Well what a delicious drink the Pisco Sour! As you have probably worked out I am writing this having arrived in Peru finally after a very long journey. I left home at 1:30am to drive up to Bristol airport on Monday for a 6am flight to Lima via Amsterdam. I finally arrived at the hotel in Lima after losing one of our bags at the airport at about midnight Monday UK time. We are 6 hours behind GMT so when we got to the hotel we freshened up & then headed at for something to eat at a local restaurant overlooking the sea. Lima looked pretty cool and we had a few Pisco sours then headed to bed. As I write this it is now Monday and we left the hotel at 8am to head to Satipo which is a 12 hour road trip over the Andes heading toward the Amazon rainforest where we stopped the night to fly out to Cutivereni on a small plane.
So 11 of us set off in our little van to travel up to the highest point in the Andes at nearly 5000 meters. In the party we have Frank and Jose our drivers, Carlos and Dilwyn our guides from ecotribal (A sort of diverse ecological company who do various projects including write for travel guides and even import local Peruvian coffee to the UK) Have a look at their website http://www.ecotribal.com/ there are some great photos and information on the Amazon. Also in the party is Jemma and Ruth who are the representatives for Cool Earth who have organised the visit, Jemma is also filming us while we are out here to go on the website and possibly some TV news. We also have Stephen who is the founder of the Cool Earth teaching fellowship (will talk about this in future posts). And finally with myself there are three teachers travelling as part of the group – Matt a history high school teacher from San Diego who teachers at a school called Branham High School http://www.cuhsd.org/ Clover a Biology middle school teacher from New York who teaches at Salk School of Science www.salkschool.org and finally Emily a Citizenship secondary teacher from Sheldon School in Cirencester http://www.sheldonschool.co.uk/
So we left Lima and it took us today about an hour to get about 1 mile which was a bit worrying but after that we started to make better progress up the Andes. As the altitude increased most of us started to really feel it and some started to get a bit sick. At the highest point of nearly 5000 meters around 16,000 feet I felt awful. See the video clip which is extremely funny watching it back now where I absolutely lose it and don’t seem to know what the hell is happening. I guess that what altitude can do to you!
As we started to work our way down to the town of Satipo which is nearly at sea level we started to feel a bit better. We stopped for some lunch and tried some local soup and coca leaf tea which helps ease altitude sickness and it was really nice and refreshing. (As you may know the coca leaf contains cocaine among other things!)
Satipo which is at the bottom of the Eastern side of the Andes is an old frontist town established in the 1940’s. The road from Lima was built in the 70’s and tarmac appeared in the 90’s which cut the journey time by half and also then increased the population. Satipo has a population of around 20-30,000 people and is a base for logging, citrus growing and provides services for the local rainforest area. It is from here that we will fly deep into the Amazon tomorrow and land on a tiny airstrip at Cutivireni which is a strategic community with an air strip and small port with about a hundred people. It was a former mission and is where we will fly into to stop for a day to meet the people who live there. The following day we will trek a further two hours into the rainforest to live with the Ashaninka tribe.