Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays


December has been another busy month!  At the beginning of the month I was finishing up my 2nd week with the Conapac end of the year evaluation team.  This was my 2nd year helping out.  Conapac visits all of the 57 communities that we work in, plus some communities who are interested in working with us next year.  I went to a few communities that I had been to before, and a few that were new to me.  The community evaluations are always interesting; it’s so rewarding to visit a community that really takes full advantage of all the support Conapac has to offer.  At the same time, evaluations can be very frustrating, some communities are struggling, maybe because of lack of organization among the community’s authorities, or lack of initiative from the community’s teachers.  Either way, these communities always serve as a reminder that there is a lot of work to be done next year.  

2011 Evaluation Team
 
We wrapped up our year at the libraries with a traditional Peruvian Christmas party called a Chocolatada.  As you may have guessed from the name, a Chocolatada involves chocolate!  The highlight of the party is drinking hot chocolate, made on an open fire in a huge pot, mixed with cinnamon and cloves.  It is a mystery to me why anyone would want to boil a giant pot of chocolate in the middle of the day in the steamy Amazon, but I have to admit it was tasty, even while sweating! 

Lara Preparing the Hot Chocolate
The other tradition at a Chocolatada is eating panetones.  A paneton is a large round bread filled with raisins and dried papaya that is dyed red and green.  Personally, I am not a huge paneton fan, I don’t really like the dried papaya, but it is a treat here. 

Cutting Up and Buttering the Panetones

We held our first Chocolatada at the Sapo Playa branch where they recently completed a new mural for the outside of the library.  The mural was started with students from a school in Lima during a service project in November.  There were about 60 people at the Chocolatada in Sapo Playa.

New Mural- "Navigating the River of Reading"

The next day we had our Chocolatada in the main branch.  There were about 120 people there, it was a lot of fun.  Pirata and Tello got in the holiday spirit too!


Pirata and I
Tello was not a fan of getting dressed up.

Kids in Sapo Playa

Ronald and Robinho

In December, James from Conapac finished up 2 mini water treatment plants, one in each branch!  We received funding from one from the Fremont Michigan Rotary club, we are still looking to fund the 2nd one. Thanks Fremont Rotary!  In January we will have water workshops to teach the students how to use the water plants and to teach them about the importance of drinking clean water. 

The New Mini Water Plant in the Palmeras Branch


Last weekend was our first Christmas concert. The choir and guitar students from the library had been working since March to prepare for this concert.  The students arrived in Iquitos Saturday, for many it was their first time in the city.  The kids stayed at a church retreat center with bunk beds, flushing toilets, and showers- very different from home!  The kids are used to sleeping on the floor, bathing in the river, and using latrines or nature for their bathroom necessities.  Saturday we had some downtime before rehearsal, so we watched “How to Train Your Dragon” (THANKS MOM!) and drew pictures.  The concert was put on by a youth cultural center in Iquitos called Irapay.  Their choir and our choir joined together for the show.  The kids went to the Irapay center for rehearsal in the afternoon, and back to the retreat center for dinner and bed. 

Rehearsal

The same weekend, Conapac organized an art exhibition at Irapay with student art from the communities of Yanamono I and Sapo Playa.  It was great.  Yanamono had a lot of recycled art- picture frames made from recycled newspaper, Christmas trees from recycled plastic bottles, and imaginative sculptures made from roots.  

At the Art Exhibit with Teachers and Students

Sunday morning the students rehearsed at the cathedral where the concert would be held that night.  It was my first time in the cathedral, it was very beautiful.  It was neat to see the kids reactions, most of them had never been in a building even remotely like it.  

Inside the Cathedral

 We had a lot of free time in the afternoon, so we watched more movies, and I painted all of the girls’ fingernails!  They all reassured me their parents would be ok with it!  

Showing Off Their Pink Nails!

