I hate the jungle. Heat, humidity, mosquitoes, mud, piranhas, butterflies, leeches in the water, snakes in the forest, crocodiles on the riverbanks, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, no orientation, no views, just trees after trees, from which all kind of crazy animals lower themselves down to devour you. No, I can fully understand why not many people live there.
On my last trip to Tipnis National Park in Bolivia, there was only one aspect which reconciled me with all the hardship. Most surprisingly to myself and to anyone who knows my general opinion towards children, it was the children of the remote village of Buen Pastor.
The small group with which I went were the first foreigners that had ever come to Buen Pastor. The children were initially rather shy, obviously a bit disturbed by the sight of men with beards (the Mojeños don’t grow beards), an Asian guy, a black guy and a girl with glasses (nobody in the village wore glasses). They looked at us from afar, didn’t respond when we spoke to them, walked away or, at most, indicated a very shy curiosity.
Other children were very dedicated to school and education and therefore didn’t really have time for us.
But it was also useful that we hung around the school because there, the children were in a group and they grew bolder. The ice (which is of course another thing these children have never seen) broke when some of the people in our group joined a football match and others sang and played with the children.
I have neither talent for football, nor for singing, nor for playing with children, so I used that opportunity to sneak into one of the empty classrooms and read a Bolivian history textbook.
But I didn’t have much time to be surprised by the depiction of German and European history in these textbooks, because as soon as the children discovered me, I was surrounded by them.
And then they surrounded the photographer to inspect the photos.
As soon as they saw someone else taking photos, they were rushing to him. Or to me, in that case.
It was like a reverse paparazzi situation. As soon as the children saw me with a camera, they surrounded me with their laughter or even chased me as I tried to escape:
And these children had energy, wow! They were playing football, running around and laughing all day, no less tired after a full day of activity. What I also liked is that they had a lot of freedom. There were no over-protective parents taking them to school or picking them up or telling them what to wear. They will probably become more mature than pampered city kids. And they know how to fish, hunt, navigate the rainforest and row boats.
We share your general thoughts about children, but also found a group of children in Chimboata, Bolivia. :)
Estos niños me recuerdan a mi infancia en Tarapoto, cuando jugaba con lluvia y si zapatos :D realmente una infancia y vida feliz.
Y ahora eres contadora. ¿Que pasó? :-( :P
Wrote this story with great enthusiasm, I could feel it. The reality of this children in that region is very hard, but they are happy with what they have. I loved! I share it :)
I love your honesty! It’s not everyone that can admit they hate the jungle…or anything else! The children are so beautiful…thank for sharing the moment. It made me smile.
Thank you very much! I guess for that reason I am not one of the usual travel bloggers. I don’t understand it when people claim they find everything “great”, “gorgeous”, “breathtaking” and “spectacular”. Part of traveling is disappointment or nuisance or hardship.
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Me encantó! cuántas lindas sonrisas en ese paraíso que como todo paraíso tiene serpientes, mosquitos y como en Aguirre La Ira de Dios la selva también puede ser ignota y voraz.
:D La comparacion con Aguirre es justo porque nuestros esfuerzos eran similares, también los peligros en el camino.
Al menos no tuvimos un amotinamiento, aunque estaba cerca de eso.
Ah! I was just wondering whether you had joined the football match :D I don’t care about football at all, generally speaking, but I will never forget those afternoons playing with the kids in Africa. It was our way of connecting, when we were so different in all senses and did not even share a language. I would never be able to get rid of them anyway, so had to come up with something. :P
I didn’t join the football match, I think, because any team with me would have soon regarded me as a burden, but these children had so much energy just running and chasing me around.
And it was nice to see them lose their shyness after a day, when the adults in the community still remained more reserved.