Monday, August 26, 2013

It's a small world after all, but this ain't no disney ride.

Like I wrote last week, it took an epic 8-hour river canoe journey from a small village into the center of the rainforest. It was a great experince, and a very blunt way of communicating just how remote a place I will be living in for the next year. 

That's one of the biggest things that slaps you in the face after you've been here a few days: you're very removed from civilization and have to adapt accordingly.  Most of us take it for granted just how easy it is to communicate with people nowadays. That's really the innovatiom of the 21st century...all of our infrastructure: the internet, texting, Skype, WhatsApp, Google, Wikipedia,  is designed for communicating and sharing information with people halfway across the world in seconds. Here, we're at the very least set back to the 90s (but really, that crappy 52k modem that made dubstep sounds and connected me to America Online back in the day was probably faster than the cellphone connection I'm using now). 

The fact that I can write this in the rainforest and you are able to see it is pretty special and shows just how far humanity has come in its attempts to tame the wild. Of course, the wild is never truly tamed. All it takes is a rogue cloud or a bit of interference from the trees, and my ability to communicate with the outisde world is gone in a second. That's what makes this place so special: it's a window into what the world was like before humans started changing it with buildings, roads, and technology. We've managed to make this 21st century version of Earth feel very small with our communications and transportation technology.

But here, you feel small. Walking just a mile in any direction is an ordeal, and you won't see anyone else around except the same handful of faces you see every day. If I lived in this very spot 300 years ago and was naive to the fact that there is an entire planet filled with all sorts if different places outside of the borders of this rainforest, my world view would be dramatically different. It's not that crazy to think that if you were uncontacted by the outside world in a place like this, you might think the rainforest you live is all that exists, and maybe you'll only ever meet 25 people in your entire lifetime. While I come from a time and place where this isn't the case, being here gives me a small taste of this world view, and is proof that we are just a small part of the world, and ultimately always at the mercy of nature. 

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