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Monday, February 13, 2017

All part of getting ready to travel.

I went to the Dentist today, 32nd St. Dental. Cleaning.  They donated 40 tooth brushes for the Achuar community of Pukuan. Thank you Dr. Carroll.

I spent a good amount of time removing them from their cardboard and plastic wrapping. I placed them in a big zip lock. I am saving every once of luggage weight I can, and the Achuar really do not need waste packaging brought into their community.

What do you think about all of the excess packaging? I would say it is partly for display convenience but mostly to keep small items from "walking" out of the store.

Don't you just hate that? You buy an item, it is on a card with a plastic bubble protecting it, you buy it and it is put in a bag and you are given a paper receipt. How much of that goes in the trash?

Just saying...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Kapawi travel 2017
My latest and last travel to Kapawi was prompted by a request by the Achuar to help them write a book "telling their story". My Achuar friend, Napoleon, and I have tried to collaborate to write a book using e-mail, Facebook and messenger. Not only is the amount of text limited, Napoleon is seldom in an area where there is internet access. He does not have a computer, and uses small Galaxie for typing.This is a very tedious process. This is not an affective way to make progress. I decided I must go to the rainforest and have face to face time. We have set aside a period of time in Wachirpas community to work together. Unfortunately this writing project is not funded. I have self-funded my previous travel to conduct research. Of course, my time writing, editing and publisheing is donated. This time I was astounded by the inflation in travel costs. This is an import project, this will be the Achuar's first book. I decided to start JoAnne's Achuar Project

Going back again...

2014 Post
It is July 19 and I have just finished all of my vaccinations. Some were still good. I did not have to repeat the hepatitis, Yellow fever, mmr, or rabies. But I did have to have typhus and tetanus again. Not too bad.Then there were all of the scripts and OTCs to get. Since there will no medical services in the communities, I am planning for every possibility from diarrhea to fungal infections and headaches to rashes.  For malaria protection, I take one Mefloquinine every week beginning a week out and 3 weeks after my stay in the jungle. Last time down I did get a giardia infection and was quite ill for 5 days.

You can imagine that my medical kit takes up considerable landscape in my suitcase. Since the trip requires flying on a small aircraft and then a boat, luggage is limited to 25 pounds in a soft sided duffle. The duffle can be stuffed into the cargo area. Imagine what you can take with that limitation. The suggestion is 2 sets of clothes, socks for each day, walking shoes, sandals, and a tooth brush. this is just for the lodge. They provide toilet paper and shampoo and wellington boots for hiking. I have to plan for a week in a remote community, too. I must take everything that I will need.
 Fe. 2017
My calendar is filled with "vaccine dates".

I am in the midst of planning and packing for a month-long visit to Achuar land in Ecuador. This will be my 4th time there. At my age, this will also be my last. Preparations include getting all of the immunizations recommended for Ecuador. And they have to be spaced over time. In January I received Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis vaccines. Since they contain live virus, I had to wait a month before I could have the next two. Feb 2 was a red letter day: Meningitis and rabies shot # 1. Feb. 9 was rabies #2. Feb. 23 will be my last rabies shot. At least my Hepatitis A and B and T-dap are up to date and  I caught a break on the Typhoid vaccine, it is a capsule that I will take on Feb. 16, 18, and 20th. I start my malaria pills 3 days out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Achuar Oil

I blog I never posted, 2014:
I returned to Kapawi Ecolodge last July. Initially I headquartered at the lodge. The manager, Andrés, arranged meetings there to discuss my book status and conduct additional research.  While there I presented copies of my book  The Achuar of the Pastaza River to Achuar leaders and a copy of the cover photo to Alfredo Palora. When I was doing research in Kusutkau he allowed me to photograph his family and he is on the book cover. I traveled upstream to Sharamentsa where many tribal leaders gathered for a day long Achuar association meeting focussing on the crisis the Achuar are facing with impending oil development in the Amazon. Note: the oil situation has not improved

Amazon Oil

Amazon oil auctionI returned to Kapawi Ecolodge last July. Initially I headquartered at the lodge. The manager, Andrés, arranged meetings to discuss the book status and conduct additional research.  While there I presented copies of my book  The Achuar of the Pastaza River to Achuar leaders and a copy of the cover photo to Alfredo Palora. When I was doing research in Kusutkau he allowed me to photograph his family and is on the book cover. I traveled upstream to Sharamentsa where many tribal leaders gathered for a day long Achuar association meeting focussing on the crisis the Achuar are facing with impending oil development in the Amazon.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Return to the rainforest


Return to Kapawi 

The rainforest calls to me. Once a person spends some time so close to nature, it attaches itself to you at some level. I feel this longing to stand among the ancient trees. Perhaps it is Arutam, the ancient wisdom residing in the forest.   

Post written in 2014
I am returning to Kapawi Ecolodge. This will be my first time back since publishing “The Achuar of the Pastaza River”. I will be doing further research. I have in mind to visit with my acquaintances in Kusutkau, Kapawi and Wachirpas communities. They are lovely people and it will be good to see them again. They were helpful in providing me with the information needed for my book. The same can be said for the staff at Kapawi Ecolodge. I am quite excited to be returning to see my Achuar friends there. 

I will be visiting a new community this trip. Remigo invited me to visit his community, Ishpingo, when I was in Kapawi in 2011. He has since moved to a new community, Pukuan, formed with his brothers and nephews. I am honored to be their first outside visitor. 

I will also be doing further editing and research. So there are several reasons to return to Kapawi. 

As exciting as the prospect of returning to Kapawi is, there is the reality of preparing for the trip. Setting the dates to be in the lodge was the first hurdle. Then the preparations began. First to consider are health precautions. I checked the CDC website for information. Checkhttp://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ecuador. 
In addition to being up to date on routine vaccinations (polio, MMR, DDP, chicken pox, and flu) the health risks in Ecuador indicate the need for the following vaccinations: hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, rabies, and yellow fever. For malaria prevention, I will be taking one mefloqunine for the next 8 weeks. Then there are other health risks to prepare for, too. I have to filter my drinking water, or boil it. I need mosquito netting over my bed while in Remigio’s community. I will be buying the netting in Quito, and am taking a water filter. 

I know I will have to keep in mind the mantra “cook it, peel it or don't eat it” while I am visiting the communities. The most challenging is the chicha (manioc beer). Since the preparation process involves saliva, it is on the “should not” list, but it is cultural protocol to drink it when offered (which is often). This does cause a dilemma. To be socially correct, I must accept it. But my physician told me it is not a good idea. When I last visited the communities, my interpreter explained that I was allergic to alcohol. In fact, medications I take are contraindicative for alcohol. But this was not understood, and I was served chicha anyway. At first I just politely held the bowl. But eventually I did partake, even if small sips. The bowl is constantly refilled, so you can never get to the bottom any way. Fortunately, I escaped any illness that might come  from drinking the chicha. We will see how it goes this trip.

So, the prep for the trip goes on. I created a medical kit containing any items ordinarily on hand at home. There is no drugstore in the rainforest. Hopefully I will not  need most of the items. But I will be prepared! Cuts, burns, bites, fungus, headaches, sore throat…
With the health considerations taken care of, now I will pack my clothes. Since part of the travel to get to the lodge involves a small aircraft and a large canoe, I am restricted to 25 pounds. 

More on how this all worked out next time.