On all sides but one, Jalova is surrounded by dense rainforest. Along that other side is the Caribbean Sea and a black-sand beach. This beach was a short walk away, so I’d visit it quite often, usually to sit but sometimes to nap. Whenever I would wake up from one of these naps, I would see the waves crashing onto the ash-colored sand, and at times, I wondered if I were still dreaming.
At 22 years old, I was collecting data that would help the local government establish laws to protect the wildlife within the country. To my surprise, everyone at Jalova was in their twenties, and this included a majority of the staff as well. Each of us came from different parts of the world, many from the UK, others from places like Ireland, France, Belgium, and Germany.
This wasn’t my first time meeting people from other countries as the community college I attended had exchange students from various parts of the world. What made this place unique was that we not only cooked and cleaned for one another, but we also worked and laughed together knowing only the other’s name and country of origin. Some of us were there because the work we were doing related to our fields of study.