Equipped with mosquito nets, over 50 diarrhea pills, enough clothes and toiletries for about two months of stay, and advice from just about everyone I know, I left town Sunday for Yantalo, Peru.
People usually react in one of three ways when you tell them you’ll be living in the jungle: 1. A look of horror may overcome their face. 2. They spit out advice that you will never use. 3. They are excited and ask several questions that you cannot answer.
The former happened with a fellow I dated briefly before I left, “I’m contemplating buying a ticket just to make sure you arrive safely,” he told me.
After a short panic attack, I declined.
Luckily, two of my good friends and former roommates met me at the Lima airport. Asleep on a chair, it was hour 14 (with about 10 left to go) of my travels when I was greeted by their familiar faces.
Annah had called a couple hours before my flight left from Chicago, “Did you bring your bathing suit?” she asked. “When the kids are off school, it’s nice to go swimming. There are two pools at our hotel.”
Two pools? I was confused. But my preparation philosophy had been to ask minimal questions.
“It’s in my bag. See you in Lima!” I responded.
We arrived in Tarapoto at about 3 p.m. September 3. From there, we took a two-hour cab ride to the Amazon Jungle. Very few vehicles here actually have seat belts. These Peruvians drive like maniacs—and honk just as much as we do in L.A.! It’s a bit scary!
Nevertheless, my hotel in Moyobamba is fabulous. Hot water. Electricity. And two pools overlooking the Andes. Let's just say most of what I brought was unnecessary. ... At least for now.
The cicadas are so loud though, I can't hear myself think. BUT: Not one mosquito bite yet! Knock on wood.
I’ll be volunteering 10 miles away in Yantalo, which is very different than Moyobamba. One restaurant. Sparse running water. Some electricity. It just got its first paved road. The plan is to live with a family there for the latter part of my stay. Only $2 per night. But quite the change in scenery.
Tomorrow I’ll start teaching computer classes in Yantalo—Photoshop, Excel, etc.—to 5th graders. Also, there is interest in adult aerobics. Pretty soon, we’ll be jamming out to Lady Gaga in the jungle!
Check out my attached photos, and stay tuned for more on the community and my travels! Adios!