The other night was my first night sleeping in my little hut. It’s a cute hut – it has an outdoor patio/living room, and inside there is a kitchen, sleeping area and bathroom. I have running water, electricity and indoor plumbing. A city girl can’t ask for more than that!
But, as a city girl living in the Guatemalan jungle, I am discovering how disconnected my life has been from nature. I grew up in more rural areas in New England, and while in San Francisco often spent time hiking in the redwoods or walking around neighborhood parks, so I thought I had a good relationship with Mother Nature.
I was wrong.
The first night has taught me that my previous relationship with nature was a “sterilized” one. I spent time with nature on my terms – when and where I wanted, with no real exposure to the more “messy” or authentic parts of nature. When I was done being outdoors, I’d go back to my sealed apartment and not have to deal with nature.
When you’re living in a thatch-roof hut in the jungle, there is no escaping Mother Nature in all her authenticity. There are no sealed edges with the roof of the house, and pretty much anything on the smaller side can come in.
Let’s start with insects. They are everywhere, including in my hut. And I’m not talking about a few insects…I’m talking about a LOT of insects. I’ve seen so many different types of bugs in the last 16 hours that I’ve never seen before. And some of them, like the dead scorpion that I found in the kitchen, freaked me out a little. There are creepy crawlies everywhere. I was actually happy this morning to see an ant – at least I recognized what it was!
And then there are the things that go bump in the night. There are a lot of these too! Unlike my glassed-in windows in San Francisco, my hut just has screens or curtains over the window openings. Which means that I hear EVERYTHING. Some are pleasant, such as the birds that I’m certain are roosting in the thatch roof. Some are annoying, such as the barking dogs and crowing roosters all night long. Some are unique, such as the howler monkeys screaming at me from the trees in my “yard.” And some are a little nerve-wracking, such as whatever it is that ran by my window last night making a weird hissing and grunting noise and the dead boa constrictor I saw the day before yesterday.
Finally, there are all the flowers, plants and trees unique to the jungle. These are kind of cool (although I’m fully aware that things like snakes live in them). My “yard” is filled with many plants that we grow as houseplants at home – philodendrons, orchids, palm trees… There are even some coconuts and several banana trees.
It’s going to be interesting getting to know Mother Nature in all her authenticity!