July 2, 2017 by Amanda Colón, International Director
¡Bienvenidos a Iquitos! Our first group of the summer arrived today, a bit jet-lagged, but excited. After a short drive through the city, students enjoyed some Peruvian Chinese food, a culinary fusion typical to the country. Students laughed and chatted over Inca Kola before taking a stroll to the Amazon flood plain, near our hotel. Local and international staff look forward to sharing this beautiful country and culture with these amazing students!
July 3rd– by Veda Surapaneni
Our second day in Iquitos started off with a brief visit to a local museum that had once been the governers house. Half an hour later, we were walking through the Belen market, trying to take in the busy atmosphere around us. Everywhere we looked there were colours, noises, smells and street vendors shouting about their goods. The amount of variety was amazing. Just south of the market, was a poor area built on stilts on top of the river. Beneath the village, was a mass of rubbish polluting the lake, to the point where the ground and water could not be seen. This sight showed us that the locals where not aware of how to manage waste, and of the danger that the ecosystem was in.
Next up was the Manatee Rescue centre, where we saw sick and injured animals from the jungle in rehabilition. After seeing the adorable manatees, otters, osalots, monkeys and alligator babies we headed off to lunch.
In the afternoon we were given free time to do some shopping along the main boulevard. Our first full day in Iquitos was jam packed and gave us a massive insight into the local culture.
July 4th– by Savie
Yesterday was the first day heading to the amazon and it was riveting because we first started off the day by seeing all the various life forms around us then took a beautiful boat ride to Don’s home and our base. We swam through the estanque as well as hiked through the jungle for the first time and it was magical.
July 5th– by Hannah
Our first full day being on the Santa Cruz Reserve was an exiciting one. We walked and took a short boat ride to the local school. The language barrier between us and the students was tough, but we connected with them through scoccer. When we made it back to the base camp, we had our daily swim in the river to cool off from the jungle heat. We also explored new trails to prepare us for our over night hike. I am excited to see what the rest of our trip has in store for us.
July 6th– by Gillian
We visited the school for teacher day and some of the kids sang and danced for their teacherz. Later, we danced for them and went into a conga line. It was super fun and I was smiling the entire. It rained really hard when we were inside, so when we played soccer it was all muddy and everyone was slipping and it was super entertaining. After lunch we had some free time and chilled. Then before dinner we went on a night hike and searched for some animals. We didn’t see much, but it was super cool to walk in the jungle at night. It was a different perspective. We could see stars which was pretty awesome.
July 7th– by Eva
Today in the Amazon jungle, we visited a man who is very important in the culture along the river. This shaman, like a medicine man, showed us how to make a potion that is known all around the world as a physical and spiritual cleanser. He showed us plants that they use in their medicines and as food. After spending the day at his house, we hiked back to home base to discuss what we had thought of the experience and played some activities that let us learn about ourselves.
July 8– by Tash
Today we hiked down to Don’s house to do reforeststion. This included filling bags with compost for seedlings, creating holes for trees, sorting out plants and plabting trees. The jobs were a lot of work but they were a fulfilling experience. After a delicious barbeque lunch we arranged into three teams. In our teams we had to make rafts using just wood and rope and race across the river and back. One team floated downstrean, another team got caught in the mangroves and completed the race after a stressful experience and the 3rd team won and was able to complete the race successfully. We left Don’s house later in the day and returned to the smell of fresh laundry at home base.
July 9– by Sarah
Today we headed to Don’s for reforestation to do the same things as yesterday. Then we headed back to home base for health checks and lunch. After lunch we had several hours of free time, where we played in the water and played volleyball. After cleaning ourselved up we learned about Peruvian culture from Luis and Diego, members of the local team.
Incorporating games into English lessons at a local school.
We arrived back in Iquitos yesterday after a whirlwind ten days! Santa Cruz seems far away now with all the traffic and bustle of the city.
Over the past week, we taught English in the primary and secondary schools. During recess, the little kids would spill out of their classrooms ready to play soccer with us. In the afternoons, we hiked, swam in the estanque, and played volleyball. Our local guide took us fishing one afternoon and several of us caught piranhas which we ate at dinner that night.
Before leaving Santa Cruz, we did a long hike towards the river and camped overnight in the jungle. Our cook, Felix, showed us how to prepare Juane, a rice dish wrapped in banana leaves, which we carried with us to eat in the evening. It was a beautiful and exhausting night. The next day, we returned to the school to say our goodbyes.
We can’t believe the program has come to an end. We will always remember the hikes to the river, boat trips down the Amazon, kayaking with local kids, laughing and chatting in our cabins at night, delicious Peruvian food, and the wonderful community that welcomed us so warmly.