Thirty-five strangers all gathered for the first time in a valley far removed from electricity and all other modern conveniences to celebrate the beginning of something new. All afternoon we explored the surrounding wilderness, basking in the crystal pools, or wading through the tall grass and the enveloping arms of fauna to find a hidden gurgling creek. Others found themselves raucously absorbed in a primal tournament of volleyball that took no prisoners. And still others found themselves napping the afternoon away, swinging in hammocks suspended beneath canopies of waving palm fronds, with the lullabies of cicadas and far-off howler monkeys making the perfect soundtrack to an intern’s life.
And as the sun slowly dipped behind the western mountains and dusk enveloped us, we lit candles and suspended headlamps to light our first meal as companions. Food always seems to taste better, sweeter, when shared with incredible people in a beautiful environment. We lit a bonfire that slowly released her crackling embers to the pristine night sky, to mingle with the winking stars and rising moon.
And the fireflies danced, flitting around our heads and dirty toes as we talked and laughed, until the dawn sun breaking over the mountains whisked away their playful light. Yet, even as their glow waned, a new one was bursting across the lush valley, glowing from within the minds and hearts of thirty-five fresh-faced interns ready to embark on ventures for the next twelve weeks. Whether we had come to the jungle to construct, develop, inspire, nurture, sustain, or research, we were bonded by our ideals and goals. We parted ways, no longer strangers, destined for different projects and groundbreakings all across this foreign country, but the echoes of enthusiasm and creativity still lingers.