Sundays have become a great day to dedicate some me-time. The way that I found out how I can spend some me time is by hiking Mt. Tom located in my town, Holyoke, Massachusetts. I have visited before, and I am fairly new to the hiking trails in the area. After researching what to bring, I found myself ready with a backpack, hat, hiking shoes and a big enthusiasm to walk alongside the woods. I found that I was nervous and started to think of great quotes and sayings my abuela and abuelo used to say to me. “Hecha pa’ lante, sigue tu camino” and when I felt lost, the first thing I said “ea rayo, me perdí!” But I didn’t get lost at all, I went to another trail that I have never been before!
Then I realized that En la vida, we must be brave to cross bridges. It will move us hacia adelante. To be able to see that while hiking, a bridge through the path will lead to a more beautiful site that is hidden in the bosque.
After crossing the bridge, I kept walking where the trail leads to and I was able to hear the birds, the water hit the rocks, como una cascada and saw the beautiful árboles dancing with the wind. I sat down and started to sketch plants that I haven’t seen before and started to observe the landscape.
As an environmental education student, I am starting to learn how to look at the forested landscape and be able to see plant species grows there, what type of soil is underneath and what was the historical use of the forest, was the area cultivated, did it had livestock, or was it just a forest as it is today? All of these questions came up in my head and I started to write it down on my journal, as the wind kept making the trees dance, the water hitting the rocks kept making the rhythm as the drums of la Bomba y Plena, and the birds singing como un trovador.
Mi cultura puertorriqueña, is alive within me. Nature helps me perceive it in different ways. From the sounds of nature that remind me of typical music, to the taste of plants which as jíbaros, we cared for and use plants for food and medicinal purposes. Nature, especially the forest, can be overwhelming and as I felt, anxious because you can either get lost, or find yourself. I decided to find myself and relate what I see, hear and feel in the forest back to my raíces, mis raíces puertorriqueñas.
Cynthia Espinosa Marrero is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Environmental Science with a concentration of Environmental Education at Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire. Her passion lies in empowerment of the community through food and environmental projects. Cynthia enjoys hiking, learning about forest ecology and indigenous knowledge. Cynthia is also our newest Latino Outdoors Ambassador in New England. She will be sharing her experiences in the outdoors and be a voice in the community as an Latino Outdoors ambassador.