Into the Jungle

Jose Francisco Esquer Jr.


September 26, 2015

        All I know is what’s on this piece of paper. It’s crazy to think, it’s crazy to imagine, and it’s even crazier to realize that I will be calling the jungle that is the Amazonian rainforest, my home. My community placement, something so endless and full possibility, is confined to a sheet a paper. It holds a few names, and ages that won’t mean much in just a few weeks. Everything moves just faint and just quick enough for me to not comprehend its full meaning.

        I look outside the bus’s window and I begin to see the Amazon’s beauty. Miles and miles of luscious green forest fill the landscape. The enormous cascading waterfalls begin to give me a sense of exhilaration. The bus continues on into the vast wilderness. Small streams of water slowly grow wider as they turn into rivers and eventually become lakes. I slide my hand across the condensation forming on the wet glass window. The humid air begins to fill up my every breath. I look out once more and the grey clouds envelop the black paved road ahead.

        Four months ago I did not know I would be here in Ecuador. One week ago I did not know I would be here in Napo, and now, I have yet to meet the people I will be calling family for the next six months. It seems as if so much is still up in the air, the people, the relationships, and the experiences are moments to be had. The anxiousness can be described as exhilarating yet frightening in its own sense. It is a feeling of uncertainty and doubt held together by a string of excitement. The beauty of the unknown is the idea of possibility. So much is possible, so much can happen, that endless scenarios of possibility are played over and over.

        My future community of Santa Rita, home to roughly 600 people is simply a fraction of what I have known.  Santa Rita is defined by some as a growing community that is rapidly developing its infrastructure. It is a community built upon cocoa and the farming of the native people’s Chacras. The language is an entanglement of Spanish and Kichwa. While here in the Amazonian town of Santa Rita, I will not only be learning the native language of Kichwa but I will also be devoting my time into different sectors of the community.

In the coming weeks I will be teaching English at the local elementary school while also helping to develop a curriculum that can continue once I leave Santa Rita. Secondly, I will be working at an NGO and social enterprise called Runa Foundation. Runa works under a hybrid business model that produces and sells Guayusa tea and Cacao products while also helping to sustain local development of farmers and promote environmental standards of conservation.

        These will be become my realities. These are avenues of engagement that ultimately fall on me to take full advantage of. These next few months will be impactful. These next few months will be under empathy, as I will live and breathe the same air as my fellow person.  These next few months will be a journey.  I am as prepared as I will ever be and all that remains is for me to walk straight into the jungle.

 

 

Jose Francisco Esquer Jr.