The Breaking with Dawn

Can I have the meteor shower and the sunrise? Must a moment cost me? /

Eventually, I slip my hand out from under the mosquito net and flick off the light. I am exhausted.

After arriving in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, by bus a little after 5 this morning, I slurped papaya juice on a plastic stool in an outdoor market. I yawned from the back of a motorcycle as the driver dropped me off at the tour company’s office. Then followed a one-hour bus ride past the coca farms and a three-hour motor boat trip on el Rio Tambopata.

By now, I long to stretch out my body, shut my eyes, and drift off to the hum of the jungle’s nocturnal insects (including the wallet-sized grasshopper on the other side of my net). But first I must defeat an internal mantra chiding me for sleeping before 11 p.m. As I slowly lose interest in my book, I relent.

Prior to leaving Chicago for South America, I made several goals for my month abroad. Strike up conversations in Spanish with locals. Ride a bus—not a taxi—from the airport. Wander around downtown on foot. Explore neighborhoods outside of the traditional tourist map. I don’t formally state my intention to robustly fill my days, as I would, with walking tours, bicycle trips, and street food snack sessions. I don’t have to—my conscience already connotes busyness with godliness.

I first begin to spot tensions in this philosophy on a beach in Colombia. When I arrive at my hostel—a series of hammocks under a thatch roof with a sand floor—it is 6:35 p.m. Darkness obscures an Argentine man’s tent, circus silks hanging from a tree, and coconuts in the sand. My body would like to lie on my beach towel, but instead I give in to my extroverted tendencies and chat for most of the evening with an Italian surfer who has been traveling ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 33 / October 15, 2015
  1. Editor’s Note

    Issue 33: Martian gardens, making choices in Colombia, and a relatively instantaneous trip. /

  2. Can We Farm Mars? Should We?

    We’ve found evidence of flowing water. Next up: Planting crops? /

  3. A Ray of Light: The Timeless Life of a Photon

    The journey of 15 quintillion miles would seem instantaneous. /

  4. The Autumn

    ‘For every breath that stirs the trees, /Doth cause a leaf to fall.’ /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 33: Links to amazing stuff.

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