Just as we sat down to dinner last night, the rain started up. Abelardo said if it was just a small bit, we might get outside; otherwise, it would be too slippery. Before long, it really started to pour, so our evening tour, which I know includes tarantulas and snakes, didn't happen. We ducked out as the show started which we'd already seen.
Today we were to go to the Yague Indians' village, then to the rum factory. But we ended up being connected with an OAT group of 12 or 14 and the family of 6 we came in with (the dad is a doctor and they've lived here for 15 months, but are now headed back home to Mississippi), so we first stopped at a clinic OAT helps sponsor. The clinic was started by a female doctor from Wisconsin who came here 20 years ago on vacation and saw a need for medical care. She was able to get sponsors to build the clinic, which has continued to grow. They have both medical and dental facilities there. Whitney said it's similar to the one her husband worked in in Trujillo.
We then walked to the Explorama lodge where they have the shared toilets and showers and rooms with mosquito netting over the beds. They're actually putting in some private bathrooms for some of the rooms. We walked over to the village and had an explanation of the tribal customs and how the younger generation are leaving for the city to get better jobs. They have been exposed to Tv and the Internet, which has caused this change. They no longer want to wear the native costumes, etc. Then the group performed for us, then asked us to join them, so many of us danced around with a tribe member. It was inside a large thatched hut which was very hot, so by the end of the dance, I had steam coming off me. We were then invited outside for a demonstration of the blow gun and several people tried it, including Matthew (who already has one at home).
Each person had a little section set up with their wares, mostly bracelets and necklaces made from the local seeds and dyed fish scales, woven baskets, carved objects, etc. Nothing that I found really exciting, but we did buy a few things. We brought pens and pencils, I had some beads, though no one wanted to trade for them, and Matthew had a pair of Tevas he wanted to leave behind, so did trade for them. At the end, we handed out pens and pencils to the kids, then the adults came to get some too. I also gave always the beads I brought. One of the older women came over and gave me a bracelet as a thank you. We enjoyed this very much and did it after the rest of our group headed back to the lodge, so it wasn't a show.
Lunch was the usual buffet—the food has been very good and healthy. Everything is grown locally. Right now watermelon and papayas abound, which has been a delight. Today they served fresh red beets at lunch—yum. They also had beef (probably water buffalo) stir-fried with potatoes and onions, rice, yucca in french fry shape, beans, cabbage salad, and bread pudding and watermelon for dessert. This is no place for a low-carb diet!
After lunch we had another siesta time in the hammocks, then headed over to the rum plantation. On the way, I saw a tarantula walking along, so stopped to point it out and let the kids see it. I was proud of myself—no screaming or anything. We also saw the water buffalo along the way.
The rum grower has a small operation where he makes both rum and molasses using a very old machine that's horse-driven while the sugar cane is manually fed into it. We went into the house for the sampling of 4 different types of rum...none of which I could stand. I only tasted two of them since Matthew had tried the clear straight one at the bar one night. It's ghastly—takes like rubbing alcohol, only stronger. They had one with molasses added to it, which was a little better, but not much.
We returned here to our lovely air-conditioning around 3:30. Now we're getting the clothes ready to leave behind. I asked Abelardo if someone in his village could use the clothes I'm leaving, and he said he's been saving what people leave every year for the past 3 years, then his wife cleans them and at Christmas, he gives them out to people. I'm so glad I asked! This is perfect....and I'm giving him 2 shirts, 1 tank top, 2 pairs of pants and a pair of shoes! Oh and one very well worn and used white jacket! Matthew has a pair of zip-off pants and some shoes. Feels good to lighten the load....
Tomorrow we head to Iquitos, then to Lima for our first flight. We stay overnight at the Ramada, which is right next to the airport, then walk over the next morning at some ungodly hour for our 7 am departure. The family with the 4 kids will be leaving with us—those kids are adorable and so well behaved. Whitney says they're sorry to be leaving now and could have easily stayed another 6 months. They have a home in Miss. waiting for them, and the kids can return to school after being home-schooled in Peru. Their ages range from 10 to 4, so she's been a busy mom.
All in all, it's been a good trip, though hectic and sometimes difficult. I prefer trips where we have a home base and aren't in and out of suitcases so much. One night, I was totally disoriented, I couldn't remember the configuration of the room, so had to find a light in the bathroom to know where they'd put the toilet!
As always, I'm happy to come home to my kitties!