I mentioned in my first post that I am looking for other work/volunteer opportunities while AVIDA gets going. Well, starting Tuesday I am going to work at a school called Las Malvinas. They have a fabulous garden with medicinal plants, decorative plants, produce, a turtle pond, a fish pond and it’s all organic! I went to the school Wednesday to check it out. They would like me to work with the students to develop a tour of the garden in English for tourists and donors who visit. My plan right now is to go to the school every Tuesday and Thursday for a couple of hours until the end of the school year which is in mid-December. The garden is funded by International Expeditions, but it is managed by CONAPAC, the other organization Marcos works with.
Sintia from CONAPAC is the person who initiated all of this for me, so thanks Sintia! I have to mention how great it has been getting to know Sinita. She has been living here in Iquitos for a few years now, but is originally from Brighton, Michigan (and has the same birthday as me)! Not only is she a lot of fun to be with, but she has been so helpful, spending time with her has been like an extremely useful class -“Intro to Gringa Life in Iquitos - 101”! Thanks again Sintia! (Check out her blog!)
After checking out the school, I was invited to tag along with Sintia, Alberto, and James from CONAPAC while they visited a community located near Explornapo Lodge! Finally, after nearly a month here in Peru, I had the chance to get out of the city! We took off Thursday morning along with some Explorama tourists headed to Ceiba Tops lodge on the Amazon River. We had lunch at Ceiba Tops, which was delicious, and I had a chance to say hi to some old friends I hadn’t seen since this summer. We then started out on our journey. We took an Explorama boat to the town of Indiana, which is just a short trip down river from Ceiba Tops.
From there we took a short cut on land to the Napo River, riding in moto-taxis from Indiana to the town of Mazan. I had never been to Indiana or Mazan, so this was very exciting for me! In Mazan, James was waiting for us in CONAPAC’s little boat. We then headed to Explornapo Lodge which is located just off the Napo River on the Sucusari River. If you look at my pictures, you’ll notice there are a lot of pictures of the rivers and of the Explornapo dock. I love seeing the changes in the water level! The water is at it’s lowest point right now, it looks much different from when I was here in June and July (when it was already relatively low); I can’t imagine how it will look in May when it is at it’s highest. I realize this may not be that interesting to everyone else, but I thought those of you who have been here would appreciate seeing the changes too!
|Napo dock in June|
|Napo dock in July|
|Napo dock in November|
We dropped off our things at the lodge and then headed to the community of Sucusari, which is past the lodge on the Sucusari River. There were butterflies everywhere, it was a beautiful day! The reason for our visit was that the community was having a gathering to celebrate the release of a bunch of baby Taricaya turtles they had hatched as a community project to help repopulate the species. As we headed along the Sucusari, it became more and more difficult to pass; the river is so low that it is full of tree trunks and branches. We eventually had to stop. Alberto and James got out to look for help. Alberto followed a trail through the jungle to the community, luckily we were getting close! He sent someone back in a peque-peque, a large dugout canoe with a motor, to get the rest of us!
|The CONAPAC boat|
|Sintia and I in the Peque-Peque|
When we finally arrived the community held a small presentation and then everyone headed to a pond to release the turtles.
|"Welcome to the Taricaya Liberation Party"|
They were so cute! All of the children in the community got to set a turtle free, and they named Sintia and I the madrinas, or godmothers of all of the turtles! (I am also the madrina of a llama in Ecuador, but that’s another story!)
|Sintia and I releasing some Taricayas|
We couldn’t stay very long because it was getting late and we needed to get back to our boat, then back to the lodge all before dark because the boat has no lights, and the river is a mess! We headed back to the boat in the peque-peque and made it to the lodge safe and sound. We were the only ones at the lodge besides staff! (For those of you wondering, no, I didn’t see Charlie the capybara, but I did see his dog friend and the trumpeter bird!) We also had a bucket of turtles from the Malvinas school in Iquitos to release at the lodge, so we headed to the botanical gardens after dinner to release the turtles in the pond there. It was a clear, moonless night, the stars were amazing!
The next day I woke to the beautiful sounds of my favorite Amazonian birds, oropendolas, as well as the harsh shrieks of my other favorite- macaws! After breakfast I went to visit another community with James and Alberto. It was just a quick visit to check up on some things. It was another gorgeous day! We all headed back to Mazan later in the morning, and then back to Indiana in moto-taxis.
|The road from Mazan to Indiana|
This time there were no Explorama boats heading back to Iquitos so we took a colectivo, which is basically like taking the bus back, except it’s a boat. This was also a first for me, as was the peque-peque! We were the first ones to arrive at the colectivo so we had to wait until it filled up before we could go.
|In the Colectivo|
It was a pretty quick ride back to Iquitos, the port was full of people traveling like us or bringing products to the market.
Every time we arrived somewhere there was always a steep hike up, the water is so low! At the port there is a sort of stairway/bridge that rises with the water, so when the water is high, it floats up and has a gentle slope. Right now, it is pretty steep, I was glad to only have my backpack to carry!