Barriers and, The Rainforest

There are two main things that have me on the edge right now about my upcoming adventure to the rainforests of Peru: Language barriers and literally, The Rainforest.

There is so much unknown that I’m going into alone and it’s quite terrifying for one, but also totally exciting in my book.  As much as I’m a control freak and hate the unknown, sometimes you just have to dive right into something you don’t understand to really enjoy it, right?  Yeah, that’s the way to think about it…so you don’t get so scared. Hah!

Right now, the language barrier has me on the rocks.  I know hardly any Spanish, only French (so much for all 7 years of French throughout High School and College!!!) and I’m going to a Spanish speaking country.  I know the two languages are similar, but also different in so many ways.  To help combat the anxiety that I know I’ll suddenly be overwhelmed with in the coming weeks I was fortunate enough to have Whit let me borrow something of his: Rosetta Stone!

I know I won’t be able to learn an entire language in four weeks but I’m hoping to learn as much as I can, or at least the basics to get me around.  I’m most worried about when I arrive at the airport and won’t be able to find anyone to help me in English…that and I won’t even know where to go or how to do it!  Yikes!  Hopefully after 3 months in Peru I’ll be able to come back with some Spanish under my belt so the next time I go back…hahaha…we’ll see about that.

The other thing though, is simply the rainforest.  There is some crazy freaking stuff out there.  I’ve been doing my research and have come upon two of the most dangerous and crazy things I could come across (and undoubtedly will) during my excursion:

The Bullet Ant:

Lets just say…that it’s name says everything about it.  At an inch long, they live in trees and fall from them to bite you and protect themselves.  And they shriek.  SHRIEK!!!!  Have you ever heard of an ant doing that!  I most certainly do not want to be hit by one of these guys…but if I do, you’ll hear about it.  And I’ll be able to tell you what it’s like to get shot…by an ant. Haha.

And, the Bot Fly:

Now this one, this one is the most extreme one to me.

First of all, there are several varieties, one just for good ol’ humans.  They lay their eggs on other insects like mosquitoes, which then bite humans and drop the egg, reacting to heat and burrowing into your skin. Yeah, they are freaking parasites and live there, larvae and all, eating you until you remove them or the develop fully and basically fall out.  How fun does that sound?  I know right, just marvelous.  I’m hoping to keep enough of me covered (literally, head to toe) to keep these guys off me.  I don’t want to have to come back through US customs in October asking me what that is that’s wriggling on my arm. Hah!

Of course those are just a few of the insects I need to be highly aware of, but there are also other things like big mammals…including mountain lions, jaguars, bears, other big cats and goodness gracious who knows what else…fun right?!



But that’s what happens when you want to experience the wild rainforest as it really is.  I couldn’t be more excited to see and live through it all…and hopefully live to tell about it. :)

Just a few things to let you know what you’ll be hearing about during my travels…but I hope that most of it will consists of these little guys:



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6 Responses to Barriers and, The Rainforest

  1. Gina says:

    Hey there,
    Just wanted to chime in: have been to Peru, in the jungle around the Madre de Dios, helping on a field project. I do speak some Spanish, but many people in Latin America speak English. The most important things to know language wise are that when you approach people, wish them good (morning/afternoon/night) and ask how they are before jumping into business. French and Spanish are similar in many ways and you will probably be able to read Spanish- if you can’t understand ask people to “por favor, escribelo” (please write it down). and Craigslist often have local meetups for people of all levels to practice. Having said all that- smiles will get you everywhere in Latin America- people are very friendly and forgiving of Spanglish and often want to practice English with you. As for the buggies, I never had any problems with either of ones you mentioned- the mosquitos are more likely to bug you and are more dangerous because of disease. Pick up some permethin (sp?) clothes (Sierra Trading post) a face net, and some deet. If you survived the creepy crawlies in Aus, I am certain the jungle will be no match. If you have room for one more bit of advice- bring peanut butter, almond butter, and protein bars. Latin America is still not the best place for vegetarians. I would relax on egg rules if you can… I ordered several meals “sin carne” only to find a piece of ham on my plate. You may want to learn “Soy vegetariana, no como carne, pollo, o pescado.” Good luck.

    • Melissa says:

      Gina, thank you so much for the encouraging words and I’m grateful for all the suggestions! I’m happy to hear that the language barrier won’t be as hard as I imagined it to be because I’m quite a shy person, even when it comes to asking for help. Would you mind me asking what kind of field project you were working on? I would love to hear more about it and your adventures!! Thanks again!

  2. Lara says:

    How exciting that you are going to PERU! What an amazing opportunity. I understand your anxiety but think your attitude about it all is great. Also, I’ve heard great things about Rosetta Stone. With your French background and the prep work you do, I’m sure you’ll be fine :)

  3. Maggie says:

    But just think…they don’t have scrub itch in Peru. ;) I’m super-excited for you, and I think you’re going to have an awesome time down there!!

    • Melissa says:

      Hahah…Oh scrub itch, what a b*tch it was!

      But seriously, I don’t know what is worse, feeling like you’ve been shot, having a maggot feed off you to grow, or have tons if not hundreds of little invisible bugs biting you constantly and crawling under you skin. LOL!!! Oh man, I sure can look at the bright side!

  4. congrats on peru! so exciting! i want to learn more mandarin; may need to get rosetta stone…

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