Inspired By Jungletown

By Jessica Wiegandt—Spring 2018 Media Student


At The Very Least, Don’t Cut Off  Your Own Leg…

I woke up on day four of living in the Panamanian jungle, not quite sure of what the day ahead of me held. After breakfast, I was wielding a machete, being trained by two campesinos, doing my best not to cut my leg off.

fIn the afternoon, I found myself staring into the eyes of a stranger, noticing the flecks of hazel scattered throughout the darker brown. Together, student Logan Adams and I sat on a wooden platform in the jungle during a psychedelic love workshop, silently looking at one another, finding a peaceful rhythm as our breathing synchronized. Adams, a 32-year-old nurse from Austin, Texas, is one of 17 students at Kalu Yala this spring.

Building With Your Hands Using More Than Just Legos

Adams came to Kalu Yala after watching “Jungletown,” a series produced by Viceland about the sustainable community in the jungle. “I actually liked it [the show],” Adams says, “I immediately knew that I needed to do this [the internship]. I felt the wind at my back, pushing me towards this way.”

He is in the Construction Arts program for Spring 2018 and says he is ready to start building. “I’m psyched because I don’t really have much building experience, really anything above Lego’s… I never even played Minecraft,” Adams says, “But this is a skill I want in my repertoire so I am able to use my hands to build.”

Not Exactly a Town In Complete Disarray

“Jungletown” portrayed the town and institute as a company in disarray. “I understood that it was fabricated so I saw through the narrative to what was beneath, which was adventure, opportunity, and escape from the western world,” Adams says. “I would have rather seen a straight documentary, but still I saw a calling for adventure. The jungle called me.”

Each student at Kalu Yala takes on an individual project to work on for the duration of the semester. The projects root in sustainability and will be creations benefiting the overall community.

“My idea is to build a meditation chair, plural or singular. I don’t know if that’s what the community wants so I’ll have to talk with my group and see what the consensus is,” Adams says. There are four students in the Construction Arts program this semester and collaboration on idea development is encouraged and essential.

Dirty Hands. Wet Feet. Better Life.

“I want to be involved with other programs, too. Get get my hands dirty in agriculture, get my toes wet with a little cooking. I want to do a lot of hiking, be involved with the community of San Miguel, and improve my Spanish,” Adams says. “Like I said earlier, I like following the wind. I’m in a place in my life where I can do whatever the hell I want. I want to experience this place.”

Discussing topics for research, innovation, and ways to apply knowledge. | Photo by Jess Wiegandt

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