The concert went very well, our kids were wonderful!  There were also presentations from flute and violin students from Irapay.  A few of the kids were super nervous before and during the show, one little girl sang with her eyes closed the entire time!  Another little girl kept grabbing her brother’s hand while they sang, it was very sweet.  

Showtime!



After the concert we all went out to dinner.  The next morning everyone was exhausted, but we kept going, visiting the Quistococha Zoo. It was a quick visit, with kids puking on the bus on the 40 minute ride there, and the 40 minute ride home!! They’re not used to traveling on busses either.  Even though we all had fun at the zoo, I think we were all ready to go home!  They headed back to the jungle and I stayed in Iquitos for a few days.

Now we won’t have students at the library until mid January.  We’ll be working on a complete inventory of both branches, and enjoying the holidays a little too.  I am spending Christmas in Iquitos with Cynthia and Pam and her family again.  Cynthia is an amazing cook, and my mouth is already watering thinking about the turkey, stuffing, pies, and everything else she is making tomorrow!!  We will be spending New Year’s Eve in the jungle, celebrating with families in the community of Palmeras.  

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Library's Fall Newsletter




CCC Amazon Library
Fall 2011



Dear Library Friends.

Greetings from the Amazon! I hope this newsletter finds you all enjoying crisp fall weather somewhere, it is hot here of course!  Things have been busy at the library since Nancy’s departure in July.  For me personally, the past few months have been amazing.  I feel so fortunate to be able to continue Nancy’s legacy.   I came to the Amazon for the first time as a teenager and was immediately hooked.  I returned many times with my mom, a teacher who brings students to the Amazon every two years, but I have always wanted to stay.  It has been my dream since I was 17 to live and work here, and it has turned out to be more than I could have ever imagined.  I love the beauty of the rainforest, (I have the most breathtaking “commute” to work of anyone I know), but the children have stolen my heart! Their laughter as we play a game or as we read a book, fills me with joy.  So, thank you Nancy, for starting this dream, and thank you to all of the friends of the library who have continued to support this dream over the years.  I am so grateful for the children’s sake, but also for my own!  I look forward to being a part of the library for many years to come. 

Thank you,
Megan Thomas




New Reading Corners

The last of our 3 new reading corners was completed in August with students from Global Explorer’s Learning AFAR program.  Students from Chicago, Houston, and New York City donated 1,500 books in a partnership with the Pearson Foundation called We Give Books.  For each book that the students read back home, a book was donated to the students in the Amazon, a great way to get everyone reading!  While visiting the Amazon the Global Explorers students completed service projects with CONAPAC in the communities of Santa Isabela, Manati I Zona, and Nuevo San Juan del Amazonas. In each community the students built book shelves to house the new books, and when the work was over the students had a chance to practice their Spanish, reading the new books with the children and playing soccer of course!  Thank you to Global Explorers for helping extend the library’s reach to these new communities. 

Music in the Schools Program

 
Our music program has expanded!  CONAPAC received a donation of 3 violins and a viola in April,  and as luck would have it, our fabulous music teacher, Angel Paz is also a talented violinist.  He has begun teaching a few sessions of violin lessons, staying an additional day in the jungle each week.  The choir just completed their second concert, during the community of Palmeras’ 25th anniversary celebration, accompanied by the guitar students and a flute student as well.   We are busy making arrangements for the final concert in Iquitos in December.  We hope to be able to continue this wonderful program in 2012!
  
Water Treatment Systems

By the end of 2011, both library branches will have mini-water treatment systems installed by CONAPAC to provide purified drinking water.  Thank you to the Fremont Michigan Rotary club for donating one of the water systems.  CONAPAC will conduct workshops at both libraries to teach about the importance of drinking clean water, as well as the maintenance and use of the systems.  We have been bringing bottled water to drink to the main branch, and Sapo Playa has been without drinking water.  Now, we will be able to treat water directly from the river and from our rain catchment system to drink.  We are also hoping to be able to install a rain catchment system in Sapo Playa for the dry months when the closest water is a half hour walk away.  We are also looking into the possibility of building ecological latrines at the Sapo Playa branch.


