Every Picture Tells a Story: Five Miles High from the Amazon Rain Forest — Brazil (2008)
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY
FIVE MILES FROM THE AMAZON RAINFOREST
The pilot came on and announced, “we’re now flying directly over the Amazon River and the world’s largest rain forest.”
It’s not enough to see it on TV. You’ve got to really SEE it. Gazing out the cabin window, it was an awesome sight to behold, yet also a scary feeling. Here we were, in a metal tube propelling through the morning sky 35,000 feet up, which put us within 5 miles of the jungle wild. It was beautiful. It was massive. it was frightening. it was enlightening. It was a revelation of life.
To measure our insignificance, we need not leave the earth nor gaze into the cosmos. That just amplifies our smallness. We must only look to here and now — all around us at where we are, where we live, and the places we travel. Any one of us would be lost to nature if dropped into the Amazon Rain Forest. We would become just another food source for hungry reptiles and warrior ants.
Hours earlier, Marieta and I had boarded a transcontinental American Airlines flight in Dallas headed for Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a working vacation. I was excited to visit South America for the first time. Not sure why, but I didn’t think much about the flight there and what we would see along the way. The airliner took off near midnight for an overnight flight that would take 11 hours. Wait, it takes 11 hours to get there and we’re still in the Americas?
We — and by that I mean I — don’t cmpute well in terms of distances where traveling from north to south, and vice versa. For instance, it’s easy to measure and comprehend the scale of flying west and east across the United States, which takes about 4 hours, or flying from New York to London, which takes perhaps 7 hours. But weighing the time and distance of crossing the equator and landing in the Southern Hemisphere is, well, confusing. Fact is, South America is on the other wide of the world, just as Asia and Africa are on the other side of the world.
When the morning sun came, the horizon was green and blue. And as the sun became brighter, the water shined like mirrors. And we flew and we flew and we flew and we flew, and while the Amazon River faded in the distance the Amazon Rain Forest did not. It just got greener, and darker, and deeper.
I admit the Amazon is not something I wish to visit. Swamps and heat and humidity and jungles, and dangerous animals, and hanging out with poisonous insects are NOT my idea of enjoyment. I admire those who partake in adventure, but those thrills are not for me. I prefer viewing it from a distance, preferably with a Bloody Mary in my hand. Nonetheless, to see it firsthand — even from the comfort of an airliner — was awe inspiring.
In October 2008, I took this photograph out of the window of an American Airlines flight while over the Amazon River in Brazil.