Last Day in Nuevo Jerusalen

I have included some photos here that were taken by my friend and are copyrighted by Darvinia Amazonia Reserve.  These may not be copied and used without the expressed permission of the photographer.

Sabado 1May10


It rained last night, and as I tossed and turned in my tent, trying to decide if I should get more calamine lotion (it takes so long to dry) I noticed lights in the high rafters.  Fireflies with a strong white glow.  I shined my flashlight on one at the corner of my tent – it looked like a small cockroach.

Found a third pen in my backpack last night as I was searching for an antihistamine, thinking that might help with the mosquito bite itch.  In the middle of the night the baby started coughing loudly and crying.  Hope she doesn’t have what my friends and Arturo have, as it lasts a long time.

The Help

Yesterday afternoon Mary and I went through the finances, putting money in envelopes for all of our workers: Ramon, in whose house we are staying and whose fish we eat; Nati, who does the cooking, cleaning, and laundry; Cindy (pictured here) who helps with the laundry and dishes; Sergio Junior (pictured, also in the kitchen) who empties and cleans the toilet buckets, sets out the solar lanterns (really nifty little things with a high and low), with the black water container for the shower, each day  in the sun, as well as fill the kerosene lamps which we use for dinner, as they’re not as bright as the solar lamps which we use primarily as flashlights; Jhonatan who serves the food, clears the table, and boats into the nearby village for more provisions when needed.  (He was supposed to have monitored the condensed milk so that we wouldn’t go a day without.) 

The whole family sets up drop cloths on which their dining and bedroom floorless tents rest, the tents, and all of the furniture, which is hung from the rafters for the rest of the year.  After we leave they’ll clean everything and store the tents, lights, plates and flatware, the drinking water base for which they buy three office-size jugs of purified water each year, the hand-washing container (which uses river water), miscellaneous tools and so on in large wooden chests.

Our tents didn’t allow breezes.  Their solid tops were too low.  (Dining tent shown here.)  The village houses are built for this weather, raised on stilts for the floods, opened to breezes, with high thatched roofs where the heat can rise, and vents at each end. 

People with young children have picket-type guardrails (shown here – higher raised area is for watching the soccer games), and most (not Ramon) have one bedroom with wood walls for more privacy.  These bedrooms, however, have no ceilings so that the heat can rise.  Ramon’s bedroom is a large mosquito-netted cage.  In this are a hammock used by the kids and a cotton sheet tent with a mattress for himself.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

This morning a short rain shower, so we waited to leave.  Went through the animal pictures in my friends’ Peru book with the kids (and Ramon peering over my shoulder) and talked about which animals were in my state.  Drew a rough map of the Americas to show where my friends and I live, and how far Peru is.

Then we boated through a fine mist; when we left it our parkas were coated with water.  We saw a lone monkey, then a hawk on the top of the tallest tree.  No butterflies, dragonflies or noxious bugs out; guess they hid from the rain.  A ringed kingfisher (Mary’s photo) and our friends the ani.  Then the downpour started.

A Spontaneous Market

We stopped at the village as Mary has laminated photographs that she had taken last year of the families; they all have them displayed proudly on their walls.  And Hawaiian shirts for wives of our guides and Jim’s core workers who were with us in Iquitos.  We went to Albero’s house first.  I gave his wife, Selva (which means jungle), the books and pencils that I had bought for the school, as the teacher was still in Iquitos.  She said that she’d give them to him next week.

Then a spontaneous market happened.  Women, with their children, descended and put out squares of plastic on Selva’s floor to display their baskets and jewelry.  Mary bought one to three items from each for about S/.30 each, or $11.  I couldn’t buy anything unless I did the same, so I asked Mary to purchase one porcupine quill bracelet for me and I’d reimburse her the S/.5.  Then, after Mary had all of her loot in a black plastic trash bag, everyone put free necklaces and bracelets on both of us, and gave us kisses.

After that, on to The Director’s House.  It was raining heavily but the men were at work raising the fourth and last frame.  Jim was draped in a parka watching.  I had a feeling that if there weren’t an American involved, the men would be sensibly back in their homes, out of the downpour.  We didn’t get out of the boat, but turned around for “home”.

In the rain the river had a snaking stream of current, black, the rest of the river white with raindrops bouncing upwards.  Under overhanging trees the drips made large bubbles.  No insect sounds, only one bird call.  Just the motor and the high-pitched crash of the rain.

I stopped writing when I realized that the arm holes and the head hole in my rain parka for temporary use were leaking.  Plus the rain was so cold (lovely!) that the inside was steaming up.  By the time we got back I was pretty wet, but Mary, with her snazzy parka, was too.  I had no dry clothes except for a T-shirt and shorts; Mary lent me a long-sleeved shirt as it was actually chilly, and I put on my sneakers rather than sandals.  Nati had done my laundry two days ago after Rebecca had peed on me and those clothes had not dried, yesterday’s  clothes, soaked with sweat, had not dried, and today’s clothes were now wet.  At last the rain stopped and I hung them in the sun.  We would be leaving tomorrow and I would prefer not to pack wet clothes for a day’s travel.

Jim and Mary went to a formal “reunion” in Nuevo Jerusalen at four, but I begged off.  Not interested in sitting around for a lot of speeches in Spanish.

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One Response to “Last Day in Nuevo Jerusalen”

  1. Jim Says:

    After I gave a brief inspirational talk, about our steady progress in agriculture and ecotourism, all of the guides talked about various aspects they were working on. It ended with a lot of applause and festive photo taking. Then Mary and I bid our farewells, and exchanged best wishes for the coming year. I found it extroadinarily gratifying; and can hardly wait to return. Next year, I plan to resume my dearly cherished habit of early morning wildlife observation, before joining them in work.

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