So here I am. Sitting at my gate in the Lima airport after what seemed like hours of figuring everything out that went wrong with my ticket, battling the long lines, getting through TSA, searching for my gate and making certain that I had everything in place. Everyone is talking, fanning themselves or on their phones. It’s 4:35pm, and the flight was supposed to depart at 4:50pm, although it was delayed for an hour. Ever since I’ve been a little kid I’ve wanted to do exactly what I’m about to do- work with the indigenous of the Amazon. All of the emails, making preparations for the trip, buying equipment, quitting my jobs..everything has led to this final moment. I’m certain that to many others what I’m doing seems a bit crazy, since I’ve never met the people who I’m going to be working with. I’ve heard stories of people waking up in their hotel bed without any of their possessions, or worse- getting kidnapped. However I really believe that sometimes in our lives, if we are to do something great there will be often be some risk involved. Some chance of everything going terribly wrong. A time when we must make a decision to either trust that everything will work out without knowing the actual outcome of our decision, or back away and accept never knowing what could have been. I happened to meet the President of the organization before boarding the plane, who was also on the same flight as me. We talked about the different types of work that they are doing to help the people, about anthropology, indigenous cultures and much more. It hardly seems real that what I’m about to do is actually taking place. I couldn’t be more ready.
As the plane began its descent, I took a moment to look out the window. I didn’t see any lights on the ground as I usually would when flying into a city, but rather darkness. The only thing that I could see was a river snaking its way across the land, illuminated by the moon. Eventually I saw a light, and then they became a little more frequent as we grew closer to the city- always alongside the river. It’s the first time that I’ve ever flown this low to the ground and seen so few lights. We landed on what seemed like a very short runway, and had to make a ground descent from the aircraft. As soon as the door of the plane popped open we were hit with a wall of heat and humidity, even with it being at night. We walked across the ramp to the small airport, which was covered with a tin roof. After we picked up our things, we left the secure area and found a man that had both of our names on a sign and led us to a large white passenger van. He brought us to our hotel, where we rested briefly then met up with two other members of the team to go get dinner.
The next morning we met up at the office located in Pucallpa, where I had an opportunity to speak with another anthropologist who is part of the team. We talked about what types of work that we will be doing, what supplies will be needed, and the overall objective of the trip- which will be to work on the process of establishing land rights to the Indigenous that live in the forest. The Indigenous of the Amazon are currently suffering greatly from illegal logging in the forest, while there are also issues such as animal poaching and and drug trafficking.