The Daily Commute.
If you take a short, traffic-free route to work, it may seem like precious little time between the comfort of your bed and the reality of your desktop. If you have a long and cluttered commute, it may be the damnedest hour of your day in which you give up on humanity, swear to move, quit your job, or sell your car. Whichever yours is, those three words rarely signal a walk in the park.
As I made my way to the base camp work station on Isla Palenque this morning, it struck me how funny it is to go on a jungle hike to work — especially in light of recent campaigns to “green your commute” by carpooling or biking. As the pictures illustrate, I might just have the greenest commute of any marketing professional on Earth. Twice a day, I am overwhelmed with gratefulness as I take this path, and although it took a lot of familiarization before I was confidently trekking through Isla Palenque’s path system, it’s been so rewarding that I encourage everyone who visits the island to spend some time alone with the jungle, embracing the solitude and discovery that can be found through unhurried exploration.
The first time I walked the route alone, I stopped every five minutes at a sound. What was that? My heart racing, eyes scanning one hundred vertical feet of space between my feet and the tops of the trees in order to source one barely-audible crinkle. But what you’ll quickly learn about the jungle is that the longer you hold still, the more invisible-to-you creatures will resume their activities before they heard a large mammal coming down the path. The leafy carpet of the jungle comes alive in a chorus of scuttles and darts, from which I’m able to pinpoint a lizard with neon yellow stripes, a russet-colored iguana trying to blend. A bird overhead makes a call that sounds like a child yelping with joy. And further back off the path, something with more weight than a bird or lizard makes its way…
…that’s when I run, jumping over tree roots and nearly having a heart attack when Cappuccino, the youngest and most curious island pup, appears out of nowhere with his bright blue eyes ablaze.
A few paces later, a bright yellow leaf spirals down and hits me on the head, and I scream and dance around as if attacked by a colony of bees. Cappu’ gives me an all-knowing look that says “weirdo” and sets off, probably to go have a barking contest with some sleepy howler monkeys. Realizing it was just a leaf, I laugh at myself, and finally relax my pace and my mind.
Now that I’ve managed to chill out, the jungle works its magic on me and I’m flooded with wonder. The sensation is part deja-vu – the first time I saw Palenque’s jungle and was bowled over with enchantment — and part coming home – like how you can look at something you love so many times, but forget to really see it until a realization brings you fresh eyes and a deeper appreciation.
When you go it alone, everything sharpens. The layers of trees stretching up to the cerulean sky. The patches of sunlight forming abstract patterns on the suddenly ever-so-red dirt trail. The burning in my calves – how could I have ever not noticed that the whole island dives towards and rises from the sea? The smell of a bloom wafting over from, oh, right up there – a tree full of delicate lavender blossoms comes into focus. Or that sudden realization of… wind? Waves? Wind? No, it’s the rush of the ocean, for sure.
Every day is different on the same path, which is why it always seems more of an adventure than a commute.
Can I claim that I have the greatest commute on earth? I’d love to hear stories of your favorite daily route.