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Village Service Project

July 11, 2011
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Today’s bloggers: Rachel, Bob, Robert, Betsy, and James

Today’s adventures began at dawn just as the sun peaked over the horizon illuminating the mighty Amazon River. We enjoyed looking for birds during a boat ride that took us down the Napo River and through the swamps branching off the river. The keen eyes of our guides and crew located many birds familiar to us as well as some new, exotic species.

Frank and Carly ready to dig latrines

Frank and Carly ready to dig latrines

After breakfast we departed for the village of Islalyon. On the way, we passed a floating school bus (boat) stuffed to capacity with children. When we arrived, we met with the kids and teachers of the community along with the children from the school bus. We took turns sharing about ourselves and belting out songs.

During our visit, torrential rains poured down from the sky that had been clear just minutes before. Despite the rain, the children started a muddy soccer game. With shouts and calls for passes in the background, we set about painting the school a deep blue and digging a latrine out back. The school was in need of a latrine because, before today, it had never had any sort of toilet (other than the jungle).

Lunch was a boxed affair of tamales wrapped in palm leaves, fresh fruit, dried plantain chips, mango juice and Peruvian chocolate cookies for dessert.

After lunch we had a house visit with a young woman who graciously answered all of our questions (of which there were a lot) via a translator. Then some of the braver members of the group struck up a soccer game with the local children. Our only advantage was the size of our team (we outnumbered them)… still they made fools of us.

Rachel blowing bubbles with kids

Rachel blowing bubbles with kids

The little kids, none of whom looked older than 13, maneuvered easily in between our legs. A six-year-old clad in a red shirt put us all to shame! The other team had a three-foot-tall goalie who was a viper at blocking shots. When the ball did roll over the edge of the bank into the water, a little boy did not hesitate to plunge in after it and emerged dripping, holding the ball triumphantly. Others from our group, not so keen on mud and sweat, watched and talked with the locals. Liz whipped out a few bottles of bubbles, which were a big hit with the little kids.

At the end of our visit, we danced to flute and drums around a Walking Palm tree that had been erected next to the gazebo. We took turns hacking at the trunk with an ax and it was felled in the field. Us “gringos” rushed to the woven leaves decorated with fruit for a treat and many us were splashed unexpectedly. Some of us boarded the boat sopping. Before departing, we exchanged our appreciation with the people. The whole experience was truly an honor.

On the way home, we passed a water treatment plant. It costs about $6000 for the system to provide clean water for a community. The Conapac Foundation is working tirelessly to insure that all communities along the river are provided with clean water.

Upon our return to the lodge most of us took the opportunity to shower before enjoying a delicious meal.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Sonja permalink
    July 12, 2011 8:31 am

    What a fantastic adventure! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us!

  2. Terry Linehan permalink
    July 12, 2011 8:41 am

    Your adventures sound amazing!! Please pass a message along to Karen Linehan. No one is available to pick her up at the airport in Raleigh. Can she please find a ride? Annie is very sorry about this. Wade is out of town. Thank you.

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 13, 2011 8:35 am

      Hi Terry
      Message received and we have it all squared away.

  3. Tom Earnhardt permalink
    July 12, 2011 1:34 pm

    With Raleigh approaching 101 degrees today, and a heat index of 110, most of North Carolina is housebound. Your adventures give us us a glimpse into a world that is almost beyond imagination: the descriptions of extraordinary animals, plants, and people have brightened each day. It is only through the example set by intrepid explorers like you that Raleigh’s (and American’s) worst invasive plant–the “couch potato”–will be reduced in number. Thanks for your words and inspiration! Three cheers, Tom Earnhardt

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 13, 2011 8:40 am

      Thank you Tom
      We have been anything but couch potatoes! We are getting ready to head back out for our last adventure before getting on the plane this afternoon. With that heat index maybe we just want to stay here!

  4. Cooper Carter permalink
    July 12, 2011 3:44 pm

    Can you please pass a message to Carly Albee to contact me if she is able. I hope y’all are having a great adventure.

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 13, 2011 8:37 am

      Hi Cooper
      Congratulations on your engagement!

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