We started out this workday right—we spotted a sloth high in the trees on the way to the clinic site and watched him slowly climb down for a few minutes. Luckily, our pace was a lot quicker and we ended up clearing almost all of the dirt left in the ground for leveling. Devon, Edwin, and Teo were present at the site to speed the work along and bring some Latin spice with a playlist of Peruvian tunes.
We later returned to Madre Selva to relax before lunch and talk about some of our favorite authors, when I heard someone say, “Mira, mira!” behind me. I turned around right as one of the crewmembers was near my face holding an anaconda. Despite his unhappiness, people took turns letting him wrap his body around their arms before he was released. The day ended gloriously! I finally saw the small black monkeys in the wild and I hadn’t seen them the entire time. My Amazon experience is complete!
It’s the final week and we’ve started it with excitement! The evening consisted of a boat tour led by Cesar. We saw frogs and nighthawks, had a fish jump into the boat and hit Cesar’s neck, and watched him climb a tree to retrieve a boa. Overall I would say it was a very wildlife-filled day.
Our next morning began when a Cayman was thrust towards my face before breakfast. We held him for a while and let him hang around the common area before we released him into the fishpond on the premises. Kelsey and I then went to Comandancia in the morning to conduct a final survey with the president’s wife, asking her about her experience. We then got a tour of the town, received instructions from an elderly woman on how to chop a log that would later be used as a five-foot piece of a raft, and then experienced a “minga” with a group of drummers and dancers.
Saturday we spent the morning gathering items to give away, while we packed the rest and anxiously awaited Jimdevon’s 1st birthday and our departure the following day. Sunday we attended a final meeting in Santo Tomas about the clinic and the future of the project. We heard final opinions and said our goodbyes to the people we’d been working with for nearly two months—some acquaintances, some prominent members of the community, and others people we’ll never forget.
The boat ride back was virtually problem-free aside from our driver having to physically move an entire floating island of lily pads with the boat. We knew we’d experience culture shock after being away from ‘civilization’ for almost two months, but we were thankful to be back in the city of Iquitos.
The next few days were filled with going to the markets to see things like local art, woodworking products, and open food sections. We also took the free time to reminisce on our experience. Despite any minor setbacks that occurred, or partial feelings of isolation resulting in jungle fever, there’s absolutely nothing I would trade this experience for. The people we met and the communities we’ve continually interacted with only strengthen the decision to continue with the clinic and future collaboration with Project Amazonas.
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