Arajuno Jungle Lodge

By Karly Britt

Hi friends and family!

This past week, the group had the amazing opportunity to explore the Amazon! The week started with a boat ride down the Arajuno River, a tributary to the Amazon River, to our home for the week: the Arajuno Jungle Lodge. There, we met Tom Larson, AKA the coolest guy ever. Tom told us about all the work he has been doing to help preserve the rainforest and combat deforestation.

Every morning, the group helped Tom with the projects he needed to be done. After weeks of sickness and city life, it was a nice change to get our hands dirty and participate in service work, and doing it for Tom made it even better.

Our first project was weeding and replating bamboo. We also collected bamboo for firewood because, at the lodge, burning bamboo is a large source of energy. After work, we jumped into the river to wash off. That afternoon, we went downriver to Amazoonico, an animal rehabilitation center and sanctuary. At Amazoonico, we got a guided tour from a student from Alex’s Carpe Diem fall semester group, Eli. It was fun to meet a Carpe Diem alum and to see all the animals indigenous to the Amazon.

On Tuesday, the group went to an indigenous community to partake in a ¨minga¨, or work party. We helped plant cinnamon trees and were treated to a presentation on the local culture. We tried many interesting foods (one of the best being roasted grubbs), learned the traditional dance, and learned how to use a blowdart. Tuesday night, we had a good old bonfire complete with ghost stories, singalongs, and smores. The fun night took a turn for the worst after we all returned to our cabin, were telling stories as we went to bed, and then heard banging on the walls of our cabin. Long story short, Sarah Beth, Lauren, and I spent the night in Lauren{s bed to protect each other from whatever the mysterious noise was.
Wednesday, we planted 75 cinnamon trees to help reforestation in the area. On Thursday, we worked with one of the oldest projects of the foundation — conserving the yellow-spotted turtle. We spent the day carrying sand from a nearby beach to Tom{s lagoon where the turtles live and reproduce until they are ready for the wild. On our last day of service, we harvested fish from the pond for lunch and moved the rest of the fish to the lagoon.

That afternoon, we boated up river about 30 minutes, and then jumped into tubes and floated back down the river to home. On Saturday, our last day, we went on a jungle tour where our wonderful guide, Miguel, taught us all about the plants and animals of the Amazon.
Overall, the group learned many lessons this week. After 5-too-many incidents of people getting locked in and out of the cabin and a morning visit with a chicken in our room, we finally figured out how doors work! We are also all experts at scaring away rats and chickens (thanks, Maya!). Last but not least, we learned to never tell ghost stories before bed again.