Hola from Peru!
We have had 6 very busy and adventure filled days!
Our journey began for some of us in Newark with Katie and for others in Florida but when we all finally met, we knew this was going to be a fantastic trip.
Lima was our first stop. When we landed at the airport, we were met by Natasha and Mat (the two other Westcoast Connection staff members) as well as our Peruvian guide Jonathan. The next morning we all started to get to know each other better, right away we could see a family forming!
In the afternoon, we were given a tour of old Lima. We were lucky to be there on a national holiday and a very important soccer game, Peru was in the semi finals in Cupa America. This meant that the streets were filled with Peruvian pride and excitement.
On our tour, we stopped at the San Francisco of Assisi basilica. It was a beautiful church built in the 16th century. We took a tour and then headed under the church to check out the catacombs. The catacombs were quite creepy but so cool to see! After the city tour, we were able to watch the game while eating dinner. It was a close game but unfortunately Peru did not win.
We then headed off to our next location; THE AMAZON! Once we arrived, we were greeted by our Amazonian guides Luis and Ivan with an Amazon snack of fresh bananas, banana chips and brazil nuts. We hopped on to a boat and rode to the jungle. Our boat ride included spotting two capybaras and a baby caiman (a reptile very similar to a crocodile). Upon arriving at our Amazon lodge, we were welcomed by fresh juice and cool wet towels. We had some time to explore our lodge and see some of the cool features such as the hammocks in the rooms and the lobbies. The rooms themselves were traditional and open; allowing us to have a full Amazon experience. The lodge was made with the help of the local native community, since they helped to build the rooms as well as many of the decorations. The majority of the profits go straight towards the native community which allow them to better their lives and their facilities.
We had lots of time to discover the Amazon. We went on a catamaran ride on Oxbow lake and saw many different animals such as caimen, a giant river otter, and many different types of birds such as parrots and macaws. After boating around the lake, we stopped and fished for piranhas. Alec caught the first fish which turned out to be a sardine. Emily A. was the first to catch a piranha. Every trip member got a turn and whether they caught a fish or not they enjoyed themselves! In the afternoon, we had our first community service job to complete; reforestation.
Our task was to plant trees near a newly created fish farm. The fish farm had been created for the native community, in order to use the fish as food or for sale. However, when they built the fish farm they needed to tear down the forest in the area. The trees we planted will help to rebuild the ecosystem that had been lost and will help stop erosion. We planted 50 trees! After a delicious dinner, we went for a night walk and had the chance to see many bugs and frogs that we cannot find in North America.
Our last full day in the Amazon was also spent doing a service project. We woke up early in the morning and went for hike. We hiked to a canopy high tower which overlooked the Amazon and the nearby river. We arrived just in time to watch the sunrise over the canopy. After our hike, we ate breakfast and headed to the local community. We painted a school which all of the local children attend. We were able to do it in record time and even had time to play with a few of the local children. It was amazing to see what we could accomplish in a few hours.
Our Amazon journey unfortunately had to come to an end and we headed to a nearby town named Puerto Maldonado. We are only here for two days and have a new community service project working with animals.
The Westcoast Blogger