Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Waking Up - A Day at CICRA, I

I squinted my eyes into the bright yellow light flooding my vision, obscuring any thoughts. I couldn’t tell where I was or if I was awake, and I couldn’t see very well. It wasn’t until I heard the insects outside, and felt my mosquito net against my head that I realized I was still in the in my cabin back in the jungle behind the station.
Still utterly confused why bright yellow light was shooting through the darkness into my cabin, I sat up and I looked around trying to figure out what direction the light was coming from. An early morning breeze filtered in through the screens, cooling my sweaty back. I ducked under my mosquito net, and took the two steps across my cabin to get dressed. My pants felt sticky and damp still with yesterday’s sweat. Drying doesn’t really happen, so I am getting used to this grimy feeling I wash away once a week or so from this pair of pants. Wearing clothing here is very much a ration system. Bringing a piece of clothing out of the small, slightly mildewed armoire means it will not be clean again until it is washed by hand on a lucky day of sunshine.
I am enveloped in darkness again as soon as I step outside, the blazing yellow light still illuminating my cabin. My back has already begun sweating again as I follow the white circle my headlamp casts on the sand path before me. Blue and red spider eyes reflect every other step. I prefer to walk in the dark, for it really isn’t that dark, but I have been asked several times now to use a headlamp by various people here. Passing from the forest into the wide open soccer field/helipad, I momentarily gaze into a hole in the side of the trail where I was told the poisonous Fer-de-Lance snake is known to live, but I quickly get distracted by the Common Pauraque shining red up the path. If I shine the light on this ground dwelling nocturnal nightjar early enough, I can walk quietly to within three feet of some of them before they pop off the ground, and silently swim through the heavy early morning air.
As I approach the series of buildings making up the bulk of the CICRA station I see no lights on at all, but then see a glow from behind the lab building and realize that it was the full moon low on the horizon that was blasting my sleepy eyes a few minutes ago. I take off at a run to get my camera at my desk in the lab, excited to get some good shots of the moon shining down over the river and the surrounding jungle as the twilight is fading blue across the rarely luminous night.
A minute later I am heading out of the lab, past some cabins towards the overlook of the river to the West. I step off of the trail as I pass the last few cabins so as not to wake everyone with abrupt raucous of brazil nut husks crunching beneath my shoes. The bright glow from behind the last cabin urges my pace faster, and I emerge to the overlook to see a huge moonlit cloud sweeping across the moon. Only one cloud in the whole sky, and it is a huge, high level, slow moving, and thick cirrus cloud. My shoulders drop a bit, but I still take the time to practice a few cloud shots.

Five minutes later, twilight has chased away the night, and the day grows brighter to my back. I take off my shoes, laying the contents of my pockets and my hoodie on top of them, and wriggle my toes into the damp, sandy soil. Touching my toes for a few minutes, I sway back and forth, waking up my back. Lifting my chin and chest with my breath, I rise, and arch my chest to the sky, reaching for the new day. I momentarily loose equilibrium, and stepping forward to regain my balance, I grin uneasily as I look over the edge of the drop to the red clay riverbank far below. Taking a step back, I try this motion again a little slower. My chest cracks where my ribs meet, much like most people crack their backs, and I feel my chest now open to the sky. Rotating my arms in circular motions, reaching up to the sky, then bringing my hands to a prayer position at my chest, I imagine myself drawing the new day inside, scooping refreshing light into my body. Moving through some sun salutations and warrior poses, my heart also wakes up. I can feel my pulse in my ears as I move through the poses, in my wrists during down-dog, and moving through my hips as I settle deeply into the warrior poses. The heat returns to my body, and I no longer feel the need to for the hoodie lying next to me. As I move through these poses, I hear some rustling in the bushes in front of me. A few minutes later a family of Titi Monkeys materialize from the shadows. They only glance at me before moving out into a tree directly in front of me to bask in the sun and eat some unripe green fruit.

Finishing standing up with my knees slightly bent, my breathing slowly relaxes, as does my gaze out over this place, the jungle, la selva, Peru, the Amazon! I watch the red river ripple around the bend just upstream from the station, following its course right up next to some eddies, where the water swirls, and turns back upstream for a short while. Muddy sandbars melt into the water. Where the water licks the mud the softest, animals tracks help create the distinction of these two domains.
I scan each side of the river up and downstream in hopes of catching sight of a cayman skulking beneath the morning mist, but I have yet to see one this time of day. At this distance, I have no way of telling what the tracks belong to, but the possibility of sighting a jaguar, peccary, tapir, or a cayman is alluring enough to stand for some time watching for any movements on the riverbanks. However, my eyes are continually drawn into the swirling currents of the river’s minute whirlpools, dancing and spinning like a butterfly in the early morning sun.

The new sun quickly warms the air, pushing quiet breezes into the west. Emergent trees across the river peaking out from the whole of the jungle canopy sway back and forth. I trace the advancement of the breeze across the land as trees further and further begin to sway to life. A blanket of jungle extends out to the horizon where it meets another blanket of clouds. Behind those clouds rise the Andes. On the clearest mornings they shoot up into the sky, capped in the vast glaciers that can easily be taken for clouds at such a distance. My first morning here, the sunrise erupted upon the mountaintops in bright rosy hues. A wall of clouds resides at the foot of the mountains where the cloud forests are licked in mist, accentuating the vast heights of these behemoths. I figured that since I was being given such an amazing view on my first morning here, it would probably happen again. Well, it is my third week here, and the mountains haven’t been so clearly visible since.
I watch flocks of macaws and many other different types of parrots scatter through the sky in squawking and shrieking flocks of bright greens, yellows, blues, and reds, smirking momentarily at how ridiculous the macaws’ shrieks sound in juxtaposition to the beautiful plumage they adorn. Some are heading across the river to get an early check up on some fruit trees, others may be headed to one of the many local collpas, or clay-licks, which are important areas where jungle animals eat clay to obtain vital minerals.
The smell of garlic and rice finally filters to where I am, telling me it is time for breakfast. Some mornings we have lentils and garlic rice, other mornings we have scrambled eggs with some veggies and the most delicious Andean cheese, simply called queso here. The meals are pretty good, always including rice in each meal, and always heartily filling.

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