It had been the end of University and all the balls and final shindigs were over. As they’d talked, making plans for their graduation reunion, I smiled politely, listening and laughing along whilst continuing to search my room. Where had I put my camera lens?
It was a conversation I couldn’t join in on. I would be graduating in the Amazon rainforest, a world away from York, and anyway, I was too busy desperately searching for that lens. Packing had never been my forte.
As the end of University drew closer, one-by-one my friends had signed themselves up for graduate schemes. And good for them, they’d worked hard and I was both proud of and happy for them all.
It just simply wasn’t for me.
I'd always been the one that went on the seemingly wacky adventures. Whilst they had spent their summers getting invaluable work experience in the city, I had spent mine getting chased by black bears in Canadian forests. I'd always been outside, seeking to perpetuate my love of the environment and wildlife though a hands on education.
Now I was on the way to finishing my Literature and Philosophy degree and sat pondering how to combine my love of nature with my passion for writing. What next?
It was time for the help of Google.
I'd found Crees after searching for environmental journalism internships and before I had finished reading the page I was already mentally writing my application. I’d been won over by both the purpose behind their work and the opportunity to learn in an environment such as the Amazon rainforest.
I now sit 7 weeks into the Crees Media Internship and I can honestly say that it was the perfect choice for me. The work is always varied when the Amazon is your office.
In the last few weeks I’ve watched the sunrise in the company of spider monkeys, chased away tapirs, spotted a jaguar at dawn and accidently swam with a coral snake.
As interns here we’ve been pushed to extend our skills in photography, filmmaking and blog writing. We’ve also been given the opportunity to be published on multiple online platforms, as well as connecting with environmental media experts from around the globe.
In my two months here I’ve spent days in the field with renowned wildlife filmmakers, assisted researchers from the London Zoological Society, and conversed with wildlife photographers.
Working with the Crees researchers out in the field means that you learn fast and really get to know the environment. You spend every day in the jungle and your growing knowledge in relation to the forest, the wildlife and the biodiversity of the Amazon means that you develop a real passion for your subject matter.
You fall more in love with the forest with every trek.
Before I came out to Peru my friends were incredibly supportive but had also thought me slightly mad. Running off to the middle of the jungle, three months of cold showers and not a lot of wifi - the ultimate modern day horror.
Admittedly life here is simple, but it is also so damn refreshing.
Every morning we wake to the sounds of the macaws and Gavina, our resident sloth. We travel by boat, if at all. We wash our clothes by hand. We drink beer by candlelight. We sleep in glorified huts, lacking in both doors and windows. But if it means I get to watch the Milky Way as I fall asleep then I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our Sunday off is spent in the hammocks and swimming in the river, although, to be honest, most of us just can’t resist another day in the jungle. Camp here quickly becomes a kind of home.
Now, as I enter my final month here, I can say that my experience with Crees has been thought provoking to say the least. I’ve been pushed to work hard with purpose, encouraged to question myself and my actions, and been given a real thinking platform on which to consider my career path.
It has given me certainty that conservation is the arena I want to enter, strengthened my faith in the importance of research, exposed me to a different kind of working lifestyle, and finally, reinforced the courage in my conviction that it’s ok not to take that big city job. There are plenty other exciting options. Phew.