One of the main reasons I chose an SIT (School for International Training) study abroad program is that I get to go on a lot of excursions with my group! So far, I have been on three excursions, which we call viajes, that were all at least one week long. The first trip was to Machu Picchu, and the second one was to Isla Taquile. Both of these trips were so much fun, but I think the most recent one to Puerto Maldonado has the best story.
Puerto Maldonado is in the Amazon region of Peru, so I was really looking forward to getting back to some warmer weather and humidity. “It’ll be like I’m back home!” I thought. Little did I know, the humidity of Georgia summers is nothing compared to the Amazon. When we landed at the airport in Puerto Maldonado, it felt like I was in a different country! I was only an hour flight from the dry, cool air of Cuzco, but it felt like I was on a tropical island in the Caribbean.
The fun really started that Monday when we all went to an indigenous community called Infierno. While I was in the local museum with my class, I started to feel a little nauseous. “Oh, it’s just the heat,” I thought, “I’ll feel better in a little bit.” I didn’t know what was coming! Long story short, I ended up throwing up six times that day and had to go to the small, community clinic where I received an injection of nausea medicine (which left a nasty bruise on my arm!) and an IV of electrolytes. The next day, the schedule was to go back to Infierno to do farm work with local families, but over half of the students plus all three teachers in my group ended up getting sick, so I just laid in bed and napped all day–it was a much needed day of rest.
On Wednesday of this excursion, everyone was much healthier, and we continued our trip up the river to a lodge in the rainforest. This place was incredible, and it redeemed my perception of the Amazon. It was all I hoped for, really! I got to see lots of brightly colored macaws in the canopy of the forest, cute nutria splashing in a lake, and adorable capybaras walking through the mud. It was amazing to see animals like those in the wild! Also, the trees and plants of the rainforest are just as cool. They almost don’t seem real. It’s stuff I’ve only ever seen in pictures or movies, but I got to experience it all up close!
This excursion definitely had its highs and lows, but overall, it was an incredible experience–truly once in a lifetime!