When I was a little girl I spent four years living in the British Virgin Islands. I loved every minute of it; I wanted it to never end. One of the things we used to do – one of the things I miss – was hiking in the rainforest. We would drive up, up, up, and go for a nice long hike before hitting the beach.
The rainforest was magical to me.
I recall the sound of crunching rock – or is it a feeling?- under my feet. I recall hopping up onto smooth gray boulders. Up there I felt like queen of the world. I remember looking at the underside of ferns and wondering where the spots came from. I remember marveling at leaves of elephant ear as big – bigger, even – as me. I remember the smell of earth and moisture in the air.
To me, magic hung in the air there.
On my second day in Pai I go on an impromptu hike. As we head toward what we think is a nearby waterfall, we abandon paved roads for country lanes. A solitary scooter whizzes by. We trudge onwards, swapping a country lane for a smaller path. I meet a cow. I pet the cow. She walks away, uninterested in my lack of snacks.
We reach a river and decide to cross it. I’m wearing sandals and I look down at the cool, crisp water running over my feet. Pebbles tumble past in the current. The river is lined with banana trees. There are vines everywhere. I look around and see green, green, green.
It smells earthy here; I breathe it in.
My heart rate has slowed, my muscles have relaxed. And then I hear it.
My mind, mouthing three words to me: “part of something.”
I’ve mentioned these words before, and now they’re suddenly coming back to me.
Trudging through this river, looking at the leaves, I feel like a part of something.
A part of what? I’m not sure. But I suddenly feel it in every cell of my body. It’s a feeling of being exactly where I need to be at exactly the right moment. I’m standing in a river, doing nothing in particular. And yet? Yet I feel this sudden conviction that I am a part of something.
Maybe this is nostalgia. Maybe it’s the fact that seeing banana leaves makes me feel at home. Maybe it’s that the smell of earth smells of adventure.
All I know is that here in Pai, I’m suddenly beginning to feel very strongly that I am a part of something.
I feel it in a different way than ever before.