Every time I’ve travelled for an extended period of time I have changed. Its virtually inevitable because travelling for several months at a time is the kind of experience that changes you, no matter how many times you do it. Sometimes that change is good and sometimes that change is bad. There are also times when that change is just change and no subjective quality like good or bad can be placed upon it. I have arrived at the stage of my time in Costa Rica where I am aware of the changes that I have been undergoing and not all of them are changes that I am thrilled to be aware of. Thankfully those changes are outnumbered by those changes that I think are good and those changes that are simply changes and are neither good nor bad. One of those changes from the latter category is that I have decidedly gotten hairier in my time here; my arms and chest have definitely got more hair on them than when I arrived.
It would be nice to be able to say that the changes I am not thrilled to be aware of are as straight forward as having more body hair, however that is not the nature these sorts of things. Changes are entirely pervasive and touch every part of your being. I have, it seems, diminished in certain ways that I have always thought to be quite fundamental to my being who I am and the idea that even those parts of me could change is not something I’d ever thought of. The change in question can be surmised, however crudely, with the simple phrase: I have lost my good nature. It doesn’t really do justice to what has actually happened however, in part because it appears to say that I have totally lost those qualities that gave me a good nature. I haven’t lost them; they are simply diminished in some capacity as compared to when I came to Costa Rica.
I really only became aware of the changes to my fundamental sense of self when one of the other volunteers made a remark that in the past would have been what I said. It wasn’t until then that I was struck by how much I had changed from the person I was when I arrived in Costa Rica. That was how I knew that I was lost in the Jungle. Considering the changes that I’ve undergone whilst being lost I definitely regard the Jungle as a transformative metaphor. I have grown and matured both personally and spiritually, my abilities as a teacher have vastly improved in my time here and I am certain that they will continue to improve. These are all things that I have the Jungle to thank for. However I am also aware that my time here has given rise to opinions and perspectives that I don’t view in a positive light – thankfully I know why those things have come to be a part of me and more importantly how to let them fade and cease being a part of me.
As far as metaphorical Jungles go, the rainforests of Costa Rica serve better than most. Being secluded here has meant that I’ve been able to mature and grow as a Pagan and Heathen in ways I never thought possible back home. The drawback to that is that I have been secluded, experiencing only the same handful of people each day who are fundamentally unhappy here. I have both allowed their influence to have an affect upon me but I have also been away from those people who remind me of the person that I really am. I am always going to be thankful for my time here, for getting lost in the jungle, but I have also found a path leading out and I look forward to the day I put the Jungle behind me.