01 March 2010

La Vida en la Selva del Amazon (Part 1)

How do I find words?

It's late at night and I'm struggling, trying to think of a way to describe my trip to the Amazon Jungle. Some of you read my missions blog at http://kristentorrestoro.myadventures.org, and have already heard some of the story and seen some pictures. I want my account here to be different for you, my friends. I want you to taste the South American heat, swelter under its mischevious sun and watch the river race past a jungle dancing to its own beat. How do I describe such a beautiful, wild, dense, diverse place? How do I take you there with me?

Hopefully in these next few posts, I will find a way. This week my blog is dedicated to telling y'all about the trip. My goal is to make you feel you just spent a week in the wild Amazon Jungle.

First of all, the trip was way too short. Second, I arrived exhausted out of my mind. We weren't jetlagged at all, but after 24 hours of travel and very little sleep, I was more than a little goofy. Actually, I felt stupid. At one point at 5am, a security guard in the Lima airport asked me if I spoke English or Spanish so she could explain something. All I could do was stare at her, unsure if she even said anything remotely coherent. It took me a while to figure out she was speaking English!

My Spanish was rusty at best, having learned it through immersion, and I wasn't used to the jungle dialect anymore. So I spent my time there my mind all a-swirl, trying to keep up and also be able to communicate myself in this beautiful language. By the time we left, I felt like I was finally getting my "sea-legs" back in Spanish. Such a disappointment to leave!

We arrived to a typical Amazonian downpour, which was highly ironic considering the clear skies around us as we flew into Iquitos. My friend and I raced across the tarmac and prayed our luggage wouldn't get too wet. Our hosts met us at the airport (always a plus!) and after a quick lunch in Iquitos, we took a 90 minute taxi to the village of Nauta, which sits on the edge of the Maranion river, a tributary of the mighty Amazon.

I spent some time in Iquitos and Nauta two years ago, so seeing places I remembered--places I honestly never thought I'd see again--was very disconcerting. Things definitely changed and a lot was the same too. When we pulled up at my host's house, I knew where we were in the village. That was a cool feeling! You'll notice that the buildings in the pictures below have walls. There are motorcycles, auto taxis (kind of like rickshaws, but not on bicycles), and other western conveniences. It's not as primitive as many of the other villages I lived in back then.




**The streets of Nauta--Photos by Kristen Torres-Toro**

Children flocked about us. Not long after I introduced myself, cries of "Kristina! Kristina!" followed me inside. Determined not to crash until evening, my friend and I went outside to play volleyball with some girls. The rain finally let up so we were in the mud--perfect! I kept hitting it out of bounds (it was a very small court and all this p90x is making me really strong--ha!), making it roll down the hill towards the river. But the little girls didn't seem to mind chasing it, and we had a lot of fun!


**Photo by Kristen Torres-Toro**

After a bucket bath, a dinner of mac'n'cheese (brought over from the States), and a lot of laughter, we went to sleep.

Over the next couple of days, the four of us met with several pastors, walked throughout Nauta, sweated gallons in the heat, established the set up for the trip this summer (the reason we came), attended a children's ministry, taught in a youth service, and took a day trip down river. You'll hear more about that Wednesday--so please come back! It was a very full trip and we were tired, but it rejunvenated me at the same time. I got less sleep there than I get here, but I had more energy during the day than I have here. I felt... honestly, I felt like I was home. For me, that was the best part.








**Photos by Kristen Torres-Toro**








**Photos by Connie Rock: http://donrock.myadventures.org**

I was completely unprepared for the onslaught of memories, caught off balance by the trip itself. It literally came from out of nowhere. I graduated college in 2007 and three weeks later woke up in the Amazon Jungle. For two months, I was an Amazon woman. And a part of me came alive that I never knew before that time. Maybe it was the newfound freedom of being a college graduate coupled with the knowledge that I was doing what I loved and was in one of the most remote places in the world. I'm also a huge nature lover. I hate being inside. So living for several months in huts without walls was a lot of fun for me! The trip itself was hard... physically very taxing, amongst other things. I left the jungle feeling like it got the best of me. Returning almost three years later, I have a completely different perspective. And the shadows cast by those hard memories only create a contrast for the light. This trip I was able to remember the good--oh, it was so good!-- and in a way, re-experience it. It was exactly what I needed. I had no idea how much I'd longed for the jungle until I was there, back in her embrace.


