I have arrived in Leticia! Our flight was an hour late due to a passenger with an illness. She became sick just before take-off, so we went back to the gate and she de-planed. I hope it was nothing serious.
When in Leticia I checked into my usual hotel, Hotel Fernando Real, and settled in. The first things I bought in the city were a 5 liter bottle of water, bananas, a San Francisco Giants ball cap, and sandals. I then met with a cacao grower from the indigenous village of San Francisco (2 hours further upriver from La Libertad) and discussed how their chocolate production is going. The production of cacao (chocolate) in our village will be similar to what San Francisco is now experiencing. They currently have 10,000 producing trees.
Yesterday I put together the maps. Why maps? And why did I have to put them together rather than buying them?
About a year and a half ago Gustavo, a project supporter and indigenous guide, was leading a group of foreigners from La Libertad to Leticia, through the forest. Gustavo became lost, and what should have been a three-day trip turned into a five-day trip. Since then Gustavo has not received any more request from the tourist industry in Leticia to lead jungle tours. And his river business has also dropped off a bit.
So, in order to help Gustavo I am putting together some maps copied from Google Earth. They were printed in color on adhesive-backed plastic. I then stuck the plastic to some pleather from my friend’s motorcycle shop in Bogota. I tried to buy topographic maps, but I needed special permission from the Colombian military to do so. Google Earth was the easier way to go. The ones I made don’t have all the features of a topo map, but they do have a smaller scale than what is available (about 1:24,000 rather than 1:100,000). I also bought compasses and a used GPS unit for Gustavo to use. Now I just have to teach a few GPS and map-and-compass skills to the villagers!
Tomorrow I will continue to take things easy. I expect to do a bit more blog posting, work on my professional webpage, and may even practice my Spanish a bit. I found out the hard way that it is best to give the body a few days of time to adjust to the heat and humidity before doing too much of almost anything. Dehydration and heat stoke come very quickly to a northerner in the Amazon!