Monday, June 30, 2014

Fake it ‘til you make it

[The blog posts that follow were written over the course of summer 2014. Since there was no internet access during my stay on the Amazon, I wrote posts on my laptop when it felt appropriate, and I plan to post these musings sporadically this fall. Thanks for reading! 
-ejh, 12 August 2014] 

About a month ago, some folks in the UK asked if I’d be interested in leading the fisheries surveys for their education/conservation program (Operation Wallacea, for those who want to Google it) this summer…

in Peru…

on a tributary of the Amazon River.

And while I’m fairly secure in my knowledge of many fishy things, I am in no way qualified to take kids into the jungle to catch/identify any of the thousands of species that may wind up in our nets. As my boss so bluntly put it: why did they want you?

Fair point. (But ouch, right?)

So of course I said yes.

Having spent the majority of my winter sitting sedentary nursing a bum knee following a nasty ski accident, I was probably ABSOLUTELY overdue for a new adventure. And for the first time in three years, instead of diving with the cichlids in the most amazing lake in the world, the plan for the UW field team involved sweating it out in Madison by nasty, green, Lake Mendota, writing papers, and analyzing data (yawn).

And so, “fake-it-‘til-you-make-it” has become my new personal mantra, and each morning, my plan is to don a “fish ecologist” hat and act like I know what I’m doing.

[I have no idea what I’m doing.]

If nothing else, I’ll get to see a new corner of the world (I’ve always wanted to visit South America!), and I'll (hopefully) collect some new stories along the way.

When I couldn't decide whether or not to go, a good friend asked me what I’d regret more: canceling the fun summer plans I’d made in the US (canoe trips, music festivals, bike-riding!) or missing the unknown wilds of the Amazon Jungle. So I figure, even if turns out to be awful, “I went” is always a better story than “I had the chance to go, but…”

And when it’s all said and done in this life, I want to make sure I did it all.

Here goes nothing.