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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

The Amazon

I’ve always wanted to visit the amazon, ever since elementary school when the class would listen to the teacher tell us about unimaginable wildlife like 30 ft snakes and butterflies bigger than our heads. Since then I was prepared, ready to make my voyage to the amazon to explore the great undisturbed jungle full of animals that as far as I knew before only existed in zoos or petstores.  At the time I had to settle for pictures and construction paper dioramas, but in the last ten days I had the opportunity to make my childhood dream a reality and see a portion of the peruvian jungle. The long canoe style boat and long journey to arrive in the jungle combined with my first time using a machete to clear vines from a trail already had me feeling sufficiently victorian explorer.  As we continued the week in the amazon I was able to check off several of my amazon wishlist sightings, giant iridescent blue butterflies, a rainbow boa that sparkled and changed color in the light and cordyceps, a fungus that controls insects into spreading its spores. As amazing as all of these things were I couldn’t help but notice as the week went on that we were having to work pretty hard to find them. Even in stretches of primary more or less untouched forest wildlife seemed occasionally scarce. Which is worrying because the amazon houses over 50 percent of the planet’s land biodiversity. Finally visiting the amazon for real as an almost adult has only made me love it more and have more admiration for the people that work to protect it, but it also seems that more needs to be done.