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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Exploring nature differently

At least in the United States, our perspective towards the natual world often comes from an attitude of conquest. For much of our history, awe-inspiring mountains were just an impidiment to human expansion, and beautiful alpine lakes were not considered ecological wonders, but opportunities to create cities and serve an evergrowing population. This attitude continues even in the modern age of “conservation.” We, myself very much included, talk about hiking in terms of conquering the elements and the terrain. To summit a mountain is to “bag a peak”, as if we are just checking off another box in our effort to fully subject nature.

The time we spent in Qeros showed me a different way of thinking about my relationship to the natural world. For them, nature is not some external beast to be conquered, but their home and the root of their physical and spiritual existence. Climbing a mountain is an exercise of joining and connecting with the nature around you, not fighting against it.

Seeing all of this showed me a dramatically different, and I believe potentially more fulfilling, way of thinking about ones relationship to nature, and something that I am looking forward to practicing more back at home.