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PERU | Friday, 14 May 2010 | Views [526]

Choose your weapon, IBC photo

Choose your weapon, IBC photo

We haven't updated the journal in a while simply because nothing has happened lately.  We are still in the noisy, crowded and dirty city of Pucallpa.  It is literally at the end of the road - for now.  From here it's all river travel, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean if you are so inclined.  Someday soon they will build a road to the Brazilian border to connect with theirs that runs through the Amazon basin.  It's too bad because that's just one more nail in the Amazon's coffin.

Our job with Instituto del Bien Comun is less than we had hoped.  The boss doesn't seem to care that we are there, there is no work space for us and the project is pretty much a busy work thing.  Once we downloaded their photos (13,000) onto our computer we worked pretty much from our hotel room.  It's spacious and air-conditioned.  We finished our work today, or rather Connie did.  Only one person at a time can use the computer – thank goodness we brought our laptop because they don't have one and they have no photo software – so my job has been running errands.  The photos we have been working with are depressing, too.  Not the quality, although they basically suck, but the degradation of the forest they show.  One estimate we read predicts that only 15% of the Amazon rain forest will survive until 2040!  The culprits are illegal logging and "legal" logging concessions, unchecked petroleum exploration and the attendant spills, mining concessions and over fishing.  The indigenous people who live in the Amazon aren't helping.  They use the river as their own personal garbage dump, something we have seen across Peru, even in prosperous towns and cities.  It's like the US before the Litter-Bug campaigns when we were kids - "Give a hoot, don't pollute".  The hard thing about volunteering isn't so much the work, it's keeping up your spirits.  Sometimes it seems so futile.   You do what you can but wonder if you are accomplishing anything.

We have met some nice people at IBC and our Nature Conservancy contact is wonderful.  The only real excitement we had was visiting the Shipibo village of Patria Nueva last weekend and that was with a totally different organization, Pronaturaleza, not IBC.  My mosquito bites have almost stopped itching!

So we gave our notice today (the pay wasn't that good, anyhow!) and bought one-way plane tickets to Iquitos, deeper into the Amazon. Iquitos is the largest city in the world (400,000+) not accessible by road, the Juneau of South America.  We considered the 3 to 5 day boat trip up the Ucayali, factored in the bad food, heat and mosquitoes and decided $95 was a fair price to pay for the flight.  


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