Jose Herrera ’13 – Sitting in an SUV with host family and extended family I’ve only known for a week, we drive down the misty mountainside near the summit of an active volcano (but its ok, it politely regurgitates lava and ash every so often). It would be hard to explain the feeling.
I’ve known my host family for only a few days but the comfort level was the same with them as with any one of my actual relatives. The driver respects the mountain, driving cautiously around its never ending spine of a road. A wrong move could turn the picturesque mystical mountain range into a hungry green monster, swallowing our car into the deep valley below. There is a period of silence as we drive down the winding road – it would be wrong to speak in the presence of the aggressively towering geographical formations filled with the diverse plants that cover its face.
We reach our destination: a zipline stretching from one side of a massive crevice to the other with a raging river below. Attached to this zipline is a metal basket which people use to witness the vertical polarity of peaks and valleys. I get in and fly across one thousand feet of air, getting an eagle’s view of the unsettled Andean mountain range to the west and the patient Amazon to my east. Seconds (days) pass by and I reach the other side of the canyon. I then take the basket back for a second look at the face of the Andean range, get in the car, and get lost in the misty mountainside.