One of the joys of life is waking up and asking the question, “How did I get here?” I am laying on a cot next to my new grandson, Ian, in a jungle treehouse. The tin roof begins a staccato bong, bong, bong which turns to a cacophony of rain drowning out the sounds of the forest around us. Steam rises. We sweat, and I wash my grandson with a wet cloth.
The Parque Ecologico del Rio Claro lies 150 kilometers east of Medellin in the Department of Antioquia, Colombia. There are five of us crammed into the small Chevy Spark for the four-hour drive along a twisted highway. We stop at a small Mercado along the road for a rest. Inside I am transfixed by a color photo of a beautiful native child sitting on a rock in a river surrounded by large pythons. This is not Disney Land.
The park is closed on Sunday, but we find our way to the tree house, an open air affair made of popsicle sticks and tree branches. To escape the heat, we strip down and head for the river. The Rio Claro winds like a green snake through a steep forested valley. The water is cool and refreshing with a strong current. There is a rope strung across the river forty yards downstream in case someone is swept away. I swim against the current as fast as I can and lose ground. We pass our new grandson like a football dipping him in the water, and he is giddy with delight.
When the others go off to explore a cave filled with oil birds, Ian and I head back for a nap. We watch a Blemished Anole lizard scurry across the floor looking for bugs to eat. There are a lot of options on it’s dinner menu. A couple of parrots pass down the valley. Birds are calling. From this perch, we are part of the jungle.
I fall asleep and dream that we are in a far away place. It is foreign and remote and surrounded by forests. Time does not move in this place, and I am reminded that we are just passing through. That we are just part of the earth. The innocent life breathing next to me demands that we preserve wild places. I do not want him to wake up and find that they are all gone and ask how we got here.
We are all connected. Savor the earth.
L. Hobart Stocking