Taking a Break from the Medical Launch
Primitive cooking, village visits and volunteering in Iquitos
August 28 to September 15, 2006

By Corrie Sample


August 28 – 11:00pm  This was the time and date we left our launch to head for Iquitos.  The plan was to visit 4 of the 5 villages on the way and then visit the 5th on the way back.  All three of us were very happy to get off the launch for a while because the last few weeks had been very stressful due to personality clashes.  Besides which, all three of us love a bit of adventure, so this trip was right up our alley :)  And we had a blast!  The three of us (me, Christina, and Manuel) get along very well and we always are joking and laughing together.  And we make a great team.  :)

This is Huanta, the 3rd village on our list.  It is located on a small tributary river off the Amazon and because the water is low right now, public launches are not able to make it in.  So they dropped us off at the mouth of the river.  We were hoping to find a small boat that would take us the rest of the way, but there weren’t any to be found.  So we walked.  It took about 1 ½ hours. 

Thankfully, none of us had brought a ton of stuff, so we managed quite nicely.  The villagers were surprised, however, that we had made such rapid time.  They said it usually take at least 2 hours.  But we were really hiking fast.  Christina was in the lead and she didn’t want to be the weakest link in our group so she really pushed.  Poor Manuel had to run to keep up sometimes :)  But this was our first view of the village as we crested the only hill we had encountered in the entire hike.  It is really quite a pretty village.   



While we were in Huanta we stayed in the home of the Adventist missionary family that has been stationed there for this year.  They are the dearest people.  We used their ‘kitchen’ one morning to cook some breakfast.  It consisted of fried green plantains, eggs, and bread.  Here, Manuel is pealing the plantains so that Christina can fry them.




And here is Christina manning the fry pan on the ‘stove’ :)   She hasn’t had much practice cooking over an open fire so she was excited about this opportunity.  Dorina (the missionary’s wife) was cracking up watching Christina.  Not that she was doing anything extremely funny, its just that watching a Gringa cook.  :) 





This is an horno, or oven, that was along the river bank in Huanta.  They use ovens like this to bake bread in large quantities.  They are made out of mud and clay. 







Our reaction to this was, “Wow! That is a lot of watermelon!”  This canoe came by while we were waiting for our next launch at the mouth of the river where Huanta is.  He was selling them for 2 soles each, which is about 65 cents. 





Boy, was that watermelon good!  We got one of the ones that you see in the previous picture and as soon as we got on our launch we had a feast!  The three of us ate the whole thing :)  The launch we are on here is the Gran Diego, the largest and one of the cleanest of the public launches.  It has 3 floors.  The top 2 floors are for hammocks and the bottom is for cargo.  Most of the other launches have two main floors and then a canvas cover on the roof of the 2nd floor for more hammocks. 







From Huanta we traveled to Orellana, where we spent the weekend.  The kids latched on to us :)  Sabbath evening Sept. 2 they all came over to our hotel room to hang out.  It was a blast :)  Later on we got all the kids together to play games.  We left the next day to go to Iquitos.



This was the lovely boat we traveled on from Orellana to Iquitos.  Orellana is another village that is not accessible by public launch right now because of water levels.  This boat however, called a colectivo, is able to get in all the way.  It left at 6 am on Sunday morning.  The problem with these types of boats is that they are very slow and they stop everywhere to pick up people.  By the time the morning was half over, we could hardly stay in our hammocks because there were literally mountains of cargo, mainly stalks of bananas but also a lot of other stuff.  The roof also was loaded with stuff.  A pig, goat, and a huge dead fish were also placed inside.  So it was not a comfortable ride at all.  We were planning on going all the way to Iquitos in it, but then we decided to get off in a village called Indiana where we caught a speed boat to Iquitos. 




However, as much fun as we had, we did get extremely tired.  I just couldn’t resist taking a this picture :)  I had to get back at Christina for taking a picture of me sleeping earlier. 



We arrived in Iquitos Sunday, Sept. 3 at about 2 pm.  Manuel was supposed to meet up with a group of doctors from the U.S. and work with them for the week so we went directly to the Adventist clinic.  No one was there though, so we went to find a hotel.  The vehicles you see in this picture are called motocarros and there are tons of them all over the place in Iquitos.  They are the local taxis. 

While we were in Iquitos, Christina and I also helped with the medical group from the U.S.  She assisted Manuel and I helped out in the pharmacy.  There were about 4 doctors attending and they would prescribe the medicine and then send the patients to us to fill the prescription.  I had a lot of fun because I got to practice my Spanish a lot.  Most of the time there was a national translator in the pharmacy, but he was always busy helping the other Americans in the room.  But I was able to fill orders and give directions on how to take the meds by myself :)  Plus, the translator would often ask me questions when he didn’t understand what the doctors had written in English.  So I basically was one of the translators.  :) 





Christina got bored one night while we were at the hotel so she decided to put on Manuel’s clothes.  It was hilarious! :)   I love the expressions on their faces in this picture. 




This is Belen, one of the poorest sections of Iquitos.  We came here on Wednesday, Sept 6 to do a clinic with the group of doctors.  The interesting thing is that when the water is high, most of the houses you see in this picture are either floating or flooded.  Right now they are on dry ground because the river is really low.  It is an area of extreme poverty.  We saw well over 300 patients that day.





This is on the way back to our launch.  We bought this pineapple already pealed but then had no way to cut it more so we had to eat it like a giant ice cream cone :)  Or it could have been a popsicle since it was on a ‘stick.’   




And now we are back on the launch.  We arrived at 1 am Friday morning (15th).  The funny thing is that our launch arrived at 1 but we didn’t actually leave the launch until 2:30 because we were sleeping and didn’t know that we had arrived.  But we got here :)  And then it was laundry time.  The ever continuing chore that is actually quite fun when everyone is doing it at the same time.  :) 
These were the fun time we had.  I already sent pictures and stories about the patients we saw, but so much other stuff happened other than that.  God really blessed the trip.  Everything went smoothly with no hitches.  We had no problems safety wise, thanks to Manuel being with us, and we were able to see all of the patients we went to see.  Praise God :)  He is so good to us! 

~ Corrie ~


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