Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Bienvenido a Iquitos! The First Fortnight

Our flight to Iquitos left Lima at 6.15 Tuesday morning, and seeing the Amazon out of the airplane window suddenly made everything seem very real! When we got off the plane we were met by the Director (Jorge) and tyhe psychologist of the orphanage Flor (no-one even checked our passports!), who are both absolutley lovely. We arrived at the aldea (orphanage) where we met the staff and ´substitute mothers´ and the children presented us with a bouquet of flowers and cards saying ´te queremos Tia Claire´(we love you "auntie" claire) then the girls performed 2 dances- it was so so lovely! We went to take our bags to our apartment which is within the orphanage, however the children ran in hoards to the car to take them for us! The apartment has a largeish bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and a classroom at the front which is no longer used and a concrete garden round the back. Jorge then sat us down in a massive circle to meet all of the staff who introduced themselves, a little intimidating but oh well! We met Carolina, a child psychologist intern, who we were told we would be working closely with, which I am glad about beacause she is so nice although the faces she pulls when she doesn´t understand mine and Saskia´s spanish are pretty entertaining!

We walked with one of the tias to school in the morning at 7am and had a chance to see more of the area; directly opposite the aldea (more specifically our bedroom) is a big park where there are concerts every Thursday to Sunday, next to a top security prison with armed guards outside, which is next to the school! An interesting combination of establishments to say the least. Even by 8am it is ridiculously hot here- and we only have cold water from the taps, but it´s actually a blessing!

Wednesday dinner time I was sitting with Modulo 9 (the aldea is split into 12 different"modulos" or houses each with a substitute mother and around 8 children in each) with Tia Magdalena (the substitute mother for 9) and she heard that a new baby was coming for her but she knew nothing more. The Lady Gaga video "Alejandro" was on the TV and i suggested that we could name the baby Alejandro is he were a male, and it stuck! He is one month old and was left at the hospital by his mother.

Little Alejandro spends a lot of the time crying his eyes out when Magdalena isn´t holding him but hopefully he´ll quieten down!

Mealtimes here are very different- breakfast at 6am, lunch at 11.30, then dinner at 5.30! Every mealtime we eat rice, the other day they even managed to put it into the milk we drink for breakfast! However Saskia and I would much rather spend our money at the internet cafe or more importantly on ice lollies so we are surviving! Unfortunately our apartment doesnt have a fridge, only a freezer, and we are yet to find the perfect time to chill our water for- we have found it rock solid in ice for m many times. However, it is perfect for storing ice lollies! Unfortunatelty nothing else!I am surprised we haven´t yet climbed into it yet the heat is so intense, and will be all year round we are told! The only thing that will change is the amount of rainfall.

Saskia, Carolina and I had a stimulation class with 3 of the babies one morning (Robinson, Lluis and Maria) and we played with toys to teach them about different colours and sizes of objects. We have also been spending the days helping those who dont go to school (about half of the children) with their work; many cant read or write and for that reason they spend their days in the aldea; I often feel sorry for them they look so bored! But I hope we can change that! Saskia and I have helped a girl called Claudia several times with basic maths and reading and writing, as at 12 she still is unable to do so competentley.

Unfortunately we have no airconditioning or fans in our apartment, however what we do have, is 2 frisky lizards which like to appear just as we are about to go to sleep! (which tends to be between 8-9pm! except on weekends...) However we do have to get up for breakfast at 6am so we need the sleep! Especially when we end up playing so much football everyday!

Last week the Aldea celebrated its 18th birthday, so all week there were celebrations. On Monday the children didnt go to school and the aldea had a procession from the square down the road back to the aldea. It was quite a sight; the whole road was cleared and we were accompanied by 2 policemen while the children walked with a banner reading The Aldea Infantil Santa Monica. Quite a feat for the tias with all 65 of the children! Even the director Jorge said in his best English "This is beautiful" which it was! On Tuesday evening there was a fiesta in the aldea with men playing the drums , and on Friday there was a Mass in the orphanage (haha my first!) a little hard to understand the songs and prayers in Spanish but interesting nonetheless. For lunch there was BBQd chicken (it had a special name, but its gone out of my head!) and I sat with a man cxalled Padre Miguel (Father miguel) and another Father as well I think- unfortuanately Saskia couldn{ attend as she was sick and bedbound all day :( but she was better within 24 hours thank god!!

In the evening there was a party at the orphanage with various dance acts, most performed by the children of the aldea but some by teenagers of a half way house, which were all amazing! Unfortuanetely ot was interrupted by a terrential downpour which resulted in a powercut which lasted until the morning, which was such a shame, especially as the younger children were so scared by the thunder and lightening! Luckily it calmed down and everone could return home safely.  Saturday evening there was a birthday party for some of the children in the aldea, the year is split into parts and the birthdays are grouped together and celebrated collectively. There was a discoteca and later a clown (personally I find them all a bit creepy!) but the children were all so happy it was worth it! Although Saskia and I ended up being in charge of baby Robinson and Mark Anthony who covered themselves (and ourselves) with their drinks it was very enjoyable!

Anyway...I think I ahve covered nearly everything which has happened in the 2 weeks we have been here! i am going to try and upload some photos now (although it does take forever and a lot of will power!)

Besos from Peru xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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