Iquitos, known as the gateway to the Amazon, I took a mottocaro to the hotel I was supposed to meet the group of people also heading out into the rainforest. A bunch of strangers with backpacks congregated around the entrance and I knew I was in the right place. The people were from all over the world and came from all walks of life. 

One of the organizers appeared out of the small group that had assembled, and it was time to go. We were about to immerse ourselves in the harsh realities and all of the beauties of the jungle bestows. 

This trip tested almost everything I thought I was: my strength, endurance, and identity. Ultimately, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. 

It was the first time I saw the milky way with my own eyes because there was no light pollution (I didn’t realize you could see it with your own eyes until that moment).  

It tested me by having to dig and remove parasites that had burrowed into my feet and led me to meet a friend I am still close to this day. This trip revamped my hope in the universe and a sense of everlasting wonder for its mysteries. 

This trip tested almost everything I thought I was: my strength, endurance, and identity. Ultimately, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. 

When it was time to leave, my friend I met and I headed to the airport. during those two weeks. We were standing in line to check-in at the airport. This guy comes up behind us and starts a conversation. He compliments my backpack and then asks what brought us to Peru. 

“To hike the Inca trail?” he suggests. My friend and I looked at each other and back at him because the Inca trail was nowhere near (only later I realized it was a joke) and we explained our time in the jungle. 

In fact, he had just been in the jungle too. We checked our bags and I waited with my friend outside of “security” (security in parentheses because it’s a very tiny airport and it just appeared to be for decoration). 

Something puzzled me though. I knew this guy from somewhere, but I couldn’t think where. I’m also thinking to myself, “why would I know anyone in Iquitos?”, it would be the last place I would run into someone I know. 

All of a sudden it clicked. I remembered the book my friend from home let me borrow. That guy behind us in the check-in line was the author of the book! I think he had one or two pictures of himself in the book, and somehow my brain remembered it. 

Chris, the author, and I at the airport

SO, as soon as it was nearing time for my flight to leave, I went through security in search to go find him. (Let’s be honest, Iquitos is like a two-room airport, so he wasn’t hard to find.)

I approached him and asked if he was Chris, the guy who wrote the book. And he said he was! I was elated – I couldn’t believe it, I mean what the heck was this happening?! We sat and chatted about life and anthropology-related subjects. 

It was time to board the flight back to Lima. When I got on the plane I passed him again. “Have a good flight Alina,” he told me. Eeeep…. It was literally quite the perfect ending to this trip, everything came full circle.

About the Author
Alina is a recent UNLV graduate focusing in Anthropology, Art, and Art History. She has spent two semesters living abroad in Viterbo, Italy and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Besides traveling, Alina works as a yoga instructor in Las Vegas and is currently studying massage therapy.

Published by Badass Female Travelers

It's simple - we're females. We travel. And of course, we're badass. Discover the numinous accounts of women's journeys around the world.

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