Friday, February 24, 2012

NEWS: First Contact with Howard in the Village, Idealist.Org, and Biofuel Dissertation

To all our blog readers, thank you for following the story.

Howard and Sarah in the Village
I spoke with Howard this morning.  He and Sarah are safely in the village, and had a good night's sleep.  I asked him if the roosters woke him up in the morning (about 4am) and he said no, that they woke up before the chickens!  He was waiting for the interpreter to arrive later in the morning.  They will then go for a walk around the village meeting people and explaining the purpose of his trip, after which they will start gathering information about the village and planing the English program.  They hope to start teaching this Sunday.  In one week they will be returning to Leticia to resupply and communicate by email.  I will post an update of his progress then.

A new connection with the Idealist organization
We are happy to announce that the Amazon Pueblo project is now registered with Idealist.  Our page on their site is here,

This is their mission:
Idealist connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.
Idealist is independent of any government, political ideology, or religious creed. Our work is guided by the common desire of our members and supporters to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect.

A Possible Solution to the Sustainable Energy Needs of La Libertad
Now available as a public document (sorry to those who tried to open it before and could not), is Jennifer's dissertation A Role for Biofuels in the Drug Wars.  Jennifer is planning to volunteer in the village this July.  We hope to be able to try planting a small crop of a biofuel plant and look at what is needed to produce biofuel to be used by La Libertad.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Howard and Sarah in Leticia tonight, and in the village tomorrow!

I received an email from Howard at 6:53 this night.  He said he has met with Felipe the translator and may meet with Gustavo later this evening.

Good luck Howard and Sarah!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

So you want to volunteer.... Our NEW volunteer guide!

The first draft of our volunteer guide is now available on Google Docs.  How do you get to the village?  What to wear?  Are there spiders and snakes?  Where do I wash?  Where do I get frozen TV dinners?

All these questions and more will be, more or less, answered.  Now here is the link!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The first picture of the inside of the new guesthouse.

I just finished reviewing the report from our first volunteer. It was very revealing about the state of the project. We are still very much still in phase one.  

This is a summary of some of the problems mentioned in her report:

1) Gustavo, my contact in the village, does not seem to clearly understand the role of the volunteers, and his role, in the village.
2) Gustavo has not adequately informed the mayor of the village of the project’s goals, probably because he does not clearly understand them himself.
3) The guesthouse is adequate, but does not allow for much security of personal items.
4) The shower is not yet working and probably needs much work, if it is started at all, to become functional.
5) We have a lot of work to do on helping the villagers to understand the concepts of sustainability, to which there may be apathy.
6) Cell phone connection problems and no internet connectivity.
7) Access to fresh fruit is limited.
8) Language communications problems.
9) A good first aid kit is needed.
10) Continued potable water problems.

I understand that many of these problems are due to the newness of the program. I also believe that all of the problems, with the exception of internet connectivity and apathy, may be sufficiently addressed before and during our next volunteers' visits. I have to give Sara, our volunteer, a big thanks for being the first to “test the waters”.

But, given the problems mentioned, I offer Sara's own words to describe the positives that she experienced:

"In conclusion, I am afraid that this report seems very negative, but I am only focusing on the problems, because I had a wonderful time! I am really sad that I had to leave earlier, I enjoyed every minute of this experience. Living among the community, with no communications with the outside world, no internet, no noise, no electricity, in the middle of the nature, with the Amazon River in front of me, and with a very kind, warm family, was one of the best experiences of my life. I would not change it for anything, I loved it! I think this was one of the best experiences in my life.”  “The kids are amazing, the community is beautiful and there is a feeling of peace there that cannot be described.”

About two hours ago I spoke with Gustavo for about 30 minutes (during which time I was cut off about 8 times due to poor signal).  I believe he now understands the direction and goals of the program (but I had though this before).  However, I am now contracting with a translator in the city of Leticia (who is also the owner of an ecotourism business) who will help Gustavo to understand the project and also serve as an interpreter for volunteers who have limited Spanish-speaking skills. 

So where do we go from here?  Please wait for my next exciting blog posts!