JooYeon´s brother (Kiwi) and cousin (Gyusawng) flew into Iquitos on the 15th, and so they´ve both been experiencing their biggest adventure ever, as they had went directly from school into the army and haven´t had much opportunity to travel. It´s been a bit confusing now as we communicate in Korean within our group, in English with JooYeon, and in Spanish with everyone else! Shown below was an emotional moment, the final kim-chi meal (you have to understand how important kim-chi is to Koreans to truly feel the power of the moment!)Walking around Iquitos with JooYeon´s brother and cousin, we enjoyed the markets, daily life, etc.
Back and forth on the outskirts of the Amazon, JooYeon and I took a two day trip out of Iquitos up the Amazon with Wes and Jenny to a small village called Tommyshacko (where the kids are playing soccer), and then went into the jungle a bit to spend the night with a traditional shaman named Victor. (Below is his hut). It was great to hear him explain all the medicinal uses of various plants and listen to his chants and songs late into the night, although the swarms of mosquitoes were definitely a distraction at times.
Yesterday, I had to make one of my most difficult traveling choices... we had planned a four day trip deep into the jungle with Wes and Jenny, but after our excursion to Victor´s and seeing how the mosquitoes were biting (I´m not sure if you can see the multitude of bites on JooYeon´s arm alone below), I was a little worried about malaria even in spite of taking preventative medicine. So I did some research on the Internet and discovered that the area we were travelling to has actually held the highest rate of malaria in South America over the past two years and is termed an epidemic with over 300,000 cases reported last year (and there aren´t that many people here). Of course I had looked before, but the travel maps had only differentiated between malaria and non-malaria regions so I thought it wouldn´t be a problem if we took medicine. Weighing the advantages of a few days in the jungle vs. my lovely wife potentially getting a chronic disease (they seem particularly attracted to her blood- I can´t blame them of course...), I made a judgment call to shift the schedule around a bit and play it safe this time around.