Yangtze River Headwaters Volunteering Day 24 长江源志愿工作第24天

This is a series of journals recording my days in the Yangtze River Headwaters volunteering project. I will try to update every day but there might be delays in the days I work in the wild without the internet. I’m also trying to write bilingual if time allows. Like it? Follow my Instagram (@anar.chica.yichenguo) for updates!

The work today was very simple. The group of guest finally left in the morning, so we cleaned up the whole station afterwards. Other than that, I was in the kitchen helping to cook meals. Duoduo saw our tiring face during lunch time, and said to us,’I’ll give all of you a tough task for the rest of the day today: take a nap until 2:30 in the afternoon, and then rest in the post office.’

I thought I couldn’t sleep for so long at noon but unexpectedly I made until 2:30 pm. I went to the post office afterwards to finish the book I read yesterday called <Intimate Contact with Amazon> and then changed for another book <Green Journey Around the Globe> on the bookshelf in the exhibition room. And I started to feel unwell after a few pages of it. I have to comment on the attitudes of the travel writers, especially those who are environmentalists as well. In the book <Intimate Contact with Amazon>, the author mention the word ‘proud’ several times, with which he indeed meant himself quite outstanding. When describing those unusual experiences, there were signs of obvious exaggerations as well. For example, the author said that many of them in the team couldn’t get a good night’s sleep because of the howler monkeys’ howls. During my stay in the Amazon jungle, every night there was also a group of howler monkeys passing by the conservation center that I stayed. Sometimes I was woken up by them too, but that sound was not annoying at all, that was the sound of nature. Every sound was short, with a crescendo and then fade away, instead of suddenly and scarily. And combining with the sounds of insects, frogs, birds of the rainforest, the jungle symphony can put you back to sleep again after just a few bars. We were around ten volunteers and nobody failed to sleep well because of howler monkeys, unless intentionally keep oneself awake to record the beautiful sounds, which I did once. But I shouldn’t be too arbitrary. Maybe it happened that all members of this scientific research team are light sleepers.

Apart from that, the book also described how they were panicked when they found a caiman during a night patrol. I don’t know if the author didn’t do any preparation beforehand (as a member of scientific research team, he didn’t even know about the basics of caimans’ habit. Wasn’t that too irresponsible?) or he’s exaggerating. Anyway, at that time we were fighting for the opportunities to find caimans. It is among the most popular and interesting activities. This reminds me of a documentary called <Dancing with Sharks> that I watched at a marine protection exhibition. The film was made by a student from Nanjing University. For me his uncontrollable fears before getting into the water was such an exaggeration as well. I think for most of the divers (99%, if not 100%), what a desirable experience to dance with sharks! From Puerto Rico where I saw nurse sharks for the first time, to the Bahamas where a huge group of Caribbean reef sharks passing through my side back and forth, every shark encounter raised my adrenaline crazily that I even wanted to hold them in my arms to play (but that’s not allowed because we may damage their skins). But maybe that documentary is meant for people who don’t know the ocean so well. Only exaggerated ‘actings’ can deliver his messages more effectively. Anyway, I don’t think I could make any video so against reality.

<Green Journey Around the Globe> seems to have lots of valuable information worth a read after briefly looking through the book. However the author could not hold his feeling of superiority while writing this book. From the very beginning he wrote: I see myself as a green ambassador, how glorious and what a long way to go! This trip started from the year 1980 until 1998, so maybe this kind of expression is a representative of the value system of that period of time. I wouldn’t comment too much about that. I think it’s ok to label oneself, but environmental protection is really personal, there is nothing glorious or great. Because of the love to nature, one cannot stand any kind of damages, therefore protect it. It’s like Dr. Han couldn’t stand how dirty the pickup was so she started cleaning it. Like what I analysed in my previous journal, environmental protection itself is meaningless in a truly civilised world. It doesn’t need to exist at all. It is because of human activities’ destructions to nature that generated the concept of environmental protection. What’s so glorious wiping your own ass? I’m also an environmentalist, but I only feel shameful for human beings.

But this is not the most important. This at most are the personal feelings of the authors which doesn’t affect me or the rest of the world. The more critical is, although many people are fighting for the nature now, there are also many people who are indifferent or even strongly against it (for example the dumb ass presidents of Brazil and US). Many environmentalists indeed overdo the propagandas. It’s like patriotism turning into chauvinism. Things would have opposite affect when it’s over done. They have raised dislikes of many people. And in this time when environmental protection is not yet widely accepted, if the environmentalists address the ‘glory’ of this act or their own ‘greatness’ too much, to the ones who are against it, it’s like accusing them to be ‘despicable’. Therefore increased the hostility. I think this is something all environmentalists should pay attention to during any kind of propagandas.






Catching caiman at night.

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