Deep in the Jungle - Thoughts from the Disconnected Lands
It's true. There is NO Internet in the jungle. There is no telecom. "No Service" reads the iPhone ... may as well be in airplane mode. There isn't even electricity. The little electricity available is collected through solar panels during the day and voraciously used by cell and camera battery chargers. At sundown it's literally lights out and candles light the night.
Although I couldn't connect, I could still write and post when I got back. Here goes! This is a short diary of my time here - three days in the Cuyabeno Reserve, a nine hour bus ride from the city of Quito, plus two hour boat ride to reach the lodge itself. I'm in the middle of nowhere, on a tributary of the Amazon River and notably one of the last and possibly the best places to see wildlife in Ecuador.
Day one - I tell myself I'm okay without Internet but my mind is going crazy with thoughts about what important emails I'll miss and (potentially) the things I need to know about and be prepared to deal with when I get home. It's not that I'd work, because I haven't been working (that's a big deal as an entrepreneur), but I feel uncomfortable that I don't know what, if anything, I'm missing. I don't know what may go down in that endless stream of emails reminding me that I have things to do, people to see, business to close, etc. I equate it with a sense of security that stems from needing to be in control - of time, of information, and of my life. We all do it in some way, so instead I'm going to try to find peace with it, which isn't all that difficult considering my surroundings! This will be a true "being present" and "in the moment" experience.
Day two - We visited a local village and saw how the villagers live on a daily basis. What do they do? Isn't that such a normal question for anyone? What do you do? What's your title, what's your career? What do these villagers do, then? They live. That's it. They just live, raise their kids, tend to their crops and land and now, thanks to the sustainable ecotourism, they get some money as landlords to the lodges. This ensures they don't get bought out by the petrol companies that would drive them out for half a buck. By living here, they keep the jungle alive for people like me to experience and appreciate. In a way, they have an extremely important job. Rather, they have a vital role because of how important the rainforest is for the entire planet - and how few people understand this.
We went on an evening tour of the river and laguna, navigating by the stars on the way home. There is magic in experiencing a completely cloudless, fully shining Milky Way, without a shred of civilization's incandescent glow. Pure nature. There is also an extreme degree of trust in this situation: middle of nowhere, jungle, driving in a wooden boat at night, our safety and lives in the hands of the driver. It's made me think about trust, and how natural and good of a feeling this is - how important to our emotional health as well as our practical lives (in business especially). Who do you trust? Why enter any kind of transaction or relationship with anyone who doesn't elicit that feeling? We can all be honest, trustworthy, ethical people. Because living in doubt and fear is not living at all, in fact it'll only deteriorate your mental and physical health. I would have had a completely different experience of the starry night in a boat if I had been worried about my safety, lacking trust. And the other side of trust is the driver himself: he's "got this". That's self trust, self reliance, confidence and honest action. Admirable qualities that I'm taking to heart because that feeling of "I got this!" is pretty cool, no matter what you are doing. And I certainly want to feel that way - about my skills and work.
Day three - I've had a massive realization. Without a shred of guilt or shame, I will say that I do NOT like being disconnected from the rest of the world, from Andrew, from my business or from my family and friends. I also know I'm not addicted to information, social networks or the Internet. I don't need a "social media vacation". I know how to moderate that activity, I appreciate what it's for and I use it accordingly. I like to be a part of the world, of my communities, and of society. I like feeling connected. It's not true that "everything will be as you left it" because it isn't. Everything changes constantly. Will the fact that I won't do any real work until Monday change? No, it won't. But what if something major does happen? What if I simply enjoy communicating? Wy should I feel the need to force any state upon myself? There is no need for extremes and I am happy to discover that I am quite a balanced person. I have yoga, meditation and working on my "self" to thank for this.
Maybe I needed to come to the jungle to figure it out, and I'm glad I did. I've been blessed with the opportunity to see and experience this place, it's people and to share the jungle with all the amazing animals. Like the Galápagos, the Amazon has always intrigued me since watching wildlife documentaries with my Dad growing up. And yes, I saw the pink river dolphin! So I couldn't be happier about this trip and I'm definitely ready to come home.
I'm ready to get back to my life, to Venice, to drilling through the emails and the information, and to building my business. I've got great stories to tell, and authentic experiences that have given me new insights into "how we are who we are" and how we can access those parts of ourselves to be more effective in life and work. I'm excited to share and to apply this knowledge and these insights to myself, my clients and to anyone readers of my blog.
I'm also grateful for having the opportunity TO be so connected on a regular basis and certainly won't be taking it for granted!