Journal Entry #23

This is a creative nonfiction story inspired by events from our time at the jungle. The story was written shortly after our visit to the Lookout.

We begin another day in the jungle. The air is humid and the temperature’s high; there’s a morning breeze that dances around camp, reminding us of the rain from the night before, and the rain yet to come—if it comes. Everyone begins to wake up, some of them more easily than others. The early birds are already up and about with their day, meanwhile the night owls, like me, can barely lift the bug net to put a leg outside of bed. All around camp the noises of bugs and birds can be heard, echoing the whining and complaining of the few humans that have ventured—that have invaded—this not-so-virgin land; a land discovered but barely touched.

The kitchen.
The kitchen.

We make our way to the kitchen, where most of us immediately sit down and start fanning ourselves with old maps of the concession that lay around the table. We know our fanning is in vane, but those few seconds of cold air are so necessary to stay awake.

Josh and Scullion tell us the plans for the day; today, it seems, we will not be doing much. There will be a few hikes here and there, and at the end of the day we will go to this place call the Lookout to watch the sun set. Everyone pretends to be excited about another day of hikes and heat.

* * *

The day passes by between mindless walking and conversation about topics of no use; we talk about the experiences from days previous, we chat about the days to come, we create scenarios of life after the jungle, and, most importantly, we ask each other the questions we’re afraid of asking.

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En las colpas – In the claylicks

A collaborative story written during a creative writing workshop between the Forest Online and Wild Forest and Fauna’s Future Leaders program. Written by Jimmy, Jason, Sunshine, Elvis, and Tania.

En las copas

¡Pao!

El sonido del trueno hace temblar la tierra. Su estruendo continúa por toda la selva mientras la lluvia corre entre las hojas y el lodo. La luz del relámpago corta a través del oscuro cielo y revela cada rincón y cada espacio en donde las criaturas salvajes se protegen de la lluvia. La tormenta continúa con toda su furia, señalando el comienzo de la época de lluvia.

A pesar de la fuerza destructiva de la tormenta, la selva se mantiene serena, revelando el balance delicado entre el poder de la Madre Naturaleza y la fragilidad de la jungla. El ecosistema complejo de la selva necesita de este poder para calmar la insaciable sed de vida.

Entre la densidad de la vegetación, gotas de lluvia ruedan cuesta abajo en el caparazón de una tortuga concentrada en sí misma. La anciana tortuga abre sus ojos lenta y curiosamente, observando todo a su alrededor, enfocándose en cada mínimo detalle. Se percató de un detalle inusual, una hoja color turquesa que caía suavemente cerca de ella. El movimiento de la caída no era como el de otras hojas, sino que parecía danzar con la brisa. Después de un momento, la delicada mariposa, disfrazada de hoja, se posó en la espalda de la tortuga, de manera delicada y majestuosa, lo cual cautivó a la tortuga.

La mariposa volaba por la playa, buscando por sales y minerales esenciales para su dieta, tratando de evadir la fuerza pluvial.

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Perceptions of street vendors

As a tourist, one of the things you always keep in mind is buying souvenirs for your loved ones. I am not an exception to that.

While at one of the tourist attractions, El Cristo Blanco, I couldn’t resist to take a look at some of the merchandise found at the site. A group of street vendors were sitting next to the site, offering their beautifully crafted souvenirs to the tourists. I settled for one of the vendors, an old but friendly lady.

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This wasn’t the first time I have seen vendors of this nature taking to the streets to sell their merchandise. Since our arrival at Cusco, I have noticed a great number of vendors casually sitting on the street, selling their products to hungry tourists; a sight that is equally beautiful and depressing.

I was curious to know where the merchandise originated. I asked the lady, and her response was quite surprising to me. As it turns out, most the merchandise sold by these street vendors is made by the vendors themselves. This includes bracelets, wooden flutes, and knitted goods, among many others.

However, I noticed that among these items, you can also find very detailed replicas of statues that represent the culture and religion of Cusco. I asked the lady if she or her family had sculptured these items, but her answer was no.

It so happens that these replicas are factory made, and the vendors buy them to resell them. The lady added that most of these factories are owned by either family members or friends of the family, rather than a multi-national corporation.

Learning the source of these items made me feel more at ease with the idea of buying souvenirs from street vendors—and being a tourist.

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Weaving the Threads – A Look at Peru’s Textile Industry

In The Forest Online, Peru-based research is considered especially honorable. In the classroom, Dani and Jimmy, who investigate aspects of Peruvian culture, are members of an elite squad known as the Community Group. These are their thoughts (on weaving).

Dani: I love to knit, so I did some research on weaving in Peru, such as how it’s done and what materials they use.

Jimmy: And I researched Peruvian economics to see where textiles falls into the economy. I found out that Peru’s main exports are gold and mercury. At first I imagined that these exports brought wealth to the people, but I was incorrect. In reality, gold and mercury exports are not only diminishing the economy of the country, but they are also harming its environment.

Peru's exports by sectors. Image by The Cotton Forum.
Peru’s exports by sectors (2010/2011). Image by The Cotton Forum.

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Singleton-Mathews Farm – A History

As preparation for our January trip to Peru, our class has been visiting a large property a few miles off campus owned by McDaniel College. Below, Jimmy, Lucy, GW, Cris, and Jason share what they found.

It is the dream of many colleges and universities to be able to own a farm. Some colleges, such as Warren Wilson College and UC Santa Cruz, take advantage of the opportunities a farm can bring to its students. McDaniel College has the potential to bring similar opportunities to McDaniel. It is simply a question of funds, priorities, and the will to chance that which we can change.

The Potential Opportunities of College Farms

The neighbors' barn in some foggy weather. Photo by Christina Stockton and Jason Swartz
The neighbors’ barn in some foggy weather. Photo by Cris Juarez and Jason Swartz

For Warren Wilson College, the farm is an integral part of the college’s education, acting as a way to merge college education with the “real world.” In UC Santa Cruz’s farm, the main focus is the education of the community, with agricultural programs that that assist elementary school in building their garden-based science and nutrition curricula.

McDaniel College’s farm has the potential to be used profitably in benefit to the education of its student body as well as the college itself.

Dwelling upon the history of the farm, we will explore the different ways in which the farm has been beneficial – or not – to previous owners.

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