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 café, 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!
|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!