Location: The Amazon
After an early morning wake up and breakfast at 6:30 we took a boat ride up what seems to be Willy Wonka’s chocolate river (judging by the color). The boat ride was followed by the bumpiest bus ride ever (my tailbone is now dust). The bus took us to a collection of small wooden buildings that make up the Loma del Tigre area and is home to the Sumak Alpa elementary school. We were put to work right away! Our project was to build a greenhouse for the school children to grow vegetables to supplement a healthy diet. While some workers cleared grass and roots, others lifted trunks and dug deep holes, and several of us were sent deep into the jungle in search of bamboo for the greenhouse structure. We went on a quite a hike, up and down muddy hills, through streams and under barbed wire fences. When we arrived at a clearing, we were given enormous bamboo trunks to shoulder and were sent back through the forest with about five people carrying each trunk. We all struggled with our respective loads because the terrain was very difficult, but after a lot of hard work, we finally made it out of the jungle and collapsed in the dirt. After a wonderful water break, the boys played a muddy and fun game of soccer against the locals. We then had lunch before switching jobs for the afternoon. Lisa, Natalie, and Jessica were brave souls and toughed out the bamboo trek for a second time, this time in the rain! After waiting out a sun shower, we piled ourselves back into the bus, then into the canoe which took us down the chocolate river to our jungle paradise. We washed many layers of mud and sweat off our bodies in the most wonderful shower of our lives. After showers, we ate dinner and played a hysterical game. After a big day, we had soft pillows to rest our weary heads.