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Brittany: A new home

October 29, 2010

I am now living in the Amazon! Unfortunately things got off to a rocky start…

We left Quito at 7:30 am and arrived in Tena about four hours later. There are seven of us students here and we went to each internship site, dropping people off one by one. Mallory is working at a tea business; Julia is at a clinic; Kathleen, Francisco and David are at the Tena hospital; Anna is at a state park/island; and for me: an agriculture organization.

I was the last to get dropped off. We drove to my internship site and quickly realized we couldn’t actually drive there. We needed to cross a bridge, but there was construction. Instead we parked and crossed by foot and then walked 30 minutes up a gravel road to the organization. I was not prepared to take such a long walk and had on flip-flops and no bug spray, so now my legs are destroyed with bites.

The organization was actually a collective of farmers who live in the jungle. There was a meeting house, but really no central location. We went to the president’s house and talked to him and his family about the work I would do.

It was immediately clear to me that I did not want to work there. They had said they had an environmental education program, but the more we talked the more it seemed that was not really true. It appeared that if I worked there I would just be working in the garden every day and perhaps attempt to identify plants in the part of the jungle they own. (You know, since I´m an expert botanist and everything). Basically it was everything I hoped it wasn’t, not to mention it wasn’t really accessible… I would have to take a taxi from my house every day ($4 each way because of the rocky, uphill road) and then walk 30 to 40 minutes.

Luckily, my professor was able to see I was not interested. So now I am working for the same organization as Anna. It is a state park-like place on an island (technically a peninsula) in the river that runs through Tena. Its focus is environmental education, so it’s a place for tourists and school groups. For now, it is only accessible by canoe because a flood wiped out the bridge last spring, but it is definitely easier to get to than the other place…

I am hoping it will be a good fit. Today was a little strange because we just cleaned up trash for a few hours, had lunch, and then waited around for our boss before finally just going home. At the moment I’m feeling like it is going to be a loooong 6 weeks, but hopefully that feeling will change soon. There is one really good thing, though. The island has monkeys! So obviously I am quite excited about that.

I also met my new family yesterday. Everyone is very nice. I have a mom and a dad, a brother, a sister, and 2 nieces. There is also another sister that works outside of Tena but comes home on the weekends. It is definitely less comfortable than in Quito, but I’m hoping it will be okay. The only thing I am kind of annoyed about is that I don’t have my own room. Sometimes the nieces sleep in my room and that is where the sister sleeps Friday–Sunday. It is fine, but it hard feeling like I don’t have any space of my own.

I don’t have wireless at my house but there is an internet café across from work. It is just $1 to use the computer for an hour. So hopefully I’ll be able to update regularly, but uploading pictures might be tricky.

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