Many of the farmers who have stayed and now embrace forest life in the Northwest could have just as easily emigrated like so many of their friends and neighbors have, seeking a brighter future in the big city.
This would effectively have reversed the flow begun by their parents way back when, who decided to live out here in what forever has been the middle of nowhere for the rest of the world.
But for those who avoided the temptation, this is home, amidst a tangled realm of plants and animals, making their way through the brush with an all-purpose machete and five-dollar rubber boots that beat the best top-of-the-line walking shoes no-matter what their price. They find peace where others see anarchy, and balance, where others sense fear.
“There is nothing”, says Luis Yánez – son of a colonizer who settled in the área in the sixties — “that compares to leaving the settlement behind and taking a step through the forest’s door”. He wakes up at sunrise to the dawn chorus of birds and frogs and an avian feeding frenzy of prismatic color. He climbs and lets himself slide down muddy trenches to move across the mountain, where innumerable plants and trees hold on to the slippery, free-falling slope in perfect equilibrium. After a day of trekking, of opening trails, of feeling the buzz of hummingbirds jetting past as his footsteps slush through eternal slough, his sleep is so sound and dreams so deep, nothing could wake him, not even the owl hooting above his zinc-roof home.