I feel like I'm falling behind!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess it's a good thing because my life is so full of new experiences that I can't possibly begin to relate them all here. But its a tad bit frustrating to play catch up everytime I open my blog. Maybe just maybe I'll get in the habbit of blogging a little more often. Anyway, I have three big adventures to write about and about a million and one other little things that I would love to describe but don't have time to do so. I'll start with an example adventure from Iquitos. I truly had all the good intentions to write about each day or atleast the most exciting things that happened over there but there is no way that's going to happen now. So I'll give you a taste of my experience in the jungle and you will just have to come visit me in Peru to hear more :)
On Friday (day 7 of the Jungle adventure) we got up without a real plan for the day. We had explored pretty much all of the standard tourist sites and were ready to step a little outside the box. Rosy and Edwin were working so our only limitations were the distances we could travel with motortaxi and/or riverboat (basically everywhere in a 4 hour radius of Iquitos) While we were eatting breakfast with Luz I brought down a scrap of paper with a list of things to do in Iquitos. We had done a little bit of research on the internet before we left Lima... We started quizing Luz on the places from my list and even though she hadn't been to the majority of them, she had heard something of each one. We finally agreed on Playa Santa Clara and decided to leave around 12 so each of us could spent the morning doing something different. Luz hurried with all house work so she could go out with us and my mom did some laudry and dyed her hair. I decided to go on a running adventure to the Plaza de Armas. The Plaza de Armas exists in every town or city and always has the municipalidad on one side and the church on the other. It is the central plaza where everyone goes at night and generally in the middle of downtown as well. It's about two miles from their house and the entire route has interesting things to see. It's definitely not a route you take to really get in shape though; the whole time is stop, go, dodge a flipped over motor taxi, jump over a dog sun bathing on the sidewalk etc... Plus Iquitos is really really hot so I was running slowly to begin with. Anyway, I made my way from the Plaza de Armas to the bank to take out money, and then got distracted by the stores along Prospero. Prospero is the main comercial street and has a ton of stores with clothes for ridiculously cheap prices!!! I'm actually a little embarrased by the number of shirts, tanktops, shorts and dresses I bought during my stay in Iquitos. But, when you can buy a GAP shirts for 5 soles (less than 2 bucks) its rather difficult to resist! haha So I ran back home with my new treasures and got caught by the RAIN! The wind blew, the motorcycles disappeared from the streets and within 30 seconds I was soaked. It is one of the best feelings in the world to run up a muddy street/river with rain pouring off your skin and the sound of water pelting down all around. I got to the house, took a quick shower and we all piled into Luz's son's motortaxi to explore Santa Clara.
It was a beautiful drive with fresh air smelling of rain and green trees on all sides but I was very glad to arrive when we did... 40 minutes is a long time to bounce along a dirt road full of potholes and splash through giant puddles. There were honestly a few times when I thought we wouldn´t make it out of the mud! Plus, motortaxi's only fit 3 people across so I got to sit with the 30 kg Gonzalo on my lap. Needless to say it felt very good to stretch my legs. We walked all around the little town and a very generous lady let us use the bathroom in her house. I was extatic because I had been wanting to see inside one of the houses and I finally got my chance in Santa Clara. This one had a dirt floor and wooden walls but it was organized and clean as can be. The woman showed us to the back door which looked out on the river and pointed to a muddy trail that led to the outhouse about 100 m away. But then she said we were welcome to just pee right there on the back porch with the chickens and trash. So we did. haha After the bathroom stop and a ten minute lesson from some little girls on a new jumprope game we went down to the river. A boat was leaving right then and only cost 1 sole so we jumped on. This is obvioiusly the best type of adventure when you don't know exactly where you are going :) The river was smooth as could be and we spent the whole ride taking pictures standing on the bow and oohing and awwing over the greenness all around us. We stopped once to let someone off on the side of the river bank and the trip ended in a little dock at the town of