Off to the Amazon!
But…there is only one Amazon and this Friday I’m off to check it out! It’s hard to imagine just how expansive the Amazon is…but there is 1/5 of the world’s fresh water in the Amazon basin. The river is so big at some points you can’t see the other side. It’s the most biodiverse spot on the planet with all kinds of stuff we still don’t know about…including native tribes of humans. Six countries share the Amazon...though they treat their parts differently.
Peru’s jungle is about 50% of its landmass with 5% of the population, and has some of the best preserved areas of rainforest in the world. To get to the launching off point, I have to travel by bus for about 28 hours, assuming the rain won't be bad. I’ll be traveling 9 hours over night, then waiting 8 hours to catch another bus for 17 hours. After that, I’ll arrive in Tarapoto, a town on the edge of the Andes and the jungle, on the outskirts of the really crazy stuff. From there, traveling with 5 friends, we’ll head to a town farther in the jungle on road and from that town, we’ll take a boat even farther in the jungle. I’ll then be spending 5 days canoeing through the largest jungle reserve in Peru, famous for pink and grey dolphins, all kinds of birds, amphibians, and reptiles, monkeys, whacky but delicious fish (including piranhas), and all kinds of other stuff. Maybe I'll get lucky and spot a jaguar or anaconda. In the Amazon you can't pee in the water if you're swimming because there are things that will swim up your urethra...
After those 5 days, we’ll be catching a banana cargo boat and we’ll float down the Amazon River for 3 days, sleeping in hammocks, to a town called Iquitos, the largest city in the world that doesn’t have a connecting road – only by river or air can you reach it. We’ll spend some time there, and then fly back to Lima and back to site (muchas gracias to mom and dad for buying my plane ticket from Iquitos to Lima!).
Once I’m back I’ll be sure to put up a bunch of pictures and stories. With the group I’m going with we’re bound to have some interesting things happen…stay tuned. Also, I've been growing a big, hippy Peace Corps beard for the past couple months...so you might not recognize me in the photos when I get back. I can't wait to shave it off...so I'm glad the trip has finally arrived.
Here are a few recent pictures:
- This kid told me my name is not Jake but Gringo.
- Yes…that’s a huge steel knife that is longer than her head and she’s 3 years old and her mom is right next to her. When I was 3, I got toy cars. Like whoa…
- The night of the election, most of the volunteers came into Huaraz to watch the election. My shirt was given to me by my friend, John Dundon when he visited back in June. I don't really wear it (sorry john) because I don't like walking around with some dude's face on my chest...especially when he hasn't proven himself yet to be the president I want. But, for this night, it was appropriate. GianCarlos is holding a shot of Pisco.
- Virginia voted for Obama! My friends bought me a tequila shot to celebrate.
- After the announcement that Barrack won, we went to party and we all took turns wearing the Obama shirt. We danced like idiots until 2:30am. So, while I certainly missed the parties and atmosphere back home...we made our own.
- When walking through the streets, we already receive a lot of attention...this night most just stopped whatever they were doing, mouths open and watched...and of course, we played it up. Yup, that's a police car in the background.