Field Trips


 
In September and October students from both library branches visited Iquitos.  In September, 18 primary school students traveled to Iquitos for the day, visiting the ACOBIA Manatee Reserve and the Quistococha Zoo.  Student fed baby manatees, they explored other Amazonian species at the zoo, and ended the day swimming in the Quistococha Lake.  In October, 9 high school students visited Iquitos for an overnight field trip.  Thank you to Carlos Acosta of the Hotel Acosta for donating two rooms for our students to stay in.  We visited the Iquitos School of Music, UNAP (the National University of the Peruvian Amazon), and SENATI (a national technical training school), and went to the movies that night. 
Jeyson and Robinho Feeding Manatees
Internet Class

Thanks to Explorama Lodge we are now able to offer internet classes to our advanced computing students! Once a week we walk to the Lodge with our laptops for class.  We started with the basics and have worked our way up to Facebook.  On Facebook the students have connected with students in the States who will be visiting Peru in 2012, not only giving them an opportunity to explore the technology, but also to practice their English! 




2012 Wishlist

In addition to our yearly operating costs including salaries and library maintenance, these are some projects we are interested in for 2012. If anyone would like to fund one of these projects, please contact me directly at mkthomas25@gmail.com. Please remember that your donations are very important to continuing all of the library’s programs. Donations can be sent to the Detroit Zoo c/o Claire Lannoye at 8540 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067, be sure to indicate that your donation is for the CCC Amazon Library.

2012 Projects At a Glance:
  •   Scholarships
  • A second mini water treatment system
  •  Rain catchment system for drinking water in Sapo Playa 
  • Ecological Latrines in Sapo Playa 
  • An outoor classroom maloca (gazebo) for the main branch

 Scholarships:  In 2012 we hope to be able to offer 3 scholarships for students who wish to continue their education in Iquitos.  We already have three great candidates from Yanamono and Palmeras.  Jhan Berty Saboya is from the community of Yanamono and has been coming to the library since he was a little boy, now he is 17 years old and getting ready to graduate.  Jhan Berty has expressed an interest in continuing to study English, a seed that Nancy planted long ago, and he would also like to study to be an electrician at Iquitos’ technical school, SENATI.  Jamileth Santana is 18 years old and from the community of Palmeras.  After growing up near the Clinica Yanamono, run by Dr. Linea Smith, Jamileth dreams of becoming a nurse and returning to Palmeras to work at the clinic.  Dr. Smith has shown a lot of support for Jamileth and is very excited at the possibility of having her return to help carry out the clinic’s mission.  Ariana Perez Hoyos is from the community of Yanamono.  She is 17 years old and would like to study English and Tourism.  Ariana is a very bright student and has been coming to the library for many years, often lending a hand with day to day activities.  Her cheerful and friendly personality is contagious, a trait that will take her far in tourism.

¿Maloca?:  In 2012 we are considering building a maloca, or thatched gazebo in the library’s yard.  The maloca would serve as great additional classroom space.  Currently, we use the teacher/volunteer house for all special classes, however, we also have two teachers living there most of the week!  The space available in the house is limited, and with the tin roof, it gets very hot in there! We would use the maloca for English class, choir practice, art and science activities, and of course reading too. 


Many Thanks!

Thank you to our beloved volunteer Sue Melvin, from Leicester England.  Sue was with us at the library for about two months, for the second year in row.  She was a huge help to me personally as I had various commitments that kept me from the library during the months she was here.  Thanks Sue, we hope to see you next year!

Thank you to Pam Bucur de Arevalo of Explorama Tours and Global Explorers for giving one of our students, 14 year old Andrea Asipali, the opportunity to participate in a Global Explorers student workshop.  Andrea spent the week with students from Houston, Texas and Dr. Phil Wittman, exploring the rainforest and making new friends.  Andrea would like to be a naturalist guide in the future, this was a great chance for her to see what being a guide is all about!





