Peru: Precon Edition

Queridos damas y caballeros,

Welcome to the first edition of Operation Groundswell Peru 2011! It is with great excitement that we share our stories of one month of travel through mountains, jungles, deserts and even a jump across the Equator.

As fearless leaders, Laura and Jonah began the adventure in the 2800 metre altitude of Quito, Ecuador. Being the second highest capital city in the world, our sea-level living bodies took a little bit of time to adjust. But as the tough travelers that we are, we took on the challenge of a long bus ride the next day to visit the Mitad del Mundo (“middle of the world”). Jonah felt giddy to finally travel south of the equator after experiencing 40+ countries.

After a few days in Quito and the coast, it was off to the jungles of Peru. Our travel was difficult to say the least…and if you don’t believe us, check Google Maps.

  • Left Montañita, Ecuador on Saturday at 3 pm
  • Arrived in Guayaquil at 6 pm, left on an overnight bus at 9 pm
  • Arrived in Piura, Peru at 7 am, went to a clinic because Jonah had a fever
  • Took a bus at 12:30 pm for Chiclayo, arrived in Chiclayo at 4 pm
  • Took an overnight bus at 7 pm, arrived in Tarapoto at 10 am,
  • Took a car to Yurimaguas and arrived at 12:30 pm
  • Went to the ferry, sat on the ferry most of the day as cows, 50kg bags of sugar and so much more were being added to the ferry, found out the ferry wasn´t leaving till the next day at 8 pm
  • Got a hostel room, Jonah had another fever
  • Came back to the boat the next morning, finally left the port at 2 pm, spent 3 days on the ferry, Jonah didn’t have any fevers, we slept in hammocks and arrived at 4 pm in Iquitos, the capital of the Amazon in Peru.

Over 100 hours on buses, cars and ferries. No more fever, just the jungle variety I suppose.

Our time in Iquitos was memorable for so many reasons. Setting up incredible projects with our amazing partners was first and foremost. Working with Asociación Kallpa,  we visited El Porvenir, a barrio which essentially is one long street housing 700 people in 120 families. Our plan is to create a playground for children and youth, paint murals and beautify the community, conduct intercultural language exchange classes and organize a garbage cleanup day. After spending 12 days with Kallpa, we are excited to announce our partnership with Colective Verde and Asociación Mayantú. An organization created and led by university students in and around Iquitos, we will be venturing deep into the Amazon jungle to build a water tank and give out a community medical kit to an isolated community. Built into the program is not only the physical construction but workshops on educating the community about proper use and best practices for maintaining the tank as well. In addition, the group will enjoy a cultural night, jungle walks looking for sloths, monkeys, snakes and lots of birds, a day to swim in the Amazon and search for the elusive pink river dolphins and much more.

But enough about the Amazon, time for Pisco and the incredible organization known as Pisco Sin Fronteras (PSF). To truly understanding how amazing PSF’s work is, please watch this video and I can promise that your heart will melt.

Click here for the PSF video:

PSF was created immediately following the devastation of the Aug 2007 earthquake. Much of the town of Pisco, Peru was destroyed and even now, many families live in little more than wood and tarp-covered houses. Our participants will work on a variety of projects including modular home building which takes recycled wood from shipping palettes and re-purposes them for homes, a biodiesel conversion project, social development work with abused widows, earthbag construction, football academy, English classes and so much more. All in all, our time with PSF should be exciting, inspiring and incredibly important to both the people of Pisco and our participants.

Well, it seems time to wrap up as we’ve got to run to dinner and you’re probably bored of all our adventures. Rest assured though, Peru Disaster Relief and Amazon Adventure will be incredible experiences. We eagerly await the arrival of our participants on May 11th.

Until then,

Laura and Jonah