June 15th, 2014 – Pukara Hosteria
It is only fitting that I pay tribute to the very stars that sealed my fate on this momentous trip. I had actually forgotten about the power of the miniature midnight suns reigning the skies in absence of the mysterious glowing orb usually present. My Fault-in-the-Stars friend Laura could not contain her excitement over the clear nights skies adorned with what could only be identified as the Northern Cross. Her enthusiasm over the celestial heavens reminded me of the connection I had once forged with the stars so long ago. I made it my primary objective to bask in the glory of the shimmering jewels adorning the sky.
After a small wrestling bout with man’s best friend, I searched for higher ground to accomplish the mission set before me. The soccer field, the courtyard, the balcony… it all seemed wrong. I had to find the perfect place to earn my inspiration. And there it was. The building in which we swim deep in tropical knowledge would be the perfect vantage point to drown my senses in the evening sky. I had to be creative, but I managed to scale the building and find the perfect position on the rooftop. I evaded the interfering porch lights by embracing the shadows of my surroundings. The timing was perfect.
Here they lay, in all their deserved glory. And here I sit, underneath the stellar luminance, becoming lost in the endless expanse. I try to take it all in, but it is impossible. There is too much. As I strain my eyes in an attempt to focus on one of the less brilliant and more distant stars, I begin to lose sight and the light from the star begins to pulsate. It flickers in and out of my visual field in an attempt to hide its beauty from me.
These stars are millions of miles away and I am viewing the ancient lights of stellar giants, rays that transverse galaxies to be intercepted by those fortunate enough to gaze upon their existence. Much further than I have travelled. An unfair exchange with the universe that I am willing to exploit.
I turn to the other side of the sky in order to experience the entirety of the situation. Disappointment slowly spreads across my face as I detect nearly nothing in the night sky. The glowing lights of the city fill my view and I now understand the impacts of light pollution upon astral observation. I turn back to overwhelm my senses with the undeniable beauty above me.
I was positioned on the roof of some building in a foreign country, staring into interstellar space. I could not seem to accept the reality of the situation. Even if I am halfway across the world, the stars should not look any different. Viewing the stars from a different country should not change how I respond to the stimulus, but it did, in fact, feel different.
I peer into the dancing glimmers and feel joy. Feel relief. Feel human. There are some days on this trip when I look around at everybody else and see their awe and amazement at everything around us and I wonder why I am not feeling that. I would contemplate the possibility that there was something wrong with me. But tonight I remember my first encounter with the stars and reminisce over the intense emotions they had elicited from me. A whisper of thanks escapes my lips, lost in the cacophony of barking dogs chasing speeding cars that compose the music of the night in Ecuador (double music reference). It is fitting that I sit here tonight and offer my blessings to the natural wonders of sweet serendipity that twisted fate and ensured my safe travels (one more for good measure).
Tomorrow I leave for Tiputini and I do not know what is going to happen, but I have learned that I would not want it any other way.