Fall in Peru (Well, Spring Really)

October was a busy month! I started the month with a quick trip to Lima to visit the immigrations office one last time.  After signing a few papers, waiting in line, taking a photo, and waiting some more, I became a resident of Peru!  It was actually a long process that involved a lawyer in Iquitos and one in Lima, as well as a previous visit to Lima to go to Interpol for fingerprints and dental records.  I now have my own Peruvian ID card that allows me to do just about anything a Peruvian can, but most importantly it allows me to stay in the country for five years and it allows me to be paid!  So, in October I celebrated my new residency, one year in Peru, and my first paycheck from CONAPAC!  My first year here flew by, I can hardly believe that I have been here that long, at the same time, those first months at Marcos’ house seem like they were ages ago!  

My Residency Card!

In October we took another field trip to Iquitos with students from the library, this time with high school students, overnight.  We arrived on a Friday and spent the day visiting different educational institutions in Iquitos. We went to Iquitos’ School of Music, to the Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana, and to a technical school called Senati.  In the evening we went to the movies and then went out for dinner.  

At the School of Music

The students stayed at a hotel near my house, a man who owns a different jungle lodge near the library donated 2 rooms in a hotel he owns in the city.  In the morning the students walked to my house for breakfast, spent an hour at an internet cafĂ©, and finished the morning swimming at a local pool before heading home. It was a lot of fun, I think the kids enjoyed seeing where I live in the city, and of course going to the movies, the school visits went well too, but they weren’t all that exciting!

Breakfast at My House

Also in October, the community across the creek from the Lodge, Palmeras, celebrated their 25 year anniversary.  They had a lot of special activities including a concert with the library's choir and their annual "Miss Palmeras" beauty pageant, where I was a judge!  It was a little weird to be judging a beauty pageant but it was very special to me that the community invited me to participate. 


The Library's Choir


The Miss Palmeras Contestants

We celebrated Halloween at the library, complete with a pumpkin brought especially for us all the way from Lima!  The kids had never celebrated Halloween, and they had never seen a pumpkin!  I read a book about pumpkins, passed out candy, including ghost suckers, we carved the pumpkin and watched King Kong.  We were going to watch E.T. however, of the 2 copies we have, one was only in English and French, and the other, a pirated copy, didn’t work!  I did show them a trick-or-treat scene from E.T. to give them a better idea of what Halloween is like. I really enjoyed our celebration, although I forgot the candy corn that my mom sent!  Not to worry, we ate it later!

Ghost Suckers!
With our Pumpkin!


November started a little rocky for me, I was sick for about 4 days, nothing serious, just parasites, but still miserable.  I got to spend a few hours in a clinic in Iquitos with attached to an IV. Luckily the clinic is right across the street from Explorama’s office so I had a few visitors!

This past weekend was the library’s annual spelling competition.  Fernando, the library’s administrator, handled all of the arrangements since he has helped prepare for the competition for many years. We had students from 8 communities compete, from elementary and high school.  In total we had about 170 participants (students plus a few teachers and parents from each community).  In the morning the students took a written spelling test to qualify for the oral spelling competition in the afternoon, and they also competed in an essay contest.  It was a great day, not raining but not too hot either.  People from all over came to watch the competition, setting up camp in the library’s yard, hanging their hammocks in trees and under the library, selling popsicles and other food and drinks too.  We had cash prizes for the winners and prizes for their teachers as well.  All of the students who qualified for the afternoon’s competition also received books as prizes.  It was fun watching my students compete, luckily I was not a judge, I definitely wanted my kids to win!  My students did pretty well, the winner was one of the students who has been coming to the library for many years.  

Getting Ready to Start the Competition
"Hanging Out" Under the Library
Betania, She came to watch her brothers compete!
The Final 3! Andrea, (the one with the braid) took 1st Place!

