Paraguay 2016 – La vida en Laguna Blanca

I miss Laguna Blanca every day. Every. Single. Day. I have traveled all over the world and seen amazing places and met amazing new friends many times before, but this experience continues to get to me in a new and profound way.  My time in Paraguay working with Para la Tierra (PLT) at Laguna Blanca will affect what I do and how I live far into the future.

Since returning to Denver, many people have asked me about my time in Paraguay. The question, “What was the best part?” has confounded me time and time again. What was the best part? Really, all of it. Even the bug bites, the cold rainy days, being lost in the forest, and all the thorns colored in the experience to make it a full-on, real-life symphony of learning, loving, and laughing.

As with any international travel, I had plenty of time in transit to record my instant impressions of the trip. From Silvio Pettirossi Aeropuerto in Asuncion, Paraguay on 10 August 2016…

Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned in the past 10 days…

  • There are places on this planet where you can walk down a runway owned by a Brazilian eucalyptus plantation company and Jorge can pick up a skink without a scientific classification. And then you can walk a little further and see a couple of endangered birds in the field. All in the dark of night. These places are rare and special and will disappear if no one cares enough to protect them.
  • Take less stuff and wash clothes along the way. It’s way less of a hassle. What was I thinking?
  • Kids are kids, but rural Paraguayan kids are a hardy, quiet, respectful, and reserved bunch.
  • If people don’t love the forest and see it’s value, they burn it down to make room for more cows. These massive fires do not lead to helicopters, slurry bombers, fire crews, and engine crews coming from all corners to suppress the blaze.
  • I don’t actually need all of the space, stuff. and comforts provided by the American lifestyle. Frogs living in the shower are fun!
  • Community is powerful. I happy to have been part of this EE/PLT community.
  • Changing the world isn’t easy, but it is certainly a worthwhile way to spend my days.
  • My life is super cool and I know so many amazing and wonderful people. I am very lucky.

In the past weeks it has become apparent to me that my heart lies in doing work that may be beyond the borders of Colorado. That there is conservation work to be done that with some commitment, passion, skills, and excellent timing, I can make a big difference for communities – both human and natural. It’s scary to think of a life where I don’t go to my government-pension job and live so close to where I grew up – but as my good friend always reminds me, “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.”

Once again, an Earth Expedition has significantly impacted my outlook and, as I believe any travel experience should, has changed who I am now that I am back home. It makes me jump for joy that I have one more Earth Expedition to look forward to next year.

With that, here are a few photos from the trip:

 

img_4068     Welcome to Laguna Blanca!

 

Coatis in the Atlantic forest.     img_4101

 

img_4100          29 kids in a truck!

 

A long day of education is exhausting!      kinion-paraguay-2016-girls

 

img_3910     The endangered white-winged nightjar

 

Atlantic forest view   dscn5800

 

img_4081img_4066

And some friend selfies. Miss you all!

 

And the rest of the photos can be seen here.