Location: The Amazon

The day began at a beauteous 6 AM, in the eco-lodge dining hall. We took an hour long canoe trip to the 15-minute bus ride to the Limoncocha Biological reserve where we took another half hour canoe journey to the end of the river. Once there, we split into two groups to go on a hike to a massive tree, while another group got started on removing lilies. Altogether, the hike was enjoyable for each group. The first bunch to do the hike saw a beautiful blue butterfly and was entertained by the guide Franklin who fashioned satchels out of nearby flora for some of the girls. The first working group got off to a rocky start with both Kaitlin falling gloriously into the 8-foot deep water, and Jacob clumsily stepping feet-first into a sunken canoe. They began by clearing the deep lilies and discovered a fish and several eels squirming in the canoe. Breaking for lunch was very entertaining as a big part of the group got to hold a female red tail boa, which excited (Audrey) and terrified (Drew) equal parts of our team.

When the second group got to work Hector, the main guide had developed a new technique to more rapidly herd the lilies. This, unfortunately, meant the release of the mosquitoes and gnats for the boat workers. It involved leaning over the side of the boat and grabbing entire islands of lily pads and holding tight while he steered off the main path. It was an incredible test of upper arm strength. Later, when eels/water snakes made a re-appearance, Matt, who suffers from a terrible snake phobia, nearly jumped out of the boat. When we were all together again, we took pictures in front of the impressive 4-ton pile of lilies we had successfully cleared and dumped ashore to decompose. This sort of service work is some of the most rewarding because you can literally see the impact you are making on the way back. Where there were once entire islands of lilies ,there is now a clear and easily boat-able path. After the long trip back, the brave few of the larger group gathered their courage and reassembled at the bank of the Napo River, several flights of stairs below the eco-lodge and some eager onlookers. Fully bathing-suited up, Michael was the first to take the plunge and as his majestic head submerged, a chain reaction began as Lifeworker after Lifeworker dove into the murky red water. After the fun swim, we all came out with big smiles and the slight ego boost of being able to say that we had indeed swum in the Amazon. At dinner, Sarah had the uncomfortable experience of a frog jumping onto her hands in the sink, while it ended up being one of the most massive rhino beetles possibly in the entire world. No joke, we are talking a solid 8 inches long by 5 inches fat. Due to rain, the night hike was canceled but prospects are looking good for tomorrow! All in all a very amazing day and speaking for the rest of the group, Audrey and Brooke certainly love every minute of it J



PS Brooke: Mom, Dad, Cam, and Eric miss you guys like crazy, can’t wait to see you all but I plan on living here so yea. 

Audrey: Hey Maman et Papa!! Don’t forget to feed Padme and have fun in Boston! (Tell Nathan I swam in the Amazon with the piranhas and eels!!)