This week I have been busy helping out with a large group of middle school students from Lima.  I am helping them with some activities at the Lodge as well as their service projects.  Next week begins CONAPAC’s annual end of the year evaluations, where we will visit all of the 57 communities CONAPAC works with over 2 weeks.  I will be spending Thanksgiving at Explornapo Lodge, no turkey for me this year!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Life At Explorama Lodge

As I mentioned before, during the week I live at Explorama Lodge and in Iquitos on the weekends.  While I do enjoy my weekends in the city, I love living at the Lodge.  It is a magical place to be.  The staff there have become like family. Especially my sweet little baby, Pirata!  He was born at Explornapo in January and moved to the Lodge in March.  His name means pirate, one of the guides named him that because of the patch over his eye.  We quickly bonded and have been inseparable ever since. He comes to the library with me and everywhere else. He makes feel terrible every time I leave for the city, crying as they hold him back from the boat, sometimes swimming after me or running along the bank until I am gone! He has a little bed in my room, and keeps me protected at night, (although I think he was supposed to be a guard dog for the whole lodge, not just me!).  He is probably the most spoiled dog in the entire Amazon!  

(Pirata is the one in the corner with the spot on his head)

When I Arrived at the Lodge in April

Pirata's First Canoe Ride

Early Morning Birding with my Global Explorers Group

Happy Dog
 The Lodge is home to another dog, Tello. He used to be quite independent although now that he has been recently neutered, he also stays by my side and sleeps in my room! 

Getting Ready for Bed
We also have macaws and parrots that like to swoop into the kitchen while we wash dishes to eat scraps.  

A Parrot Enjoying a Hard Boiled Egg

The staff at the Lodge is wonderful.  They joke that I am the princess of the Amazon, but that is how they treat me.  The cook knows that I don’t like fish, so he always makes me something else when fish is on the menu (which is a lot!).  They are also a lot of fun to be around.  They take me with them when they go to Palmeras, (the community across the river) to play soccer in the afternoons and even to go dancing sometimes.  

Some of the Guys

It’s been wonderful to get to know the people from the community too, especially since I spend so much time with their children!  I also have Dr. Linnea Smith’s clinic to take care of me, and Dr. Linnea herself when she is in country. 

Another perk of living at the Lodge is all of the people I get to meet from around the world.  In April I got to go out and study dolphins with a US couple that has been coming here for years to study pink river dolphins.  I am going to hopefully work with a herpetologist from the Detroit Zoo in October on a project with students in a community on the Napo River, recording frog data.  We have had a volunteer from England working at the library for the past two months and I just gave a tour of our library to a woman who works at a library at the University of Melbourne.

I still have moments nearly every day where I pause in disbelief that I actually live here.  It happens when I pass the beautiful scarlet macaws on my way to breakfast each day, or listening to frogs at night after it rains, spotting a boa in the roof of the dining room, seeing a blue morpho butterfly fly past, watching a troop of monkeys eat bananas, or catching a glimpse of the stars at night.  It happens every day on my commute to work, whether on foot or by boat, when it dawns on me that this is my life, on the Amazon. 

Amazon Morning

Field Trip!

This past weekend we had our annual field trip to Iquitos with students from the library.  The field trip was for students under 12 who had come to the library the most throughout the year.  We took 18 children from the jungle to Iquitos to visit the ACOBIA manatee reserve and the Quistococha Zoo.  The zoo also has a beach, so after lunch we played in the water until it was time to go.  I had a wonderful time, and I think the kids did too!!  Next month we have our field trip to Iquitos with the teenagers of the library, hopefully it will go as smoothly as this trip.  The only casualty we had was my camera!

Meeting the Manatees
Feeding the Baby Manatees

Petting the Manatees

The Kids with an Anaconda

Playing on a Vine

Getting Ready to go in the Water!

Sandra

Playing with the Kids

Rivaldo

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Catching Up!


