06 Jun Welcome to the jungle: Peru Amazon Adventure Checks in
“I get knocked down, but i get up again! You never gonna keep me down! I get knocked down, but I get up again! You never gonna keep me down!” It;s 3:15pm and the Chumbawamba 90’s hit is blaring on the radio as our taxi barrels down the road. Backpacking is full of ups and downs (metaphorical and physical) but when you’ve got a good crew around you, any problem becomes an opportunity; any boat deck a dance floor!
It seems ages ago now that we started this journey in Lima, taking Spanish classes, touring the city on bicycles, and salsa dancing on pizza street. In class in the morning, Morgan had us beat, but at night on the dance floor, Natalie schooled us silly with her groovy grooves.
Our favorite Lima meal may have been lunch near the market at a chaotic little menu del dia. Our server, an older Peruvian woman, refused to believe everyone didn’t speak Spanish, neglected to bring the dishes to a choice few of us, and really didn’t seem to like any of us at all… The next day she lamented our absence when we opted for a restaurant next door– “Mañana aqui, no!?” ( Tomorrow, you’re coming here, right?!) I guess she… missed us?
The next day we boarded the 28 hour bus ride to Tarapoto. Telling ghost stories and watching apocalyptic movies in Spanish passed the time quickly enough. We got into Yurimaguas late the following night, where we relished the horizont-ility of our beds, and savored their flatness. The next four nights we spent in hammocks, on the ferry, or lancha, that would take us to Iquitos.
By the time the lancha was ready to leave the port, it was packed! During our voyage down the Amazon River, time swirled and blended in the muddy vortex of sleepy day/nights, where we were never really sure how long we’d been there or how much longer we had to go. We spent our time in Peula land, talking privilege and oppression, the danger of a single story, and playing a Sendero Luminoso themed mafia game that featured epic scheming, fair weathered alliances, and unfounded accusations. Dan was always Sendero Luminoso, Ginny was DYNAMIC and Melissa made a mean narrator.
Iquitos, a city of 400,000 people in the middle of the jungle, is indeed a crazy, magical place to drop into! Moto taxis zooming around the streets, women selling pineapple and aguaje fruits on the corner, and a jungle heat that is broken by a rain shower every afternoon. Amazon Adventure has come together as the super ultra archie mega team that it is!! Whether it is Steve-o as the ad hoc Accountant, Andrew as the Morale booster or Rachel as the General Manager, everyone has stepped up to take a leadership role for the team.
This weekend we returned home from three days at el Chino, learning about life in the jungle village and exploring the surrounding amazon! This small village has become an example of sustainable agriculture and eco-tourism for the entire region! We put on our our wellies and went on walks through the jungle: looking for monkeys, poison arrow frogs, and learning about the medical and non-medical uses of plants in the area. We slept in hammocks, had delicious traditional jungle eats from the family we stayed with (the best Peruvian food yet!), and met a tarantula!
Now that the team is back in Iquitos they will begin their first project with KALLPA Iquitos. Getting their hands dirty with a local garden and mural project, they will be working to strengthen the youth group movement and action in an all-but-forgotten (by the government at least) community on the outskirts of the city where OG has worked for the past two years!
More updates to come!