This morning many of our summit fellows met in person for the first time. As most of the group relaxed at the hostel or took walks tours through Lima, Melissa went with Blessing, Shneider, and Gaelle for their appointment with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to *finally* obtain their official visas. The process involved shuffling between three different government buildings, visiting a bank, and taking a taxi ride with a driver who listened to loud salsa music. The less said about all of this, the better, but needless to say, at the end of the day the visas were finally procured, and we were treated very well by the kind, patient Peruvian officials who worked at the Ministry… Success!
Blessing and Melissa returned with Gaelle and Shneider just in time to receive Cristhian Ayala Martinez – a Lima native who had been introduced to us through friends of the Advice Project. Cristhian brought us a delicious lunch that his mother-in-law had made for us, and that evening, he’d deliver another tasty meal. Muchas gracias por por la comida, Cristhian! Muy rico!
After lunch, some of our group walked to the Pacific Ocean. It was Gaelle’s first trip to the ocean, and all of us took off our socks and shoes and played for a spell along the shoreline.
In the evening, we had our first official summit dinner, with Cristhian again delivering our meal. We talked about the rainforest in the Madre de Dios area of Peru, the lodge where we’ll stay, some of the issues indigenous people face in the forest, and the writing projects and reforesting volunteer jobs we’d soon undertake together while staying the next many days at the Inotawa Expeditions lodge. We also spoke with Tom Bewick from The Rainforest Foundation US about gold mining, timber extraction, the murders of indigenous environmental leaders, land rights, and recent leadership roles of indigenous women. It was an illuminating, important conversation.
Tomorrow, we wake at the crack of dawn to take a flight to Puerto Maldonado. There, we’ll check in at the office, then take a bus ride to a concession called La Infierno, where at long last, we’ll hop on the boat that will take us up the Tambopata river to the lodge. Some members of our group – particularly Blessing, Gaelle, and Shneider from Cameroon, are still very jetlagged, but we’re all excited to start our summit in the Peruvian rainforest.