Good news- the reason I have not written anything since April is because I have been super busy and incredibly happy!  A lot has happened in the past 5 months!  I can’t believe it has been that long since I moved to Explorama Lodge, it doesn’t seem possible.  I think the best way to catch up is one month at a time.

Abril

In April I headed to Explorama Lodge to help Dr. Nancy Dunn at the CCC Amazon Library as she prepared to move back to the States.  She had decided to leave the library to CONAPAC, (it was an independent non-profit organization before). Basically I was there to learn the ropes.  The library is open Monday-Thursday in the afternoon (the kids are in school in the mornings).  So everyday I worked with Nancy in the mornings, either at her house or in the library and spent the afternoons at the library with the kids.  I spent a week there in January, however when I was there it was closed for inventory, so I finally got to spend time with the kids!  

Waiting for the library to open!

The students come to the library after school to read.  They ready silently for the first 20 minutes or so and then we read out loud in groups.  The last hour of the day the kids can play games and do puzzles.  The library has almost 4,000 different titles, from children’s books to encyclopedias and everything in between.  There is no library like this in all of Loreto (the department of Peru we are in).  The library lends books to students over the weekend, which is unheard of in Peruvian libraries.  Nancy told me that there is a saying in Peru: “It is foolish to lend a book, but more foolish to give it back!”  The library has many special programs, like scholarships for higher education, field trips to places like the zoo in Iquitos and Explorama’s Canopy Walkway, computer classes, English classes and a music program.  There is a teacher from Iquitos who comes each week for 3 days to teach music in the schools in the mornings and to direct a children’s choir, teach guitar lessons and violin lessons in the afternoons. Again, there is nothing else that compares to this music program in the jungle, and something like it would be very rare even in the city.  In mid April Nancy left for a three week vacation, leaving me in control, kind of my test run.  

Choir practice


Mayo

In May we tried to do a different special activity each week at the library.  First, we experimented making toothpaste with baking soda, salt, and mint extract.   It was fun but kind of gross, all of the kids agreed that we needed more mint! We had a bunch of toothbrushes that we donated so each student took home a ziplock back of toothpaste and a new toothbrush.  Next we made Mother’s Day cards; they were all very sweet and very covered in glitter!  

Priscilla with her card for her mom

 Our last activity in May was making ice cream in ziplock bags.  It was a huge mess but so much fun.  The kids loved having a cold treat!  Also throughout May we were preparing for Nancy’s goodbye party.  The kids learned a song to sing to Nancy and they each made a page for an album to give to her.   Throughout April and May the Amazon River is on the rise.  It floods annually in these months, and this was my first time here to see it.  I will have to post a separate blog entry to show the difference between high and low water, it was amazing.  After a while the water rose too high to reach the library on foot, so each day someone from the Lodge would take me in a boat to the library, picking up students on the way.  It was like our own little school bus, the kids would be waiting at someone’s house for the boat to pull up to the front steps.  Each day, one of my favorite students, Ronal, would make sure to sit next to me.  At the end of May Nancy came back and I left for the States.

On our way home!

Junio

For the month of June I was back in Michigan.  I had a great visit.  The first week I was home I was able to talk to my mom’s next Fremont Rainforest group.  They are not coming here until June 2012, but they have already begun to prepare.  I also helped out with their bake sale, I baked enough cookies and pies to make up for almost a year with no oven!  A highlight of my time at home was spending time with my best friend Hillary and her beautiful new baby Colbie. 
Colbie!
Hillary and her husband were trying to adopt when I left in October, of course after a long wait, they were matched and had their new baby just one month after I left!  I was very anxious meet Colbie- she is adorable and may be the happiest baby ever!  I got to spend time with Hillary and Colbie in Fremont as well as at their home in Madison, WI.  I also got to stop for a way too brief visit with my friend Dena and her baby Gannon.  Gannon was courteous enough to be born right before I left, so this was the second time I got to meet him.  He is super cute too! 

