Impulsivity is both a strength and a weakness of mine. Sometimes it hinders me, like signing up for more than I can chew or climbing a tree only to skin both my knees. However, most of the time it leads to unforgettable experiences- choosing UT Austin, joining Chi Beta Delta, or taking an assistantship in the Amazon jungle. This summer for 5 weeks I lived four hours by boat away from the closest city inside the Amazon jungle as a research assistant studying monkeys.
During my time there, I was pushed to my limits, and broke them, both physically and mentally. With a short field season and a lot to accomplish there was no adjustment period. I found myself on day 2 alone three miles deep sitting on a tarp under a mosquito net, clutching my binoculars, voice recorder, and knife looking for monkeys and hoping nothing found me first. Days were long, and I was normally up and in the thick of it by 4:30 am (Got to be up before the monkeys!), it was terrifying and beautiful all in one. Everywhere I turned there was life, whether it be a bird that made a chirp like a marble falling in water, an ocelot trying not to be seen, a 3 foot salamander crawling by on the roof as I took a shower, or a bug that looked like it was from another planet. As an ecology major, I was in my own personal heaven. At night the sky was so clear the entire Milky Way was visible and after a long day was a much better reward then the rice and beans for dinner. Everywhere you looked you saw something breathtaking.
I directly handled close up to 40 monkeys during my time there. Holding a monkey in your arms and having them stare back gave me a sense I can’t describe, but it made me feel assured that I am here to make a difference, and that I’m doing what I was born to do and everything was worth it. While I was there I chased monkeys through bamboo, was chased by a wild boar, had a bee the size of my fist sting my face, bumped into a boa constrictor, fell into giant armadillo holes, watched as bullet ants crawled across my skin, tracked jaguar footprints – I could go on forever. Overall, it was the most rewarding and challenging thing I’ve ever done and I can say for certain that it won’t be my last time in the Amazon.