The highlight of this trip for me has definitely been Amboró. In many ways, I was brought back to Mississippi. The foliage and big trees reminded me of “nature walks” that my dad used to force my sister and me to go on with him when we visited my grandparents farm. However, the vast expanses of uncovered stone walls, bright red snakes, and absolutely breathtaking waterfalls served as constant reminders that I was in fact in the rain/cloud forest. I enjoy nature, but never have I experienced anything like this. Our guides were wonderful, and I was constantly in awe of how well they knew the terrain; I have a decent sense of direction, but had I been left alone out there I probably never would’ve returned to society. Their knowledge of the area definitely added to the tour and I appreciated that so much because I don’t know if I will ever be able to hike an area like that again.
While hiking the short route on Thursday to visit the natural pools, I noticed manmade bridges and steps that assisted with guiding tours through the forest. This struck me as sad because there is such a push to conserve/preserve the rainforest in its natural state, yet that becomes impossible when you bring tourism into the situation. Obviously, these people who rely on the tourism industry in this area for their livelihood have decided that the cost of a manmade bridge to alter nature outweighs preservation, even if it is not what they want for the area. This is upsetting to me because without these added paths/walkways, tours like the one I loved so much wouldn’t be possible, but that comes with a natural sacrifice. I’m not saying these bridges/walkways are necessarily bad because they are made out of wood and stone, it just made me pause to consider the artificial-ness that goes into even the most natural places.
A question I asked myself was, “What will all of this look like in 200 years?” and I really hope that nothing will have changed in that amount of time. This is such a beautiful area and it would be so disheartening to see the tourism industry completely destroy it.