OAT (Overseas Adventure Travels) is associated with the Grand Circle Foundation. They try to support the areas they tour by helping out the schools. So for almost every OAT trip you will be visiting a local school and having a home hosted meal. The school and village of Las Palmas was supposed to be where we visited. But that village has now grown to the point Grand Circle was looking for a new village. So we were the first of the OAT trips to visit the village of Prada.
Prada, as seen from the river. It is a village of about 80 people. They have their own language, although most everyone also speaks spanish.
They catch fish to sell for money to buy soap and other goods not available from the forest. These nets are the live wells where they keep the fish until they take them to market.
This young man of the village was our guide, showing his knowledge of the flora an fauna. Here is a large praying mantis type insect.
These are the fish they catch and keep in the live well until taken to market.
Our guide could tell us of the medicinal properties of the plants in the area. Some were good for indigestion and others for headaches.
Just a pretty flower in the forest.
A community house for the village.
Using natural plants to create the dye for their crafts.
Dyeing the yucca strands which are used to make baskets and other crafts.
An example of the crafts they make. Tourism is becoming more popular and the people along the river have found they can make more money selling crafts to the tourists than by any other endeavor.
This is the group of children which attend this school. It has six grades, and children attend from about the age of 4-12. In addition to reading and writing and the basics, they are also taught about hygiene, bathing and brushing their teeth. If they want to continue their education, they have to travel about an hour by boat to a upper level school, which is five years. Most kids are done with school by age 15 unless they go on to the university in Iquitos or Lima. The school teacher here came from the village. She left and spent five years at the university to become a teacher. Because she has agreed to come back to her village to teach, and to continue her education, she is receiving special pay in addition to regular teacher pay. The government pays all teachers and she will make about $1000 a month.
Some of the supplies which we brought for the school. It is encouraged by OAT for individual travelers to also bring something for the school and a gift for the home hosts.
This is somewhat typical of a home found in the villages along the Amazon. Sometimes they have walls, and even interior walls dividing the space into rooms. Very little furniture. They just throw down a blanket on the floor at night, placing a mosquito net over themselves, to sleep. Their personal items and clothing are usually hung on the sides or from the rafters.
The cooking area is usually not in the home itself. This area is directly behind the platform.
Here is our dinner cooking. Since we surprised this village with our visit, we brought food for them to prepare. OAT also pays the home host for hosting these meals.
Here we are being taught how to make a tamale.
These large leaves were laid down for our table.
Food was placed on the leaves and we gathered around to fill our plates. Most of the locals do not use silverware, but OAT provided the home host with dishes and silverware for us. They got to keep everything which OAT provided since they will be using when they home host again in the future.
This anaconda was found trying to eat the fish in their live fish well (remember the green net).
Of course I had to feel the anaconda and it quickly wrapped itself around my arm. I'm glad the young man was holding its head.
Prada village is known for its large water lilies. There is a small protected area off the river where these water lilies thrive. Some grow as large as 6 ft in diameter.
This is a bird of paradise. It has what looks like sap leaking from the leaves and hummingbirds and insects are attracted to it.
When we returned to the ship, some of the local villagers were there to play some local music for us.
And the ladies were there to dance some local dances as well.
Next blog will be about some of the larger towns along the Amazon.