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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Fauna Me Forever

Itch.

Itch.

Itch. Itch.

Finally gentle sleep comes.

Burning tingles drag me back to consciousness.

Itch.

Comfort won’t come.

Roll over.

Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Furiously.

Sweet sleep arrives once more.

Passage back into long since forgotten dreams.

Wake up.

Itch.

Itch.

Itch. Itch.

Comfort is relative. Patience is learned.

We did not come here for 5 star hotels, gourmet meals, and pristine white sheets. We came here to shout in distress as yet another bullet ant crosses our path; to dive gleefully into frothing, brown water; to wear the same sweaty shirt for 4 days between less than frequent showers; to experience salmonella, amoebas, and forever fluctuating bowel movements; to spend every night shifting in and out of sleep to itch at bitten ankles; to kick about in our maroon and orange sheets as the heat hangs heavy across our camp.

We came here to grow. We came here to learn.

I think that for many in our group, the bugs in Fauna Forever were a challenge all their own. Some of us were forced to learn to pee while warily watching the fist sized wolf spider lie docilely on the door; others had to conquer the gut wrenching fear associated with the cockroaches scurrying along the floor boards; everyone dealt with bug nets infiltrated by spiders and ants. We learned to hold our tongues in the pitch black as apricot sized cicadas assaulted our bug nets with their rapidly (and noisily!) beating wings.

But I believe every member of the group would agree it was AMAZING.

I found Fauna Forever to be wonderfully (maybe surprisingly) comfortable. I slept better each night we spent there, acclimated to the moist heat, and warmed at the sight of the villagers we came to know. We had a kind cook, Luis, who prepared delicious meals and provided refreshing variety after our Q’eros potato diet. We also had toilets that flushed, delightfully cool showers, and more than adequate protection from the sun and rain.

In the context of our lives back home, our accommodations in Boca Pariamanu would have been considered rugged and outdated. However, in a context following Q’eros, we were all thrilled to have real beds, running water, and a stationary home for a bit. What we view as comfortable is so maleable and forever changing, influenced heavily by circumstance and life experiences. I think everyone on this trip has learned to both appreciate that fact and also broaden our perspectives on what defines comfort for different people, in different populations.

I find comfort in our group- in the laughter, stories and support we share with one another. I find comfort in knowing that my family is safe and healthy back home. I find comfort in a sunny day, surrounded by pristine nature and towering mountains. I found comfort in Tiquipaya, Q’eros, and Fauna Forever, though in very different ways.

Comfort is relative.

Amy James