Volunteers organizing components of the Sawyer Water System in the main classroom at the school in the community of 28 de Octubre - Rio Napo Region, Peru.
Once again I’ve been reminded that all days are equal, but some days are more equal than others. Our team spent a very special day in the village of 28 de Octubre. About forty minutes by boat from the Napo Lodge, this growing community is located on a black-water lake known as Lago Yurac Yacu. Our goal for the day was to bring more than twenty Sawyer Water Systems to families in 28 de Octubre. After preliminary introductions and demonstrations the plan was to split up into teams and assist individual families with the construction of two shelves of the proper height, along with the set-up for the simple Sawyer water filtration system. Yes, by the end of the day more than 100 people would have a dependable supply of safe water for the first time ever. April 17 will be a day to remember for the families of 28 de Octubre, not just for me and the other CONAPAC volunteers. Morning and afternoon sessions were separated by lunch in the school’s main classroom. Sawing the hard wood was hot and tiring, but well worth the effort when the shelves were finished and the system complete, producing almost twenty liters of safe, clean drinking water in just over an hour! The Sawyer two-tiered system helps removes sediment and bio-matter and the 0.1 micron filter removes all harmful bacteria and protozoa. This simple and affordable gravity system is extremely easy to set up, requires only syringe backwashing for occasional cleaning, and can last for decades. In short, it’s revolutionary for people and communities in rural or remote areas and its impacts are multi-faceted. It saves the time to collect, and the burning of, various fuels needed to clean water by boiling. It also improves health so parents can work and children can attend school. These real economic impacts can improve the quality of life for people in a community, and can also lessen negative impacts on the environment such as the burning of trees or other fossil fuels. Families will try out the system for six months and then will be able to keep it for 60 soles or about $20 USD. I’m proud to have been even a small part of CONAPAC’s efforts. I’ll remember this day not only for its potential to change lives, but also because of the fact that I fell through the floor of the raised-houses or Palapa I was working in. Thank goodness it’s not far to the ground and that the edges of the floor-boards on my back slowed by descent. All in all it could have been much worse. Claire from the Detroit Zoo administered some excellent first-aid in the field and given a few days, and a cautionary trip to the clinic near Explorama Lodge, Geoman will be back to normal and ready for some work at the Amazon Library and the long trip home. So, no Geoman’s Journal for April 18th while I take a day and recuperate – sorry. Geoman will return soon!
We saw this Walking Stick insect on the night walk back to our boat after visiting the Explorama Canopy Walkway!
The view leading up to the platforms at tree #6 (118 feet) on Explorama’s amazing Canopy Walkway.
Components of the Sawyer Water Systems provided by CONAPAC that we’ll deliver to nearby communities over the next two days.
Cocona (relative to the tomato) growing in the shaman’s garden. It makes great juice and jam!
The demonstration hut at the ReNu PeRu Ethno-Botanical Garden near Napo Lodge.
The rains came to Napo Lodge after dinner last night and lasted a good portion of the night. Two such storms would probably equal a year’s worth of rain for Las Vegas! The result however, was a pretty cool morning for us to visit the local shaman at the ReNu PeRu Ethno-Botanical Garden. Julio showed us a variety of medicinal plants that are used by river people throughout this region. A common one is Sangre de Grado or Dragon’s Blood. This blood-red tree sap is extracted from the tree by inflicting a deep cut in the bark with a machete. When vigorously rubbed into the skin this liquid quickly turns into a whitish cream which is used to treat cut’s, scratches, and insect bites. An anti-inflammatory, it also helps blood to coagulate. We also saw Cocona fruit which I have had in the form of juice at breakfast. It’s high in anti-oxidants like its cousin the tomato, and is also high in vitamin C. This juice provides anti-diabetic effects and can also substitute for insulin. Before and after lunch we assembled the components of the Sawyer Water Systems that we will be delivering to nearby communities over the next two days. We saved our visit to the Explorama Canopy Walkway for late afternoon so that we could be there for sunset and it turned out to be a fabulous idea. Both tourists and scientists can utilize and enjoy this amazing quarter-mile-long structure which slowly ascends to 118 feet above the forest floor. We traveled by open boat up the Quebrada Grande or Big Creek that leads to ACTS – the Amazon Conservatory of Tropical Studies. This small research station is only ten minutes by foot from the Canopy Walkway’s entry tower. We explored the canopy and emergent layers of the rainforest and enjoyed a sunset from the platform at tree number six. There were many bromeliads (flowering canopy plants), and we saw a pair of Blue-Headed Parrots fly overhead. We also saw several creatures on the night walk back to our boat, including a Tailless Whip-Scorpion, a Walking Stick insect, and two frogs that Geoman couldn’t identify. It’s back to work manana however, so goodnight from the lungs of the world!
Group photo on the front steps of the Amazon Queen with kids from Jorge Chavez elementary school.
Families leaving the Amazon Queen by canoe after recieving their schools supplies.