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City Girl. . . Jungle Girl?

By Megan Patrick

Boat on the Amazon

In the weeks leading up to the Brazil Study Abroad trip all I could think was: just make it through that first week – on a boat – in the Amazon – and then you’ll have an amazing time in the cities. As a self-proclaimed “non-outdoorsy” person, I never imagined that the portion of the trip that involved living on an open boat with over thirty other people, showering in cold river water, and sleeping in a hammock, all while perpetually covered in a film of DEET and sunscreen, could be an awesome experience. But, (and yes, it pains me to admit this) I was wrong. By living on the Amazon river, I spent the week fully immersed in its grandeur, and experienced all of the sights, sounds, and smells that make the Amazon, well. . . the Amazon.

Thanks to our amazing guide, Anand, we explored the Amazon region by visiting an indigenous village and being treated to a performance of their traditional dance; hiking through the Amazon forest and identifying medicinal plants; swimming with pink Amazonian dolphins; hunting down caiman, sloths, and giant lily pads; and even swimming in water falls. On a scale of fanny-pack-clad tourist to Margret Meade, I felt like I was inching toward Bourdain. 

Brazil Study Abroad

And, just like in all law school classes, we were there not just to gather information but also to analyze it. Was the traditional way of life sustainable? How could we, or should we, protect the forest and the life-saving plants that grow there? Is the preservation of the forest and the traditional way of life compatible with progress? And while viewing the facts in 3D may not have made the analysis any easier, it certainly gave us a new prospective and a greater idea of what so many are fighting for.

Seeing first hand how the land sustains people, and how little else we really need to survive, gave me an appreciation and respect for nature I never had before. And although I can guarantee you’ll never catch me sleeping in a hammock again, you might find me snoozing in a comfy tent some day, and my hiking boots will definitely see another trail.

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