Last days in the Selva

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August 10th 2010
Published: August 10th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

So, let me first apologize my my slacker efforts, or lack there of, about keeping my blog updated. If it´s any consolation my journal has been suffering as well. I should also note that despite the ramshackle hospital experience the amoebas appear to be long gone and I have been feeling great since my ER fiasco.

When I got back from the hospital we had 5 new volunteers in Arutam which was a nice change. The food actually improved a bit- they started serving sides with our daily yucca! 😊 The weather was also rainy my first days back so thankfully I didn´t need to work much or feel guilty about laying around when everyone else was working. The next morning Timoteo, one of the Vargas (Shuar) brothers and town medicine man, made me some tea to help with the parastie, too. I can´t be sure if it was the meds or the tea, but I felt great ever since. We had some easy days of ´work´that involved a lot of nice hikes while holding machetes and not doing a whole lot and misc. stuff around the town and houses.

On Wed. we had the weekly family dinner which was much better than my first week´s. Because there were then 15 of us, we had to have dinner at the comedor where we usually eat as Ernesto´s house wasn´t big enough for both the family and us. Afterwards we had a fiesta in the school complete with Shuar music and dancing. The music sounds the same but the songs apparently have different words. Dancing is great for the men but quite boring for the women. We get to do the ´bunny hop´where you basically hop from side to side while them men get to dance up a storm. It was still a lot of fun and amusing to see all the gringos attempt to dance! A few cervezas later and the music switched to 90s pop (a club favorite here) and didn´t end until about 1:30.

As you would expect, the next day had an easy work load as half the volunteers and the Shuar guys were hungover. Byron, one of the 15 yr old brothers decided it would be a good idea to finish the leftover alcohol at 8 am and was stumbling, falling, and trying to sleep in the jungle while we were collecting plants. It was a bit amusing initially but got old quite quickily. The rest of the week was our usual work and on Friday I headed off to Tena with 4 of the other girls.

After a mass of people storming the bus to Tena (quite literally, some were jumping in through the windows! Never saw anything like it before) we got on, got seats, and ate some delicious fried chicken during the ride. I really wish the States had street vendors of the quality they do here, yum! After a morning ice cream, we decided to wander around town Saturday and came upon a great park/zoo on an island in the middle of town. They had a cuchuchu, caimen, anacondas, pythons, 3 types of monkeys, pigs, and a porcupine. We also got to swim at a nice beach on the river and were the only people in the park, aside from out guide. Not a bad way to spend $2! It was a bit crazy, though, when Egle (volunteer friend) was getting a photo with a caged monkey who grabbed her arm, she screamed, and a free monkey ran up and actually bit her in the arm! It wasn´t a bad bite but she said it hurt a lot. Apparently monkeys do not enjoy screaming and it will provoke attack, in case you were wondering.

We spent the afternoon walking around the rest of town, discovering the most delicious ice cream place with nearly unlimited toppings, checking out some local graffiti art, and just eating entirely too much food. We tended to go a little overboard when we got out of the jungle and were left to fend for ourselves!

Sunday was a fantastic whitewater rafting trip with our hostel. We had a crazy oh-my-gato guide who really made it awesome! He did his best to ensure we were all soaked for the majority of the time and flipped/threw us out of the raft repeatedly. Good times! We headed back around 7 with another mad bus ride (maybe it´s a Tena thing?) and I was on my last string by then end of it. Thankfully the people have since redemed themselves and all is well. Three more volunteers had arrived when we returned.

The week was pretty consistent with previous ones with the exception of hauling some really heavy wood abour 2k to construct the house of Jaime´s second wife. After we finished carrying the wood, we were able to speak briefly to Carmalina (sister) about the women´s perspective of polygamy and that aspect of culture. As you would expect, the women are not fond of it and many of the women (including Carmalina) have told their husbands they cannot have another wife unless they get a second husband. I just hope they stick to that 10 years down the road! It sounds like the moms are civil with eachother, but likely get jealous of the other. She said her mom never really talked about it though. I wish I could have been able to talk more with the women, but Henrique always seemed to get mad when we wanted to see what their life was like. One of my gripes about the project.

On Wed. there was some confusion on when I was supposed to leave/how long I paid for because I wrote the wrong date when I arrived. Though we worked it out, it got me thinking that I could leave a day early and have one more day on the coast. I decided to do it, as I felt like I had got about everything I was going to out of my work and let them know Wed. night at family dinner. We had the fiesta again but most people weren´t dancing as much and it was over much earlier than the previous week.

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