Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Marathon Trip Home...

Okay, as I said in the end of the last one, we left Weds morning for a 30-hour marathon-trip home. We left the Jungle and took the boat back to town. We waited there at the airport for the flight to come in...2 hours later! We kept asking when it was due...apparently there are only 2 flights that go there per day, and the story we finally got was that they get there when they get there... but that they haven't been on-time in ten years! It was hot and humid in their little airport filled with people waiting for these two flights!

We flew from Puerto Maldonado to Lima where we were supposed to have a tour-guide meet us at the airport and take us around Lima for the day. I'd saved all of my souvenir shopping for that day, as did my roommate, Ali. Yeah...the tour guide wasn't there, and when we finally got ahold of their company and they got someone there, it was two hours later... so we only had a couple of hours in the city before we had to be back at the airport. The traffic was so bad, that it was hard to get anywhere. Long-story short we ended up with about 30 minutes to do ALL of our souvenir shopping and then about 25 mins to eat before we headed back. I stayed calm through the whole thing as I looked at my priorities...which were getting on my flight back home to the states! Nothing else mattered to me that day!

I will add at this point that one of the highlights of my day was watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean in Peru, and being awake on the plane the next morning to watch the sun rise somewhere over Florida and the Atlantic Ocean. That's not something everyone sees in their lifetime!

I had planned on completely drugging myself so I could sleep on the flight home (midnight to 7 am or so) from Lima to Atlanta, but somehow I'd gotten busy doing things in the airport and had forgotten to take the pills soon enough for them to be working when I got on the plane. I had taken a whole change of comfortable clothes and some body wipes, and went into the bathroom in the airport in Lima and basically bathed and changed down to fresh clothes which hadn't been worn or washed once on the trip. I felt FABULOUS!!!

So we get on the plane, do all the details of an international flight, and then everyone spreads out and lays down to sleep. I found myself completely awake, so I took advantage of the time and journaled my thoughts and feelings about the trip. I started writing all the things I missed about home, and things I wanted to do when I got there and finished by writing all the things I loved about Peru and the things I would miss. It was quite enlightening to me as my list of loves were quite a bit longer than the things I'd missed! I want to put a few examples in here but I don't have that journal with me right now...sad! Maybe I'll add them later.

I slept about 45 minutes at some point on the flight, and was up the rest of the time...but it was okay. Somehow I'm able to do things like that periodically.

We arrived in Atlanta and got through the airport and customs quickly on our 2-hour layover, and made the flight to SLC just fine. I was so happy to get off the plane in SLC and be home... What a great experience!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I Survived!!!

Yes, it's true...I came home alive and just fine. I wish I could attribute my blog-slacking to some exotic reason like being holed up in a 3rd-World Country hospital while they re-attached my hand after the caymen took it off...oh wait, no I don't wish that at all! I've seen their hospitals! Okay...let me just tell you about the jungle. I am going to cheat and back-date these posts so the timing makes more sense in the future...

We headed to the Jungle on Sunday the 6th of April. I hadn't looked online at the resort we were going to, and I kind of had an idea that they might not have internet access, but imagine my shock and horror to find out that they didn't even have a phone line!!!!!!! I honestly didn't know how I was going to stay sane for 3 nights/4 days there! We flew into Puerto Maldonado, where we took a tour bus through town, then we took a boat (yep...a boat) to get to the resort about 30 minutes down the river. The jungle was all around us, and I couldn't escape to connect with any kind of civilization until we left on the 9th to come home! There were 2 saving graces there... one was the sparkling (and chlorinated) swimming pool just in front of the bungalow...that's where I started taking my daily bath/shower...I'd only use the one in our room for the soap part, which wasn't necessary every single day. The second was the food. I'm usually not a person who is driven by food at all, but the chef at this resort was AWESOME!!! They had a French Chef that made 3-course meals 3 times a day for choices, but I never had anything I didn't eat (except the passion fruit because while the taste was good, the texture was that of chunky snot).

It was beautiful there, though the terrain was quite different. This time it was flat, hot and humid...just what I needed to recover from this last winter in Salt Lake City. By the way, I learned that SLC had 3 major snow-storms while I was in Peru!

We arrived the first day, got settled into our bungalows. None had windows, just screens. They turned the power on every morning for a few hours and every night from 5-10 pm. All the rest of the time we had no power. I had hot water in my shower once during the week, and it only lasted for about 15 seconds. Otherwise it was cold! There was a resident Toucan at the resort that was very tame, and who drank out of running faucets whenever he could find them. There were also a few parrots who would whistle and say phrases like, "Hola Pepe! Hello Pepe!" They were all fun!

We did a tour of the Jungle the first night and saw enough things to scare us into not wandering in there at night...or even during the day without people with us. I got out there and realized I'd had little sleep for several days, was still processing all of the experiences we'd had over the week before, and looked at the schedule of our tours in the jungle only to realize that there wasn't a lot of down-time. I was getting grumpy from it all, so I decided that I was on vacation now, and I didn't have to go on the tours if I didn't want to. So on Monday while the rest of our group went on a tour to Monkey Island, I stayed home and napped and laid pool-side. It was fantastic and was the best decision I made all week! I went for the morning walk with everyone to see the parakeets in the wild. Then I came home, showered, lathered with bug-lotion for the day and changed into my swim-suit with a pair of shorts and a t-shirt over the top. I took my first nap after breakfast. Then everyone met up and left, and I waited until I was really hot in my bungalow before I went down to the pool. I swam and laid out in the nice hot Peruvian sun. The temps were in the 90's with the humidity in the 90's as well. I wasn't sure how anyone lives down there without the option of being in the water at any given time.

