Sunday, 30 June 2013

Off to the jungle! - Iquitos, Day 1.

So I'm gradually catching up on posting about all my adventures over the last two months- I've been so busy that I haven't had the chance to even update you all about it! 

Anyway, the month of May for me was a month of travelling. The first trip was to Huaraz (see here), and the next to Iquitos, a Peruvian city located right in the middle of the dense Amazon Rainforest. The only way to get there is by plane or boat- unless you want to walk for days and days through humid, thick jungle. Thankfully, we flew - though at 5AM in the morning- thus, I was quite sleepy all day, even slipping down the plane stairs on my bum and on to the tarmac. Classic Elise. Anywho, I survived. 

The change in the climate was immediately noticeable- as soon as you stepped off the air-conditioned plane, you were hit with a wave of humid heat. Turns out I wasn't the only one who felt the heat - even the buses there didn't have windows because it was so hot! 

We didn't waste any time in exploring the area - we first headed to a manatee reserve. They even had a baby sloth and it's mother, which was so ridiculously cute - forget Sid from Ice Age, the real thing is so much better! We learnt a little about the endangered manatees- they have a lot of trouble in the wile because people either try to keep them as pets or kill them for medicine or meat. Poor things! We got to pet them all, which was definitely an experience! They have hard, husky whiskers around their mouth which I definitely wasn't expecting!

Next stop was a street stall to try 'suri'- or, in other words, barbequed worms. I wasn't crazy enough to do it. I had considered trying a little bit just for the experience, but after seeing the lady pull them out of a bowl, still alive, and spear them on to a skewer and then slowly cook them alive, I couldn't bring myself to do it. Apparently the head was the worst bit- mmm, crunchy!

We then paid a quick visit to a zoo with all sorts of Amazonian animals. The cheeky little monkey pictured above in the enclosure provided us with some evtertainment- first stealing my water bottle to drink from, and then slapping Cyprien in the face after he teased it. Gold!

That evening we walked to the Plaza de Armas to have a quick look around- I say quick as we were getting eaten alive by mosquitos, despite having repellent on! There wasn't really much out of the ordinary to see, so we headed back to the hotel in the hope of getting some much-needed rest!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Dia de la Madre // Mother's Day

Mother's Day here in Peru falls on the same day as it does in Australia, though it is much more of a big deal over here. Of course there's all the advertising and propaganda that comes along with any holiday, but here they take it to a whole new level. Street vendors weave between traffic to try and sell you heart-shaped balloons, chocolate, roses, and some people even paint vacant walls with hearts and 'Feliz Dia Mama!'.

Seeing as all the exchange students now have more than one mother, that made the day extra special. We all had a get-together in La Molina to present a few little surprises and to pay a deserved thank you to our 'mums' here. All of us had prepared drama skits, reflecting the different types of mothers there are. We had the 'party mum', 'gossipy mum', 'preoccupied mum', 'strict mum', and of course the 'Rotary mum'. They were all hilarious- there was a bit of cross-dressing (some of the boys made very convincing mums) and the whole audience seemed to really enjoy it. I was the 'Rotary mum', and pretended to be sending my daughter off to another country, whilst also receiving a new host daughter from Finland, and all the ups and downs associated with that.

We then all presented our mums with roses, as well as received our gold medals for winning the Rotary Olympics a few weeks earlier. We all cooked something for a buffet kind of dinner, and I made pasta for the first time in three months (and boy, oh boy, do I miss it). The Peruvian outbounds (the sons and daughters of our current host mums) had also put together some short videos wishing their mums all the best on their special day and it was so emotional! I was crying so much when I saw Clara's message (my host mum's daughter who is in Germany right now). It was really such a beautiful night with the Rotary family!

One of the skits!

David (guy who was in the same house as I am now before I came), Mama and I
The whole family!

Photos by the lovely Diana Fernandez, and also stolen from Henry.