Gannon!

I also visited with my grandma in Decatur, IL along with my uncles (on my mom’s side).  Of course I spent as much time as I could with Faye, Owen, and Ryann, my nieces and nephew.  We got crafty and made patio stones and birdhouses! 

Owen and Faye

patio stones

I also was able to spend a little time with my brother Brian and his wife Jamie, and my brother Tim and his girlfriend Coco.  Of course I spent some quality time with my parents too! 

Julio

When I returned to Peru it was now time for Nancy to leave.  Her goodbye party was while I was gone, I hear it was a success.  Her last day at the library was bittersweet.  She surprised me with a cake to welcome me as the new library director, it made me cry.  It was a little overwhelming, it had been my dream to live here since I was 17, and now it was happening for real! 


It was very exciting but at the same time it was heartbreaking to be there as Nancy said goodbye after building this library from nothing 13 years ago.  It is amazing to think of all of the lives she’s touched, and how lucky I am that I get to continue the work that she started.  So, now it’s official, I am the director of the Amazon Library Project!  Well, not totally official, I still don’t have my Peruvian work visa, but I almost do!  My mom came to visit for 10 days in July.  We spent time at the library, we spent time at Ceiba Tops luxury lodge, relaxing by the pool, we visited a community on the Napo River, and we went to Monkey Island, to the manatee reserve, and the butterfly garden and animal orphanage.   

Mom with a red uakari

We also visited Las Malvinas, the school I work with in Iquitos.  It was great to show my mom where I live and introduce her to my wonderful friends here. 

Agosto

Most of the month of August I spent with two Global Explorers groups as their expedition leader.  My first group was from Houston and my second group from New York City.  They were part of a special program sponsored by AFAR travel magazine, the students all had to write articles and take photos to create their own magazine, it was a really neat project.  I always enjoy working with student groups, I love their excitement as they experience the Amazon for the first time.  Every trip is different, I always get to see new things.  This time, we saw a mother and baby 2-toed sloth while on the canopy walkway.  I have never seen a 2-toed sloth in the wild, just 3-toed sloths.  At first they were just hanging on a branch, kind of hard to see, but then they moved to another tree, crossing on a branch out in the open air.  It was a National Geographic worthy moment, it was breathtaking, they were beautiful.  

2-toed sloths

 I traveled to Lima with both of my groups to make sure their flights went smoothly.  My first trip to Lima I went a little crazy grocery shopping, they have so many things there that they don’t carry in Iquitos! My second trip to Lima I went with my lawyer to Interpol to get finger printed, photographed, and to have my teeth examined in order to get my visa!  I will have to go back to Lima one more time to go to the immigration office, but it sounds like it will take a little time for all of my paperwork to go through before that.  Then I will have my visa and be able to stay here! After returning from Lima I had a few days in Iquitos.  I still come to Iquitos on the weekends to check in at Las Malvinas, work in the office a little, and to do laundry.  In July, everyone else moved out of my house!  I was pretty excited about this, except they took Tony the cat with them.  She was very sweet so I was sad to see her go.  I was thinking I’d just not have a cat there, but with the open kitchen I really need a cat to control the rats.  So, I just welcomed 2 new kittens to my home!  I adopted them from Amazon Cares, an awesome non-profit in Iquitos.  Their names are Shungo and Moshaco.  I got their names from a dictionary of local words that Nancy left me.  Shungo is the local word for heart, and Moshaco is the local word for womanizer.  Their sister also is here with us for a little while, she belongs to my friend Cliver, we just haven’t been in the city at the same time for him to pick her up to bring her home. 

Shungo, Moshaco, and Chiquita

Now that my groups are finished, I am just focusing on the library.  We have some field trips coming up, I am going to start teaching English, and we are installing mini water treatment plants in both libraries (did I mention there is a 2nd library in a community about 20 minutes away?!).  I’ll also help out with other CONAPAC projects here and there, like end of the year community evaluations.