Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Been a Great Summer!


The 2012 student travel season kicked off in June here at Explorama.  We started with a group of 90 people, mostly students, from Indiana.  Our next group was the most important one, well to me anyways!  June 14 my mom’s Fremont Rainforest group arrived with 17 kids, my mom, and Rachel (a teacher leader/my mom’s substitute daughter).  It had been almost a year since I had seen my mom, so needless to say I was looking forward to their trip.  They arrived extremely tired after over 24 hours traveling, but we still hit the ground running!  We spent 6 nights in the jungle and one night in Iquitos.  Overall they were a wonderful group.  We saw a lot of wildlife, had a great service project painting a school that had been flooded, and had a wonderful afternoon interacting with my students at the library.  Cliver was one of our guides so it was a great opportunity for my mom to get to know him a little better.  (She did meet him last year but only briefly).  It was hard to say goodbye again but now I have my October trip to Michigan to look forward to!  I worked with another Global Explorer’s group in July, they were another great group of students!  

Mom and I at the Library

Cliver, Mom and I Enjoying the Amazon Mud!

Mom Stealing a Ride with Cliver


Also in July, we started a construction project at the library.  We disassembled a building that used to be used for our library sewing co-op, and moved it to our main branch.  The new building is about finished, plus a new porch on the library.  We also had a canoe made for the library, although now the water in the small river is so low that we can walk across on a log!  I have been spending a lot of time at the library cataloging the new books we received from groups this summer, mostly donated by an awesome organization, REACH 4 Books.  Its kind of a tedious process, but putting the new books on the shelves is a great feeling!

Our New Addition and New Porch
Pirata in our New Canoe


I am happy to share that last week Cliver asked me to be his wife, and that we will be getting married in October in Michigan!  We couldn’t be happier, Cliver is a wonderful man and I am so glad that I get to spend my life with him!  It is going to be a bit of a challenge planning a wedding in MI from Peru, but luckily I have a great family and wonderful friends helping get it all together!  We also plan to get married in Peru, but we have not set a date for the big event here, one wedding at a time! October has been a good month for me the past few years.  October 2010 – moved to Peru. October 2011 – I became a Peruvian resident and officially employed by CONAPAC.  And now, October 2012 – I get to marry Cliver!  Who knows what’s in store for October 2013… 

Cliver and I in the Canopy

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Land Ho!

Well, after historic flooding in the Amazon, the water has started to recede.  I arrived at the library after the weekend to find land again!  Well, sort of….

As you can see everything is covered in THICK mud!  The kids were all schlepping through in order to get to a huito tree and eat huito fruits.  

On the way home the kids made a paper hat for Tello.  I think they are all relieved to see some land, they know that soon they will be able to play outside again!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


It’s hard to believe it’s almost May, and even harder to believe I haven’t written a single word on my blog all year!  Fortunately things have been going extremely well, and the lack of blog posts is mostly due to being busy.    


At the library we started the year with a complete inventory at both branches, closing the libraries for the first couple of weeks.  Once we finished we opened for full days until the school year started in March.  (Normally we are only open in the afternoons since the kids have school in the morning).  It was a lot of fun, mostly we played games and had special activities in the mornings and our usual reading activities in the afternoons.  I think my favorite activity was cooking with the kids. We read the book “Stone Soup” together and then made our own soup.  All of the kids brought something to add, and I brought carrots, celery, and chicken.  Most of the kids had never tried celery before, and some didn’t believe me that you could eat carrots without cooking them! (Neither of them grow locally).  We even had stones for the soup, which were brought by friends from the Seattle area since we do not have rocks in this part of the Amazon!  It was so much fun cooking with the kids, I think they really enjoyed it too.  I found alphabet pasta in Iquitos so the kids all spelled their names in the soup!  I’ll post my latest library newsletter for other library updates. 

Sopa de Piedra


School started in mid March but in many communities the schools had to close by April because of seasonal flooding.  This is very unusual for this time of year.  Typically the river rises in April, peaks in May, and starts to go back down again, with schools closing for a week or two in May. This year the river was way above average in January, and approaching record highs by March.  By the end of March the river passed all recorded levels.  It has been amazing to watch the river rise.  At first it was exciting to see how far it would go, but once it broke the records it started to get scary.  The people here know it is going to flood every year, so they have built their houses up high, using the last record as a guide as to how high.  But this year the flooding was more than anyone prepared for.  In the villages people have been continuously raising their floors or moving to higher ground.  Many people have lost all of their crops and all of their farm animals.  It is not uncommon to see a house with a floor raised so high there is no room to stand, with a balsa raft tied to the house full of chickens!  I still pick up the kids to go to the library in the afternoon, one boy we pick up from his 2nd story window! We had to close our smaller branch for the time being because it is underwater.

On our way to the library!

In the city families have had to relocate, some moving in with other relatives, but many with no place to go.  The government declared a state of emergency and closed public schools so that people could seek refuge there, and they have set up tents for temporary housing.  They estimate that over 80,000 people have been displaced because of the flooding.  Some houses aren’t flooded but they are still in trouble because the sewer systems are maxed out, you can’t put anything down the drain, no showering, no toilet, nothing.  Fortunately the house where I stay in Iquitos has not been affected.  The bar at the Lodge is underwater, and the dining room was too for about a week, however the staff hasn’t missed a beat and has been adjusting and adapting each day to keep the Lodge fully functioning and to keep the guests comfortable and happy!  It appears that the river has started to drop a little, but with the early start and the record breaking levels, it is hard to predict when things will go back to normal.  

The library with 22 cm from the floor to the water.

Flooding in Iquitos


 I just finished a little over week of Adopt A School deliveries.  Conapac’s main program is Adopt A School, we provide school supplies for interested communities near Explorama’s lodges, and in return the communities make a commitment to their children’s education and quality of life by making sure their kids go to school everyday (no staying home to harvest rice!) and by participating in community projects like fish farms and community gardens that benefit everyone.  Once a year we have a group of volunteers come for a week to deliver the supplies to all of the schools.  This year was my first year participating, and a new challenge due to the high water.  Many communities that are totally flooded had to travel to other communities on high ground to receive their supplies.   Some had to meet us in the water to pick up their supplies on the Amazon Queen, Explorama’s big river boat.  It was a great experience, I got to visit some communities I had never been to as well as get to know some great volunteers (many from Michigan!).  Despite the flooding and the very difficult circumstances in most communities, we had a great turn out which really demonstrated how much the people value this program.  This week is the second week of the program, more volunteers have arrived to build a water plant in one of our communities, and we will also have a service project at the library this weekend.



Like I said, things are going extremely well here, I am very happy.  I have been working at the library for a year now and enjoying every minute of it.  Cliver and I have been together for over eight months, we are having a great time together.  I recently had the chance to meet his family, they are very warm and friendly and extremely welcoming.  Cliver is coming to Michigan with me for a couple of weeks in October, he has been to the States many times, but never to MI.  I will be there the entire month.   I am getting anxious to go since it has almost been a year since I last visited.    When ever I Skype with Faye, Owen, and Ryann, they never fail to make me feel like a terrible aunt for living so far away! (They also make me feel very loved and missed).  My mom will be here in just over a month with her students, unfortunately only for about a week.  I will be working with her group with Global Explorers and one or two other Global Explorers groups this summer.  I will try to be a better blogger but it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down any time soon!

Cliver and I

Tree climbing (before the flood)
Andres didn't have a paddle so he hitched a ride with us!

My sweet boys!