Along the Yarapa
I've thought of Peru everyday since I've returned to the States. I tell my father every time I see him that I have never been as happy as I was in Peru. The thought of writing my experience is overwhelming in that everything was so new, so alive, so different, so wonderful. Beginning is not an easy task.
I was introduced to Amazon Promise through Abigail. We talked on the phone and in person about her experiences. One thing she said sticks with me now more than ever is that returning home can be painfully hard. I am so appreciative for everything I have. It is amazing to watch people make use of everything around them, to survive and smile with practically nothing.
I was so nervous my first day. Despite having talked to Abigail several times, I still felt as though I just didn't know what to expect. Everyone was so great. Another girl, Lindsay, and I met on the trip and became instant friends. I even persuaded her to stay a week after the trip and travel to Cusco and Machu Picchu with me after or two weeks in the jungle. (Which, as a side note, is absolutely worth it.) Together, we came to the decision that the very nature of the work being done at Amazon Promise attracts good people. Every person on the trip reflected that. After two weeks in the jungle, these strangers become family. Further, I felt extremely safe with those one the expedition. We were there to help the villagers, but I always felt that the health and safety of the volunteers was priority.
I also had no idea what to expect in the clinic. I am fresh out of college and am on my way to medical school, which of course means I don't have medical training. I was so worried I was going to be getting in the way of the real work. Yet, there was not a time where I felt I couldn't be of some use. In the clinic, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Alex and Javier. Both were excellent doctors with two different approaches to their patients. Rotating between them gave me an excellent chance to learn about typical complaints and not-so-typical ones. There were crazy nights where we left our tents to treat an old man who had just been bitten by a poisonous snake or a mother who came to us for help delivering her baby. One woman returned multiple times for treatment of mastitis. Then there are the masses of patients seen in clinic for various parasites and dehydration. I was particularly intrigued to see a case of leishmaniasis. This protozoan is something I studied extensively in school, but never thought I would actually see.
I was amazed by the camping site as well. We had a roof over our heads - and a tent - as well as running water and toilets. I didn't expect any of the above. The surroundings are breathless. Everything is so alive. The thick, green jungle hides a myriad of animals who work together to create constant music. The boat rides are so intensely calming. Above you watch birds fly by or call from their perch. Below are pink dolphins and flying fish. It's a feeling of life that is inexplicable.