Tuesday, May 18

Steve: Back in the USA! As of tonight, we are in Atlanta, enjoying a dinner of ribs, nachos, hamburgers and minestrone soup. This was a long travel day (starting with a 7:30AM flight from Lima to Miami, connecting to Atlanta), but not as long as the one we have coming up tomorrow. We will be flying from Atlanta to Johannesburg, a 16-hour marathon. From there, we still have two more flights before arriving in Arusha, Tanzania on Thursday night. It will be a long haul, but are very much looking forward to our time in Africa.





Katie's Kwick Kwacks: My Impressions of the Amazon Jungle. I watched from the airplane window as we entered the wide expanse. Never in my life had I seen so much plant life concentrated in one area. I looked around, but the green sea continued all the way into the distance. As far as I could see there were trees. We were going over the canopy of the Amazon Jungle to some place in the middle of nowhere, flying further and further away from civilization.

The brief three days we spent in the Amazon Jungle were some of the most meaningful on the trip for me. As we landed on that rugged runway in Kapawi, I felt completely disoriented. We were in the middle of nowhere. When we entered the isolated lodge around the river, I was even more uncertain about what I would make of this new environment. I wasn't so sure how many comforts our cabins really provided us with. They were made of bamboo and had thatched roofs - no nails or other metal materials included. They didn't have air conditioning or any kinds of electronic fans - I wondered how I'd ever sleep at night with the constant 100% humidity. I also wasn't sure how I would be able to deal with cold showers. The strong sun was unfortunately not enough to heat the bags of rain water we kept outside our door. I wasn't all that sure I wanted to bathe in water that had leaves and other forms of nature in it. Above all, I was worried about bugs. To be more specific I was terrified of beetles. Not snakes, rats, spiders, or termites - beetles. When we went into our cabins I was relieved to see a large mosquito net above the beds. I felt like I'd be a little more protected with this shield over me at all times at night. When I collected my boots for our first night hike, however, my mood changed. I threw the boots onto my bed and saw three large black and yellow beetles dash out of my boots and into the corners of my mattress. They were hidden in the wood, and no matter how much I looked, I couldn't find them. Now, I was really on edge.

At night I slept in the other room. I took out a flashlight and checked all corners of my mattress. When they were clean, I jumped under the mosquito net and quickly tucked it around the bed. After placing a cold wash cloth on my forehead, I finally closed my eyes. The sounds were amazing. There was an entire chorus of rainforest animals singing for me. I felt completely exposed to the jungle. The bamboo walls and straw roof was not enough to make me feel protected, and I felt like the whole jungle was gaining up on me. I wasn't sure how I would ever survive in this place.

To my great surprise I awoke feeling relaxed and refreshed. I was ready to explore the mysteries of the jungle and overcome my fears. That first day ended up being one I'll never forget. I loved seeing the parakeets and macaws, collecting mushrooms, and walking in the middle of the thick canopy of the Amazon jungle. The sounds, smells, and sensation of the rainforest quickly made me forget my fears. I also liked learning about the Amazon Jungle's many resources. It seemed like one of every five plants was used by the people in some way, and it gave me a greater appreciation for how much of our own medicine comes from the jungle. I wanted to see more. The second day was even more exciting and memorable. I enjoyed walking over the shaky bridges, and treading through deep ponds of mud. Would you believe that I even ate live ants? I soon realized how alive the rainforest is, and was no longer intimidated by the sounds and exposure at night. I felt like I was finally a part of the jungle.

When the day for our departure arrived, I found myself not wanting to leave. I fished in that little dugout canoe for as long as I could before Mom called me to get my suitcase. At the beginning of our stay in the Amazon Jungle I wasn't sure how I'd survive, and at the end I wasn't sure how I'd be able to leave.

David's Daily Dump: Peruvian Football (soccer) on my Birthday. Who would have ever thought that I would spend my fifteenth birthday in Peru? Before we started this trip, I would never have guessed it. Even though this birthday party wasn't with friends and family back home, it was still an awesome day. We went sand dune surfing, and swimming, and ended lunch with a cake! But I think that out of all the things we did yesterday, the highlight was the soccer game that we went to (the first on the entire trip).

Throughout our trip, we had been trying desperately to get tickets to a soccer match. We knew that the rest of the world was fanatical about the game, and followed it very closely. I think that soccer is the most popular sport in over half of the countries that we've visited! Despite our efforts, we weren't able to go to one until yesterday.

I was really excited as I sat down in the Ica soccer stadium on an uncomfortable stone bench. I could feel the energy in the crowd of 5,000, and was already starting to feel the pain in my bottom. The match was Alianza Lima against Colonel-Bolognese (even though the match was in Ica, the Ica team was not playing). Lima is the best team in Peru, and the majority of the crowd was wearing their jerseys. We bought a couple of them too just to fit in with the crowd (and they also made a great birthday present).

When the match began, three rows of seats at the end of the stadium began to fill up with people holding big banners and playing drums. We guessed that these people didn't have tickets, and were let in once the stands were filled. The music they played never stopped and I think they were jumping the whole game. There were no assigned seats, and the stadium was tiny, so the higher you were, the more you could see. Riot police were by the sidelines, just in case anything got out of hand. The match was lots of fun, and very exciting. Lima won 6-2 and we saw 3 penalty kicks in the goalie's box, all of which were goals. One of the goalies even got a red card, and was thrown out of the game. The stretcher left the field over three times with an injured player, and the doctor got a lot of exercise.

I think it is safe to say that no other teenager has had a birthday quite like mine, let alone had one out of their home county! The soccer game was a great experience, and lots of fun for the whole family.












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