Nueva Betania

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November 5th 2005
Published: November 6th 2005
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River UcayaliRiver UcayaliRiver Ucayali

The entrance to the village
We´re back in Pucallpa for a few days after our first week in the jungle. The community we stayed in is set in the middle of nowhere about 100 km up the river Ucayali from Pucallpa. Around 400 people live in wooden huts/houses with virtually no contact with the external world. Most of them have only seen a few "white people" in their whole life so we’re getting plenty of attention, especially from the kids. The only source of water is the river, which is far from clean, so we´ll probably be coming back often for water supplies. There is a generator that can provide a small amount of electricity when needed (if there’s any fuel to burn) but that’s about the only luxury they’ve got. Most of the "houses" are simply wooden floors elevated off the ground, with a roof made out of leaves. So far we haven´t headed too far into the jungle for safety reasons, but the outskirts give an insight of what´s to come. Pineapples, mangos, bananas, coconuts and lots of unknown varieties of fruit can be found everywhere, as well as loads of strange plants and trees. We haven´t seen much animal life form so far
Boat tripBoat tripBoat trip

The boat trip down the Ucayali
as they only come out at night. Yesterday we got a glimpse of a tarantula before it hid under the house we´re staying in..... whereas deadly snakes are said to patrol the village after dark. The funny (and at the same time petrifying) thing is that the toilets (=a hole) are at the end of a 20m trail that heads into the jungle and therefore using them at night is simply put “life-threatening”..... Our main purpose here is to try and improve the standard of living of the inhabitants. The community obviously can´t afford to hire professional engineers so they looked for volunteer students as an alternative. We´re gonna try and do as much as possible with the few resources we have, but it looks like the main benefit we´ll be bringing them will be English lessons. For the moment Pierre and I are both giving a 2 hour lesson every day. Pierre teaches to the kids, while I teach to the mothers on one day and the fathers on the other. Most of them speak Spanish but the older ones only speak the local dialect (shipibo, which is the main language there), and considering that my own Spanish is
Boat trip 2Boat trip 2Boat trip 2

Nice and cosy
far from perfect, the lessons have been quite an experience. The best moment of the day is at 4pm when the 3 or 4 main families (yes they are very, very big families) of the community gather in the middle of the village. The younger men play football, while the wives watch and chat and the children play music and dance. It’s quite simply unforgettable. After that, everybody heads to the river and take a dip before the mosquitoes arrive. There's so much to tell and not much time to spend on internet, so please forgive me for not going into much detail. I should publish some more news in a week’s time...

Additional photos below
Photos: 8, Displayed: 8


A warm welcomeA warm welcome
A warm welcome

Send ideas of translations by post
a housea house
a house

First night in the jungle

The main road of the village. Populated by chickens at day, snakes at night.

Once the game is over, everybody runs to safety to avoid the mosquitos
Football 2Football 2
Football 2

In the background, you can see the "classroom" where I teach English

8th November 2005

Graeme, you perv! Taking a picture of 2 ladies' behinds and saying nice and cosy! I would never have expected that from you! Peru looks like Msia!! The plants, climate and even the huts (well, not in the city, obviously)! Don't you have walls for your hut? You and your football! Bet the kids whoop ur ass all the time. Why don't you teach them some kumite?
8th November 2005

Graeme! I didn't know you were going to South America! I'm afraid I kept deleting your emails not knowing what they were, but Frances kindly informed me. Peru sounds fantastic - I can't think of anything more exciting to do with engineering skills! Photos look great too - beautiful weather (England is about to have its coldest winter for fifty years or something - argh!). Hope you're still enjoying it - Keep posting. P.S. Random question but I swear I saw you (or someone very like you) at LSE around the beginning of term, but figured it couldn't possibly have been so didn't say anything - was I wrong?!
9th June 2007

Just got back from Peru. I was in that villiage!! Betania. Any idea what the coordinates are?? Trying to find it on Google Earth... Thanks a ton!
1st July 2007

dont think theres enough detail on that region on google earth. I remember trying to find it. What did you do there? How was it? Graeme

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