My knees are close to my chin, and I’m canting my head because of the low roof. The bus that is racing into the Ecuadorian rain forest is a converted truck with benches and a roof made of wood. While the Salsa-music is trying to drown the sound of the branches hitting the truck, I think about what brought me into this nothingness. My destination is the house, Pambilinho, home of two Ecuadorian brothers who actually did what generally stays a thought: leaving society behind and moving into nature. Into the Wild. I love this movie.
After three hours I see the Pambilinho sign at the side of the road and pound my hand against the roof to tell the bus driver to stop.
A 500 meter walk through the mud and I’m standing in front of a two-level, bamboo house. Ground and second floor are completely open, only the first floor has an actual room. Instead of glass there are mosquito nets in different colors in the windows.
“Bienvenido!” Ronald – one of the brothers – arrives and welcomes me with a handshake. He has black curly hair and vivid eyes. “The water pipeline at the river needed to be fixed,” he says.
After a short break, Ronald takes me on a tour to show me around. Armed with a machete and rubber boots I follow him uphill. “Our main objective is to re-establish our connections with nature,” Ronald tells me over his shoulder. As we reach the peak of the mountain I wonder whether my clothes are wet from the rain, my sweat or the humidity. Ronald waves his arms to explain which parts of the endless forest are their territory.
We use the rest of the daylight to work. Four simple steps: Dig a hole, put seeds inside, throw two hands of chicken shit on top and cover it with palm leaves. Hole, Seed, Shit, Leaves. Hole, Seed, Shit, Leaves. The point where I cared how dirty or wet I am has long passed.
While cooking dinner back at the house, Ronald tells me about the beginning of his project. How they had no water, no electricity, no house. I’m tired from the day, but this is fascinating.
Finally, I crawl under my mosquito net on the second floor. The sound of rain and chirping crickets reminds me of the music on relaxation CDs. Only louder.
After two more days at Pambilinho I’m back in the bus. Staring into the whooshing forest, I still hear Ronald’s gentle voice. How he tells me that you simply shouldn’t be afraid of not having money. And while the bus rushes back towards civilization I think: The first thing I’ll do at home, is take down my “Into-the-Wild” poster.
This article is my application for the Travel Writing Scholarship of WorldNomads. Find this and other entries here.