Juliana. The driver of the Peke-peke promised not to leave without us so we set off carefree to explore. One of the two motor taxi's took us the whole length of the town in about 5 minutes and dropped us off where the sidewalk ended. The street is a five foot wide sidewalk and runs in a straight line with houses on either side. That's it. There is no more to Juliana. It is literally one line of houses, all of which are on wooden stilts and have little kids and chickens and dogs in the front yards. Definitely one of the cutest little towns I've seen. After paying the 12 year old boy who drove our motortaxi, we continued walking down "mainstreet" which quickly turned into a dirt path. It was INCREDIBLE! I found myself on a little muddy trail in the middle of the jungle of Peru; I was surrounded by huge trees and birds singing and the sun shining was shining. Talk about heaven! I was wearing my five finger shoes and there was absolutely no way I could leave that place without running. So, I took off and yelled that I'd be back in 10 minutes. I jumped from side to side avoiding puddles and did my best to split my attention between the trail and the gorgeous scenery. It was a challenge not to just follow that little trail forever and loose myself in the green wilderness. It was one of those moments that can't be shared with anyone because you feel so totally alive and happy and perfect. Surely I was the happiest person to ever run through that forest and definitely the first gringa. =) But, my conscious eventually turned me around and I returned out of breath to find a VERY VERY angry mom. It turns out that she didn't hear me and thought I had just disappeared into the jungle never to be heard from again. Ooops! When I had been sufficently chewed out for scaring her half to death and promised to never-ever-ever do something like that again, we were able to laugh about it. Thank goodness my host mom is so loving and kind and good natured. I assured her that I had not been attacked by any creepy jungle men and when her nerves were sufficently calmed I asked permission to run a little more. This time I ran through town behind the motor taxi and by the time we arrived at the docks I had a little parade. Some of the boys and a couple dogs joined me for the last bit and ALL the heads turned to see such a strange sight. I guess its not very often that gringas go running through their little town. :) But when I got to the river I just couldn't leave the beautiful banks untouched so I jumped across and ran along the beach. For the third time that day I found myself running in a gorgeous place never before touched by man. My five finger shoes whisked along leaving perfect prints in the sand and it could have been a "rave run" from Runners World. In the end my river bank turned into an island and I had to wade out and jump on our Peke-peke to head back to Iquitos.
So, that is just one example of my loverly jungle adventures :) Now I'll describe briefly my other events and then its time for BEEEEEDDDDDDDDDD!
I went on a three day trip to Huacho and Caral with 12 of the other exchange students last weekend. It was a FABULOUS adventure and I absolutely love all of the other exchangees!!! No matter what we do together we also have fun and it is just like a big huge family. <3 We got to visit the oldest ruins in America (5000 years), the Castle of Chancay, the place where Peruvian Independence was originally declared and a hindu eco-friendly village. We camped in the back yard of the grandparents of one of the exchangees. They have an incredible house, it is like a mansion/ museum/ zoo all in one! The zoo is because they have an alpaca, three giant turtles, 4 parrots and some other animals all right there in the yard. And the artifacts from ancient peruvian cultures make it feel like a museum. But the best part was definitely the hammocks and teeter-totter. When we weren't eatting delicious food or getting to know some new aspect of Peru we were playing on the toys. :) Here are a few random highlights from the trip.
1) Running through Huacho with another XC exchangee from Yakima
2) Buying 4 kilos of strawberries for 4 soles. (that is a huge monster box for $1)
3) Swimming and playing on the beach in jeans and a t-shirt
4) Fresh tamales for breakfast
5) Learning peruvian games during the BBQ with the Rotaract kids from Huacho
6) Singing the Peruvian National Anthem, happy birthday, and disney songs in Spanish, French and English at the top of our lungs on the bus
Also, we had an exchange student halloween party and I CARVED A PUMPKIN!!!!!!!! Yayyyyyyyyy :) Halloween isn't really big over here... They don't really do the whole pumpkin thing, there are hardly any trick-o-treaters and nobody has decorations on their houses. Needless to say I was really really excited to find pumpkins in the Metro. :)
I'll get to the purple parade next post...