Location: Amazon

Although it is very early in this trip, today has been my favorite day so far. After the first late wake-up of the trip, my friends and I slowly made our way to the Eco-Lodge at 6:50 AM. Before we got to breakfast, however, my friend and I had seen capybara running alongside our rooms. As usual, we ate our exotic and interesting foreign meals and then were all assigned groups with different activities for the morning and the afternoon. Fortunately for me and a few others, we were given the opportunity to go on a canoeing adventure on a creek in the Amazon Rainforest with locals who were all familiar with the region. If it weren’t for the keen eyes and calls from the natives, I doubt any of us would see the diverse wildlife of the Amazon Rainforest where many of the creatures depend on camouflage. Twenty minutes in, I found myself in one of the most exciting moments in my whole life: chasing wild pigs through thorns and mud, hopping over logs and just getting filthy. We saw hundreds of pigs traveling and fighting together. After feeling the thrill of the chase, we saw many monkeys, including the tamarin and howler monkeys. But it didn’t stop until we saw toucans, three-toed sloths, golden tegu, rat snakes and the rarest bird in the world, the zigzag heron. As we made our way back for lunch, everyone was in high spirits because of the amount of wildlife we had just seen. Then it was time for our community service, which involved collecting invasive African snail species which are becoming extremely detrimental to the food chain in the Amazon. Over the past three days, we have collected approximately 20,000 snails in 30 hours, which is approximately a lot of snails. Today in the hot sun my group of 14 collected 2,917 snails in 3 hours. Today was particularly arduous because the snails like the dampness and the humidity, not the hot sun, so they were hidden. After, we showered, and at dinner, I could look up at the stars which I have never seen from my home in New York. Unfortunately, my experiences in New York have not prepared me for false scorpions running across your feet, bats flying into you, cockroaches the size of my hand and humongous hornets buzzing around you like helicopters in the dark. So far in the Amazon, I have learned three things: the first one being don’t touch anything, go to bed early before the power gets shut off, and if you see a bug, no matter the size, flick it as hard as you can if it is on you.