The Amazon & The Beach
It has been so so long since I last wrote that I´ll appologise in advance for not being able to do all the things we´ve done justice. So much has happened since I last wrote about Cotopaxi, Otovalo and Quito, I can barely remember. Bullet points might come out at somepoint. I´m a bit hungover today after arguably the best night out as of yet last night. There was a fiesta on the beach for the town. Giant speakers, dancers on a stage and the whole town was salsaing on the beach. We swam, got up on stage momentarily (before being shunned off) to dance infront of the population of Puerto Lopez and generally had an amazing night. Suffering today though.
So... quick and terrible recap of the past couple of weeks...
Tena: 2 Weeks working on the Book Bus in the Amazon
- We headed to Tena, a town in the heart of the Amazon for 2 weeks and volunteered on the Book Bus. The bus is so cool (I´ll try to upload a stolen photo - new camera is the worst thing I´ve ever seen so don´t have my own) it´s illustrated by Quentin Blake no less and has tables and what not. Anyways we took the bus to village schools and read to the children (in dodgy Spanish) to try to get them interested in books. We´d then do an activity with them like getting them to draw their favourite character from the book we´d read (if they could understand it!) or get them to use random plants in a collage. Normally, if we had energy, we´d play with them for a while and get uber sweaty in the intense heat. Was fun and rewarding but so, so tiring too. After the first couple of days when we put loadsa energy into the playing part, we all made a pact to calm it down to save us from complete exhaustion.
- In the afternoons we either went back to school to teach English (which to be honest was a complete failure), had a free afternoon to skype and sunbathe or went on a little excursion. We spent a couple of afternoons swimming in the Amazon with kids or without and marvalling at the nature around us. We went to a couple of nature reserves and saw ossolots (like a mini lepord), parrots, monkeys, snakes - urgh - turtles and cool stuff. Around some of the towns there are wild monkeys just chilling out, stealing food and playing all over the place. Unfortunately there are also snakes all over the place too and kids holding them. I freaked out a bit, Emily too but the rest of the group held giant boas round their necks and smiled as if this was completely normal.... Another afternoon we got a tour of the jungly part with a local guy and he made me into an Amazon Princess with a dress made entirely of natural planty twiggy things. A pretty good look.... He showed us loads of other stuff and we were amazed at all of the things he could do with single leaves and what not. Unfortunately I was bit ill and didn´t get to see everything but sounds like it was awesome.
- Best day so far has probably been the middle Saturday in Tena when we went rafting. We spent the whole day in the boats with a quick stop for lunch and games, going down rapids, singing songs and pushing eachother in. Our boat had such a laugh, our guy leader person was so chilled out (you knew you had to paddle hard if he started screaming FORWRD which he did do a couple of times) though Emily and I did despair at the amount of songs the boys and Matilda sang from disney or high school musical. We tried to introduce rap but were outnumbered. I feel out in the rapids which was momentarily really scarey and could have so easily been avoided if Darren had bothered to turn around, but it turned out to be pretty fun bobbing around in the waves.
- The nightlife in Tena was a little disapointing. We found one bar called The Spider where we chilled out a couple of nights. Usually just 4 us as the rest like to spread out their levels of fun. I´ve now been labeled Party Girl Number 1 and Matilda´s Number 2 because we´re constantly trying to pursuade people to go out and always manage to make it to the end. There was a carnival in Tena on the last day we were there which reminded me so much of Wem carny I was momentarily home sick. The parade was similar (with better dancers & no fat baton twirlers) and we stayed watching for like 2 hours, even when the heavens opened and it rained on us and the dancers in that amazing tropical heavy rain way. That night there was a sort of party and the population of Tena came out for what seemed like the first time. We ended up having a hostel party and tried to stay up until 6am when the bus was leaving the next day and failed only by 1 hour. Matilda was especially "merry" and became mysterious girl on her mysterious chair. The group is really good because we´ve all brought with us our different drinking games and so the nights last ages as we have to get through all the games!
- We´ve been cooking ourselves for the past 3 weeks which has a) made me fat and b) been such good fun. The first week I cooked with Matilda which turned out to be so stressful when the power cut, we bought cabbage instead of lettuce, our meal was 45 mins late and basically raw and we had to go out to drown our sorrows afterwards. Cooked with Daryl the next week and had a complete opposite experience. We were so chilled out and made a couple of reasonably yummy meals. Everyone makes incredible puddings though and my short body can´t cope so the pounds are piling on.... Plus the hair is uncontrolable in the humidity and I look like a short fatty with an afro.
There´s probably loads more to say about Tena and venture co-ers if you can think of anything I´ve missed let me know and I´ll add it in or you can just write it in a comment for all to see.
Volunteer Phase 2: Puerto Lopez - coastal town
- We´re now in Puerto Lopez, a town right on the beach. We´re staying in a purpose built house which is really cool but our room is so cramped. Packing is going to be a nightmare. Sharing with Matilda, Amanda and Emily and all of our stuff in spread across the minimal floor spacing. It´s quite terrible! But the house is cool, we have started to paint it and put our hand prints on the walls (like in the attic at home) so it´s looking gurd!
- The projects have been fairly random actually. I usually volunteer to continue with the book bus in the mornings and then help out with the more manual stuff in the afternoons. So far we´ve painted a library, paved a path with gravel in the national park and cleared a museum garden. Quite an odd mix really. When we were path paving we found a sulphur (smelly) lagoon and took a break swimming and covering ourselves with mud. Was a good laugh and there is photographic evidence somewhere.
- In any free time we´ve been basically just relaxing on the beach and trying to improve the tans. We werea bit worried when we first arrived because it was raining non stop but it cleared up later in the week and now weve got epic sunshine and tanning opportunities. The first day we swam quite far out and a couple of us got stung by jelly fish which was freaky. Felt like being electrocuted so have been a bit scared to properly swim again.
- We did however go skinny dipping the other night which was the funniest thing so far. We stripped off and legged it into the sea in the pitch black and could barely talk for laughing so much. We were very impressed that the boys actually agreed to do it because they´ve never done anything like it in Singapore where even wearing a bikini is a wierd thing to do in public.
All in all the trip is going amazingly. We´re all getting on so well and it´s so interesting because the diversity in the group is pretty amazing so everyday we find different things to marvel at. Emily, who´s American, is constantly amazed at some of our expressions and we are at the boys and their Singaporian slang. We´ve all been to different types of schools and have different ways of life and what not. The schools that Matilda, Dora and Kate went to are so different to good old Adams they boarded, had crazy uniforms and had to go to chapel every week and do prayers and hymns and stuff every day and they had prep and stuff too. and curfews. crazy stuff... So interesting to discuss though.
Right I´ve been on here way too long and am missing out on the sun. Tomorrow we are headed to a little island to do more work which should be interesting as apparently there is like only 1 building and not much to do. But should be cool to just chill out and be forced not to communicate.
Tis all for now... I´ll try to write again a bit sooner next time. muchos love x