I met one of the guys that worked around the resort (Daniel), and learned he was an artist who had gone to school in Argentina. We talked for quite a while. Then he served me drinks pool-side just before lunch (no one got drinks pool-side at this place!). During lunch, I was eating alone in the dining room and he came and sat by me, shared some of his artwork with me, and proceeded to paint me a beautiful water-color of the jungle at night. It wasn't completely dry (how does anything dry in the jungle?!!!) so he finished it later and had me pick it up that night when he was working at the bar, which I did.

After lunch, I went back up to my bungalow and took my afternoon nap in the hammock outside. I woke up to the sound of one of the parrots talking to me. He wanted my hot-yellow flip-flops and actually came down and played with / attacked them for a while. It was so funny! Then Tuki, the toucan came over and chased him off so he could get a better look at them. I took them inside (the flip-flops, not the birds) and rested there for a while and about that time, everyone got back from their tour that day. I'd had a fabulous day, and wasn't terrifically disappointed that I'd missed the tour even though they did see hundreds of monkeys and other jungle animals. I'd had a great day too!

The first two nights we were there, we went caymen hunting on the river at night. Caymen are a kind of alligator. The first night we saw a few of them but the tour guide wasn't ever able to catch one. The second night, we only saw one but we also saw owls and bats, and their large rodents that are a little bigger than a border collie...and we saw tarantulas.

Tuesday, I did go on the tours again, which were interesting, but I realized that I would have enjoyed just staying pool-side for another day.

Wednesday morning, we started our 30-hour marathon trip home. The smile on my face that day was genuine finally, because I was READY to be going home! I'd had a good time, but I just needed to be home. I was done dealing with the psych-social dynamics and drama in our group. We kind of compared it to "Survivor" off and on during the week and I heard that at one point, someone said that if it was "Survivor" that Chad and I would be the only two left on the island...everyone else would have been voted off. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing...

Overall, I'd have to say that this is an experience that I would recommend doing at least once!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Headed to the Jungles of Peru...

This week has been a whirlwind of adventure, sight-seeing, clinics, and a little shopping, one afternoon nap...and some kick-butt hikes! I don´t know why I don´t think I can do hard hikes at home but here, I´m somehow able to climb my butt all the way up these steep mountains!!! Wait till you see some of the pictures of won´t believe it either! It´s nothing like the simple ones at home!

I´ve had a multitude of experiences, and wasn´t able to blog while we were in Aquas Calientes at the bottom of Machu Picchu for the last 2 days. We toured and climbed all over those mountains, we held a clinic at the school in town, and we did a little shopping and great eating! Last Thursday, we just toured all day on the way to Aquas Calientes, visiting several ancient Incan Cities. It is absolutely amazing! I can´t wait to add the pictures soon!

Today, part of our group is headed back from Cuzco to Lima (Peru), then Atlanta or Houston and then finally to Salt Lake City. I am staying with 5 other people of our group and we are headed to the Jungle in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, very soon. I´m blogging while I have a few minutes waiting for our tour bus to come pick us up for the airport. Not sure if we´ll have internet access there or not. From there, I´m leaving on Wednesday to come back to Lima, where we will tour all day, shop, and then get a red-eye back to the states. I´ll be home Thursday. Hope to blog, but might not have a chance... until later, I´m having a great time!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A day in the Peruvian Hospital...

Today I presented my lecture to a group of doctors and nurses in their hospital. It went well, and we had a fun day overall. I made friends with some of their ER Nurses, and got a great tour of their ER. Let´s just say WOW!!! What an eye-opener! I am SO blessed to have what I have, and to do what I do. They are amazing people down here and they do good work with what they have...but WOW!

Tonight I washed underwear in the sink...That was an experience! I´m hoping it dries by first thing in the morning when we have to leave for Aquas Calientes and ultimately Macchu Picchu on Saturday.

And lastly, my roommate Ali has given me a nickname...¨Little Miss Sunshine¨. Not quite sure why...apparently I´ve given the ït could be worse¨ spiel a few times...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I ate WHAT???

Today was busy...I didn´t get any sleep last night, but got up and going this morning just the same. I bought my first antibiotics from the pharmacy using my limited Spanish all by myself! It was a proud moment. We took a bus to a very remote village, which wasn´t terrifically far by mileage, but took about 2 hours to get to. It might be a good thing that I can´t post the pictures yet, because people would worry about me too much...I took a lot of ¨National Geographic¨ pics today as I saw some of the most amazing scenery I´ve ever seen in my life. I´ve always heard people say that Montana is God´s country, but I saw it today, and it is absolutely breath taking here in the Andes!

We had a cultural celebration put on for us by the villagers, and they actually fed us Guinnea Pig for lunch, which is their most honored meal. Yep, I ate more than just 2 bites too!

We held clinic where we saw their children, and then some of the adults from the village. One boy had chest pain upon exertion, and I immediately suspected asthma but couldn´t hear I sent him outside to run for a minute and come back when he had the pain thing I know, I look out the window and he´s running around all the school buildings! I thought he´d just run around the courtyard a little, but he was out for a full run! Sure enough...I heard more wheezing when he came back!

Let me preface this next story by saying that most of the women here in our group keep at least a little money in their bras...I don´t do that, but I do faithfully wear my hidden money pouch in my pants just below the belt line, with all the things I absolutely cannot lose on this trip. So yesterday we´re eating lunch and the surgeon from the Idaho group who is with us asks if anyone has contact solution. I knew that I had eye drops, which I offerred... Now we´re sitting around the table eating guinnea pig, and I´m reaching down my pants trying to get these eye drops out of my money belt. Let´s just say it looked awfully funny, and everyone was laughing! He wasn´t sure he wanted to use them, especially when they came out warm!

It was a great day!