Photo by Kristen Torres-Toro, 2007

See you Wednesday!

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting those pictures. As an armchair traveler I appreciate that. ; ) It's wonderful to read how much the jungle means to you. My hubby went to Costa Rica in December and had a great time exploring the jungle too.

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  2. Oh, I loved the memories you shared! I really took me back to the time I went to Africa for 2 weeks. It was truly an amazing experience, filled with wonderful people and beautiful places.

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  3. What an amazing place! And it sounds like you had a happy, safe, and inspiring trip! Love the pictures you shared...what sweet faces!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  4. Glad you got your "sea-legs" back in Spanish and I must say by these pictures I'm reminded how much people communicate without words. What a trip. Thanks for posting.
    ~ Wendy

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  5. Awesome, Kristen! I loved getting a glimpse of what your trip was like. And the photos are beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

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  6. If those aren't "missions" pictures, I've never seen any. Those will whet the thirst for sharing Jesus in Chile like nothing else. Great job.

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  7. Amazing. I can't believe you do what you do. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

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  8. What BEAUTIFUL pictures, Kristen. Those kids are absolutely adorable. Sounds like you had a great trip, I'm so glad! And thank you for sharing your pictures and experience with us :)

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  9. You succeeded! I felt like I was by your side as you posed with children, played, and ate mac 'n cheese. :)

    Thanks for helping us see the Amazon through your eyes.

    Blessings,
    Susan

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  10. Wow, it sounds like an amazing trip. And what gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing a little bit of this with us. :)

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  11. It must have been so inspiring. Missions always is. Great pictures. The jungle must be incredible!

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  12. Amazing! What an inspiration you are! Soldier on girl!!!

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  13. Thank you for sending me on a journey...and it was free!!!

    Love this blog...and you.
    Patti

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  14. Kristen, you make me long for that wildness! Beautiful pics. I'm also jealous that you learned Spanish by immersion! I LOVE learning foreign languages. How fun! I hope the trip later on is awesome, and I think it's great how God used this trip to show you the goodness of your earlier stay. :-)

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  15. What a trip! Great pictures, thanks for sharing them.
    Blessings,
    Karen ;)

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  16. Those are some amazing pictures. I can't wait to hear the rest.

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  17. Oh, those pictures. Unbelievable. What an amazing experience!

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  18. Oh, Kristen, I want to go there. I especially want to hug and sing to that little girl with the stringy hair. Did you cry buckets when you left?

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  19. Kristen, this is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing. You are truly God lead to take on the Amazon and feel at home in it. Loving the pictures and telling. Looking forward to more.

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  20. Great pictures. Love the one with the kids playing volleyball. You're so brave.

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  21. I love, love, LOVE these pictures! I'm so glad you were able to go back! So glad you were able to pick up your soul and (perhaps) bring a little more back with you this time. Or, perhaps, like me and two destinations in particular, you left MORE behind. I want to take those little kids in my arms! Reminds me of India...which, by the way has been on my mind a LOT lately...hmmm....

    Jen

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  22. Kristen, you're so brave and faithful and amazing! Thank you for sharing this. I know nothing of a world like this, traveling for others and reaching out. You're inspiring.

    May you be blessed.

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  23. Amazing -photos! You took me there. To touch lives all of the globe for Jesus is miraclous. Keep allowing the Lord to use you!

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  24. Fascinating, looking forward to reading more. Makes me a little ashamed of not giving back in such a way.

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  25. What a beautiful thing you are doing. Thanks for sharing it with us each day!

    I love that this time being down there feels different but like home. There's something magical about that home but not where you've been raised feeling--like getting wrapped up in a soft and warm blanket.

    Again, thanks for sharing!

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