I initially arrived to Panama at night; during the drive from the airport to Gamboa, I heard the sounds of the rainforest in the dark for the very first time, and I felt awe of nature wash over me.
A couple of weeks into my time here, Andy organized a night hike. Thinking back to how I felt during that first drive from the airport, I was super excited for the opportunity to explore the jungle in the dark.
And what an incredible night this was! I mean, just look at all the cool creatures we saw!!
A highlight of the hike was when the whole group took a couple of moments to turn all our lights and headlamps off, allowing our eyes to adjust to the darkness. Within a few moments, your eyes will read more details in your surroundings, and the layers of the forest start to form; slowly, you begin to see the canopy, then the stream banks, then people’s silhouettes. Eventually, fine details that you don’t expect start coming through, like stream pebbles and people’s faces!
One of my greatest takeaways from this experience is how rejuvenating exposure to nature can be, even when the expedition seems daunting. I would be lying if I said I was not a little nervous going into the rainforest at night, but the experience was actually grounding and regenerative. Given that I grew up near the Red Sea, the closest thing I could compare this hike to is a scuba dive or snorkeling trip; you take your time to wander a novel, incredibly biodiverse environment, pointing out all the cool creatures that you spot to the rest of the group.
I feel inspired by all the cool patterns and textures we saw – the slimy Red Eyed Tree Frog egg clutches, dark canopy silhouettes, and infinite frog color combinations. I’m looking forward to returning to the Dinalab and incorporating these elements of nature into my work.