My eldest old daughter Lauren recently completed a gap year in South America, 6 months in Brazil and 6 months in Peru with Project Trust. Here is one of her 'e-mails home'.
If there is a message in the story it is something to do with the conversation that Lauren and her friend Sophie have about religion and evolution inspired by the stars. It is the intimate contact with nature that often stirs us spiritually.
If you have a teenage son or daughter - encourage them to take a gap year and see something of the world while they can.
When Lauren was in South America, I was often asked if I worried about her safety. Surprisingly enough I didn't. I think the reason is best explained by a quotation from Helen Keller - the American blind and deaf author. Security is a Superstition
Now my lack of concern has an inherent message for us all in our organizational lives - we don't say what we think or do what we feel is right for fear of repercussions but maybe in the long run it is no better playing it safe than taking risks!
Got back from the jungle this morning and I think I
now have a chill. It wasn't a weekend full of fun and
animals really - more like a challenging weekend full
of scary things and problems!
It started off okay -sun was out, we got the wrong
port but quickly made it to the right one in time. We
then got a tourist boat and that went pretty fast to
our destination -about four hours. We saw sideneck
turtles and a white-necked heron on the way.
The lodge was lovely and we saw some really cool
yellow birds - mimics - which made really strange
noises. Shane eventually arrived a little later and we
set off into the jungle. We took a quicker trail and
it was getting dark so we had to go really fast in
order not to be caught in the jungle at night.
First major scare: bridges! (otherwise described as
trees cut down high over roaring rivers!) I have no
balance at all but Shane didn't get this one until I
fell and landed one leg either side of the trunk - a
guy would have felt immense pain! I cut up my hand a
bit and it now looks a little infected! Anyway he
helped me across and the same for the next one -though
I almost slipped and pulled him off the second time.
It was really petrifying. This isn't the New Forest
-it is the Amazon so if you get injured or lost it can
be life threatening.
When we got to the platform at the lake we went out on
the boat and saw some parrots and the sunset. We later
went back out after dinner and - ohmigod the stars were
amazing! Again Sophie and I agreed this was another
moment throughout our gap year that would have been so
well spent with a boyfriend. I also recalled my dad
and how excited he gets about the stars and evolution
etc and how he would have enjoyed it - it was really
amazing. (much later Sophie and I had a massive
discussion about religion and evolution and came to
some conclusions - too long to explain)
Anyway we also looked for black caimen and then went
to bed having seen some at a distance.
The next day the friaje hit - VERY VERY COLD FRONT!
It was storming - so imagine my worry at the thought of
crossing those logs again now wet and slippy!
Also trees fall down so easily in old flood plain as
the soil is so thin -DANGERS!!!! We got so drenched
also visiting the high forest for the first part of
the morning! Anyway we dried all our clothes and set
off -a longer way with easier bridges. A lot of the
trail was flooded so we had to wade through water up to
your crotch -with god know what in there! We also at
one point had to run really fast to escape a falling
tree! One of the bridges had fallen down so we had to
try and climb another tree to get across and if not
wade through the river!
Anyway when we got back safe and sound it was good but
it was so cold that despite 3 blankets we froze in the
night and then we had to catch a boat to the community
-inferno and froze on that and then a motor bike for
an hour and froze even more. I am quite frozen right now!
Anyway good weekend full of suffering and no, I
wouldn't recommend it to grannies with joint problems etc.
This might be one of my last longish letters as I am
home in 31 days!!
See you all soon!
Lots of Love Lauren