FBT Day 6 - Cloud Forest

Friday 2.19.10

This morning I went on the most beautiful hike I’ve been on since Sunday; and it’s only just tied with Sunday. The cloud forest ecosystem is just incredible. We drove in pickup trucks, all of us standing up in the beds, for about 30 minutes from our home base of Samac to a neighboring town where there is a bird watching trail. When we reached the highest point of the drive we were above the cloud line and could see the tops of trees and hills poking their heads out of the clouds like little islands in the sky. It was also still pretty early in the morning which made everything appear pink and blue and purple, the colors were so vibrant and pure. We descended again to get further into the cloud forest and continued on foot. There the clouds rolled in and incredibly quick: one moment it would be sunny and hot and the next I would need to put my camera away because it was basically raining the fog was so thick.

We packed up our binoculars, cameras, and water bottles and headed into the forest. We split up into three groups based on our birding experience. I got placed in the advanced group because I have more than 1 hour of bird watching experience (well, a little more than that, but with the skills of people in our group I was considered an expert). Really all I’ve done is observed other people observing and identifying birds. I’m not even interested at all in birding. I appreciate them because they are alive and part of the ecosystem just as I appreciate all other things, but I don’t have an innate fascination like some do with these little flying dinosaur-descended friends. I didn’t even see one bird that day. Oh, wait, I saw one flying. It looked small and black, it had two wings and a beak, and I assume it had feathers. That’s my bird expertise for you.

I really enjoy just wandering through the woods without being worried about keeping a schedule. This hike was much more relaxed than the one last Sunday to the falls, and it was also nice that we split up into smaller groups. I also think that I’m more observant when I’m carrying my camera with me. I don’t need to take a picture as a memento of my time here to be enjoying my time; that’s not the point of pictures. The point of a photo is to look at it later in life to remind you of the colors, feelings, temperatures, sentiments, and friends that surrounded you at that time. There is no point spending your time hunting for the perfect photograph because then you lose all your time actually experiencing life. I try to spend my time enjoying the experience and when the opportunity for a beautiful photograph that will accurately represent a memory I want, I take it. I like to consider myself a different type of photographer in that sense: one that’s not hunting for the perfect shot, but one that’s hunting for the perfectly real experience.

I think that I experience life plenty when I have my camera in hand. It makes me think about lighting, composition, subject matter, reflections, dimensions, colors, contrast, and all those different elements that strike our rods and cones in a very passive manor. Thinking about these elements is very energy consuming but is also very awe dropping when one stops and thinks about all the visual stimuli we take in in one day. Add that to the auditory, olfactory, savory, and tactile input we receive all day long and it is amazing we have the energy to actually function at all. I’m amazed at the human brain, however, this deserves an entry all on its own so I will postpone going any further into this tangent for now.

All I really wanted to say was I like thinking about my surroundings when I walk. I like that awareness that holding my camera brings. I like searching for different plants, watching the dew collect on the spider webs, turning over detritus and rocks to find tiny mushrooms growing in perfect lines, searching for insects, and simply being in amazement at the natural world around me of which I am part of. I like being reminded of this on a daily basis.

I told my grandma Do-Do a few months ago that I consider myself to be an angry person. She was a little confused and astounded by that statement but I think it was very true of me in the United States. There were just so many things it was easy to get angry about; it’s not like I didn’t try to change my attitude, there were just more negative inputs than positive ones. Here that’s changed. There are so many things to take pleasure in and very few of the things that irked me in the US. Yeah, it does get on my nerves every time I set up a meeting for 2:30 and people don’t start rolling in until 3:00, and I do get frustrated with the fact that Guatemalans’ brains do not process logic like mine does (but really, I know very few people who’s brains function on the same wavelength as mine dies). But for the most part life here is pretty tranquilo. This change of heart is occurring because it’s so much easier to be a part of the world around me here when the world is so much smaller.

Charlas received today: .5 hours

Charlas involved in this week: 18.5 hours

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