We scrambled into the cabins. It was a first-come, first-served situation. Honestly, I felt like the whole group (perhaps with the exception of Anna) were in kindergarten. Isaac made sure he had the first room, while Toby fought Sophie for one room, even though all of the rooms were identical. I was the last person who was still standing outside the rooms, and so I went to the last room that no one had picked.
Right after I’d used the toilet and did some room organization, I heard the blow of the trumpet. The class gathered in the open area. The area had been cleared down to make an open space in front of the cabins; there were no trees.
Mr Ryan stood, straightening himself so that he was as tall as he could, although his height was not much changed from normal.
“Alright.” he started. “We’re going to start first by learning teamwork.” I could hear someone groan, and the act was justified. We were being treated like kids. (‘OK, kids, we’re gonna be focusing on working with each other to build sandcastles!’) Mr Ryan paused for a moment after seeing the twisted faces of the whole class, and he laughed a big belly laugh. “Oh come on, cheer up. It’ll be fun. Actually, no. I should say that it’s going to be VERY exciting.” He grinned.
“But we’re not going to be doing it today. Instead, today, I want to have us walk around this area first, so that we get accustomed to it. This is no boring terrain, I assure you. Get into your groups and I’ll explain.” We quickly moved to our groups. “Tomorrow, I will send you out in independent groups to accomplish a certain mission in the forest. Without teachers.” Mr Ryan said the last words with certain emphasis, and the class cheered. Ms Laura, however, started protesting. The fat guide just continued speaking. “What’s a trip without some independence?” he said with a wink, receiving even more cheers and applause. “But not today. I want to let you explore around this area first, so that you don’t get lost. Follow me as I walk.”
Mr Ryan started walking towards the woods, away from the man-made clearing. People followed eagerly. I wasn’t too excited, because we’ve had residential trips to other national parks before, but the thought of having no teacher tomorrow was a fun idea. I glanced around to look at Mr Smith, the other guide. He didn’t say anything when Mr Ryan was talking. I could see that Mr Smith and Mr Noah were whispering something with each other. Probably plans for tomorrow.
Entering the woods, I could no longer see very far away from where I was standing. The trees were thick and the floor under the foliage was slightly dark. My group wasn’t near the head of the line, where Mr Ryan was talking. His voice was soothing and reassuring, however.
“This area”, he was saying, “is pretty deep into the national park. Except for this camp, you won’t find any human settlement for miles. You’ll feel like civilization never existed!” He chuckled at his own joke. “And, by the way, don’t worry; there’s never been a tiger sighted around here.”
Daniel, whose group happened to be in front of my group, gave a chuckle. “I was wondering about that”, he said to me. I nodded. “It’s nice to know, I guess”.
We walked further into the woods. There was no trail that we could use, and the way was often blocked by stones or trees, and so it wasn’t just smooth walking.
“Notice your surroundings”, Mr Ryan said. “Since you’re going to be here alone with your groupmates tomorrow, it’s best that you at least have a look around.” I decided to do as he said, and what the only things I could see were a stretch of trees that never seemed to end. How did humans even manage to cut down a tiny bit of the Amazon forest?
The surroundings were pretty much the same, and we walked on for around fifteen more minutes or so. It was a pretty cool experience, with Mr Ryan constantly pointing out the interesting things about the woods. I particularly liked the birds that he pointed out. The birds in the forest were not the sparrows that seem to be the only kind of birds to exist in the city, and although I couldn’t remember any of the names of the birds, I enjoyed seeing their colors and patterns. They would fly away when we walked.
I started hearing the sound of water splashing. No, it wasn’t raining, I was sure. I could see that people around me were looking around. After walking for about 3 more minutes, I reached the cause of the sounds. It was a waterfall.
It was a small waterfall. There was a pool around, and the water was crystal clear. There were round, brown stones in the water, and there were even really small fish swimming around. It was a very peaceful spot, and it’d have been a perfect spot for zen-like meditation…if my class wasn’t around.
I breathed in the fresh air, and I would have felt peace. If someone didn’t have the creativity to fart at that very moment.