Boots, Birds, and Binocs... Peru 2011
So its the last full day here at Pantiacolla, and what better way to spend the morning than a "little stroll"? We hiked up to a point called El Mirador, aptly named indeed. From the end of the trail here, we could see out into a sea of green, the Amazon basin spreading out to the horizon, punctuated by the meandering Alto Madre de Dios river. Quite the vista, being perched on the last high point overlooking the basin. After spending so much time in the Andes, from Cuzco to San Pedro, the sheer flatness of it all was what impressed me. How ironic, that after being in dagger like mountains for so long, something as mundane as flatness is what captures my attention.

When we got back, the length of our "little stroll"became a matter of debate at lunch. The Jefe said that the entire hike was about 3-4 km, whereas Alex said each way was about that. The Profe chuckled at my exasperation, as I mused of it being a bit more than a short romp through the woods. I suppose much like our discussions on the nature of wilderness, classifications and labels are rather relative things. Especially when it comes to the Jefe's time and distance estimates.


Is wilderness a cultural value? Whose?
I think our social conception of wilderness is rooted in the belief that humans are distinctly separate from nature.  There are often cultural beliefs that suggest people are superior to their environment, which has allowed many societies to exploit resources without consideration.  I would argue that groups of people who accept humanity as an integral part of nature do not share a Western common interpretation of wilderness.  I think properly understanding humanity's role in nature could led to a more sustainable relationship with wilderness and the environment.
The idea of wilderness separates people from the environment which in reality affects daily lives.  If people feel wilderness is not connected to their lives, they lack incentives to participate in a green movement.  Understanding humans coexist with nature, even in large cities, is central to the success of an environmental movement.
In my opinion, the further society pushes wilderness away, even to protect, the more problems we are going to encounter.  Instead cultures need to confront the problems within society that threaten nature and wilderness and make it impossible for societies and the ecosystems to coexist.  Hopefully the solution will be an ethical understanding of sustainability.  

Living in Wilderness:
I have been camping in Western North Carolina and several of the US National Parks.  However, I have never felt as removed from society as I do now.  It has almost been a week since we left Cuzco.  I was amazed to wake up this morning to the sound of macaws.  Although Villa Carmen and San Pedro do not fit a perfect definition of wilderness, I feel removed from society, consumerism, technology, etc.  However, these places have clearly been influenced by people.  I am excited to experience Cocha Cashu.  The stars are beautiful here, what will it be like so far removed?
-Audrey Hite