Peru blog - Sunday five weeks ago.

Travelling is fine but five hours from home to Edinburgh, a flight to Amsterdam, another to Lima, then to Iquitos, two and a bit hours on a bus then another two and a bit squeezed onto a speed boat was enough.  It was good to get to the boat yesterday; and to meet up with my doctor friend from here.  

What was not good was that I wasn’t well overnight (something nasty I’d picked up somewhere on the journey and I’ll spare you the details) and stayed in the cabin recovering.  The others had emergency drills and started work.

What is the The Vine Trust?  ‘The Vine Trust grew out of a charity gift shop set up in the 1980s in Bo’ness Scotland in response to famine in Africa. Projects in Tanzania and Peru have now helped over 1.3 million people living in severe poverty.

Medical expeditions enable medical and dental volunteers to use clinical skills on the Peruvian Amazon, and on Lake Victoria Tanzania, to provide primary healthcare to isolated and remote communities living in extreme poverty.‘ (From the Vine Trust website).

What’s it like there?  Iquitos, where the boat is based, is over 2,000 miles from the sea - and from there the boat goes further inland, up various tributaries of the Amazon to reach those in need. 

The Loreto region around Iquitos is roughly the size of Germany and it’s 56 districts are all categorises and ‘poor’ with38 districts being ‘extremely poor’ where people live on less that $2 per day - that’s roughly £1.50.  Access to clean water is less that 10% and each person, unless a baby, coming onto the boat is given anti parasite and worm tablets.  Anaemia is rife.  Yet, the people are usually cheerful, resilient and very smiley. 

It’s an awesome and humbling privilege to be pastor to any trip.  

The photos - 

Some of the locals still live on their river boats. The thatched roofs are cooler than tin but having tin over the apex helps keep out the rain.
The Vine Trust's Forth Hope. Home for ten days for me and for 20 days for others. Some Peruvian volunteers go with the boat for many trips each year and the boat really is home from home for them.
Our cabin. It may be compact but it's comfortable, clean and we have all we need. There are the bunks, two large drawers under the bunks, the shelf, reading lights, air-con.
Luxury! Honestly, having a bathroom between two is luxury.  
The corridor to the cabins. There were eight cabins off this corridor. The shoes are those used for going ashore and, usually, had mud sticking to the soles. This was mud that was not wanted in the cabins. Who knows what little bugs were in the mud.
This is a speed boat very like the one we'd arrived on. They go whizzing up and down the river, taking those who can afford it between villages and perhaps even as far as Nauta or Iquitos.