Author’s comment: There is a big change going on in Julia’s life. Moving from London to the Amazon forest was the biggest thing that could have ever happened to Julia: leaving her school and friends behind, being ripped apart from her best person in the world- Grandma, and heading to a place where she doesn’t speak the native language is depressing enough for her. Little does she know that this is only the beginning....
We got out of the airport much quicker than I thought possible compared to the days or maybe weeks we seemed to have been flying. As soon as we reached the gate, a man was waiting with a sign bearing MR WHITE on it, my father’s surname.
‘Bom dia, Mr White. My name is Jonathan and I will be escorting you to the hotel. I hope you had a nice flight?’ the friendly man said, in a funny accent. He was wearing a bright yellow T-shirt, loose knee length shorts and Havaianas, as simple as that. His hair was cropped short but I could tell he had the same satin black hair I inherited from my Grandma.
‘It was long, but what matters is that we’re here,’ my father said, offering his hand. The man shook it.
The only thing I noticed before we slid into the man’s car was the artificial lake built right in front of the airport entrance. Suddenly I wanted to see the sturdiness and the excess of modern detail at Heathrow Airport. A small lump formed in my throat, I swallowed it.
The short drive to the boat didn’t catch my attention. I was still sleep deprived and going through a sudden wave of bad mood, probably as a result of tiredness. The city was different from everything that was common to me, and I made myself a small promise to tour the city as soon as I felt better.
We still didn’t have a place to stay, but my father had a friend who owned a jungle lodge not too far from the city, and he offered us two rooms to stay for as long as we liked until my dad found us a suitable house.
When we were in London, he wanted to show me pictures of the lodge we would be staying but I refused to see them; I was too angry at him for disrupting my life like that, but now I wish I had seen them. If I had, I would have known what to expect.
The half-hour boat ride was mind-blowing. The view from where I stood was picturesque. I momentarily forgot about my bags, my hair billowed madly in the wind and I just looked. I already began to feel a lot more connected to my own roots. Grandma knew I would feel this way, as if a spiritual connection or something was bound to happen.
The river was not too wide, but the trees seemed to be trying to embrace it from both sides. I felt so small amongst the grandiosity of this place. I touched the water with my fingertips and I felt life underneath the water, as if the fish and other living creatures were greeting me upon my arrival. It was surreal, I tell you.
The sun was bright and already up in the painstakingly blue sky above my head, but before I had time to even begin to enjoy the ride, the boat reached the small pier. The jungle lodge was so camouflaged amongst the thick trees that at first I thought we weren’t there yet.
When the man turned off the engine, at first it felt like I’d gone deaf. But then the sounds of the forest reached me. New but intriguing squeaks and chirps of animals that I’d never seen before reached my ears from all sides; small rodents subtly scurried about amidst the bottom of the trees where there were heaps of loose, dead leaves.
‘Let me help you with your bags, miss,’ the man offered.
‘Obrigada.’ I got to use the only word in Portuguese that I knew.
To get to our rooms we had to walk down a path which was so covered with climbing plants and trees and tall bushes on top of them, that they made the long corridor a very dark shade of green. The air was so humid and hot, it made difficult to breathe, and I could feel a bead of sweat trickling down my neck.
The rooms the owner had put aside for our use were an addition to the natural environment of the place. Only natural material seemed to have been used to build the furniture and the decoration; it was probably made locally, maybe even by tribe people. Again, a strange sense of familiarity washed over me.
‘Your room is down that corridor miss, by the river,’ the friendly man said, pointing to a pretty trail leading downwards to a small cabin built a little above the water level.
The lodge wasn’t like any hotel I’d ever seen before. It wasn’t just one big building divided into rooms and facility rooms. There were small cabana-like buildings here and there, blended with the trees. They were all connected by ornamented trails, with direction signs everywhere.
The best news I had until now was that I could have my own room, and it wasn’t even next to my parents’, which was all I could ask for right now.
‘Here is your bag, Julia,’ my dad said, handing me my one and only bag. ‘Take a shower and have some rest. Your mother and I will do the same, then we can meet for lunch, what do you think?’
‘Great. See you later then.’ I was already walking down the corridor. Some privacy at last!
‘Do you want me to go with you, Julia?’ my mum asked, surprising me. She wasn’t used to being kind.
‘No, mum, it’s ok. I’ll see you later. I’ll be fine,’ I said, I would be as fine as I could be.
I waved to them and walked down the trail towards my room.
I could feel tears waiting to burst out any moment now. On one hand I was glad to be alone with my thoughts for a little while. As I walked down the trail, I tried to look ahead of today; I avoided looking back at what my life used to be like – I had already indulged myself earlier – and I tried, for a moment, to see the bright side of this new life. So many people would give anything to be where I was right now.
But on the other hand I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t know what lay ahead in my life. If my life was a book, tomorrow would be a blank page, as if the author had forgotten to write the next chapter, had gotten bored by the story or hadn’t thought it was worth writing on.
What would I do tomorrow? Walk around in the jungle? Not likely. I blinked, and my shirt caught a drop of tear. I barely noticed the remaining trail leading to my room – my eyes were swimming in salt water. I concentrated on fighting them back as hard as I could.
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