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Archive for June, 2010

Goodbye to Arajuno Jungle Lodge!

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

This is to be my last blog post, as the volunteer of the Arajuno Jungle Lodge. I’m spending a bit of time in Tena and in Quito, before I have to catch my flight back to the States on Thursday.

I wanted to quickly cap off my stay with an overview of all that I’ve done and seen and experienced, because it’s been unlike anything else!

The work that I’ve been doing, my time in the elementary school of San Pedro, was absolutely brilliant. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, for better people to work with. The kids were so curious and eager to pick up English, and the teachers just as much so. In turn, I learned how to write an awful lot of words in Spanish I’d not before known, as well as various Quichua words, and the basic skill of being the one in charge. This was my first prolonged experienced teaching in a classroom setting, as a fairly legitimate teacher, and I think I did well.

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(working on our Libro de Ingles on the last day)

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To be completely honest, how much of that information they’ll retain I couldn’t say, but at the very, very least, the thing I most hope to have instilled is the will to keep learning. Natalia, one of the profesoras, asked me to say a couple last words before leaving, and so I told the kids that the world is big. The world is huge, made up of places and people and experiences beyond the wildest imagination, and  if you want to discover it badly enough, if you are willing to work and work and make what you want possible, then you will. After which one of the kids, Jonathon, said he wanted to go to France.

And I sincerely hope that these kids, as young as they are now, will keep that drive, and keep pushing for more education, for more knowledge of the world. Leaving them was so, so difficult for me…I only knew them for a few weeks, but I feel such an empathy for them. Their situation in the world is not the easiest, by a long shot, and maybe this is why my heart hurts so much just leaving them to figure it out on their own. But they are beyond strong, and I know that if they want to do something, go somewhere, and be someone, they will.

All of Us!

And that’s the note I’m leaving the Amazon on. It’s been a trip, to be sure. I’ve seen tarantulas, ridden on top of buses, taught English in Spanish, eaten bugs, had my cookies stolen by a monkey, and I got to wake up every morning looking out on a tributary of the Amazon River. What a life, what a lucky life I lead :).

Thank you to Tom Larson, to Charo, to Mona, to Romiro, to Marco, to Natalia and Teresa, to everyone who has made this experience as unbelievable as it has been…you are all wonderful, wonderful people.

Student Volunteers from North Carolina State University at Arajuno Lodge

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

A group of fifteen students and their leader Janice Odom arrived at the lodge in the afternoon on Wednesday, June 2nd. The student group is from North Carolina State University, and they are a part of what is called the Caldwell Fellows. The aim of the program is to give driven students the means and space to explore the world and make a difference, however they so choose. Every year, they embark on a trip to somwhere in the world that means something to them, and this year it was Ecuador.

During their time here, they will be completing a turtle pond in Campo Cochoa, a community just downriver from Arajuno Lodge.  This turtle pond is a part of the sustainable living solution that Tom Larson is implementing in the river communities.

Building the Fence

Thursday and Friday were spent machete-ing, digging a trench, hauling rocks and gravel, mixing cement, and building the fence around the pond.

Digging The Ditch

Hauling Rocks

Pulling the Tree Out

The project will be completed on Monday, with the last two sides of the fence being cemented in. Soon after, turtles to be brought over!

This is a hard-working group, throwing themselves into everything 150%. I have absolutely no doubt that these are people we will be hearing more about in the world.