Thursday, July 17, 2008

A social butterfly and dastardly mosquitoes

JooYeon has been doing an incredible job of picking up Spanish and communicating with the locals. Only a couple weeks ago, she didn´t know any Spanish and a few months ago, had little experience in socializing with strangers, but she has grown in leaps and bounds and now talks to others even more than I do!

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.

As we´ve been using our sheets underneath us to block out bed bugs, we´ve resorted to other means for covering on top of us...

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.

With Iquitos being the capital city of the Amazon region, jungle dwellers envied their wealth and a few years ago, there was a mad rush towards the city. Unfortunately, with no infrastructure to withhold them (it´s the largest city in the world without roads connecting it to other cities), all these people were forced to live in a place of poverty and crime on the outskirts of the city. Moral being, be content with what you have!

JooYeon has been learning the ropes of travelling, what to eat, what to avoid, and most importantly, how to correctly drink a bottle of water so you can refill it many times!

By far the most common form of transport in Iquitos is the motocar. Our friend Alan is actually driver, but he was on his day off here so he rode with us to his house...

Alan´s house turned out to be very practical without wasting space. A chicken coop, coconut tree, special tree with leaves for showering, an orange tree, and a barber shop.

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.

All in all, we´re having a great time though, and we´re making plans for the next two months as we shift into the Andean highlands...


  1. how big are those mosquitoes? Also have you seen any pink dolpins? Mom

  2. Wow, this looks like an great trip. I am living vicariously through your stories so I am so glad that you are able to keep up with the blog there.