Bienvenido a la Selva!
Arriving to the jungle!
Our plane to Iquitos, Peru descended for landing amongst the lush jungle foliage, the snaking waters of the Amazon River, and finally the quiet city of Iquitos. For the next three weeks, I would be living in the city, working with Amazon CARES, a non-profit organization dedicated to animal rescue in the Peruvian Amazon Region.
As a third year veterinary medical student, my goal in mind with this summer trip was not only to help an organization whose mission I felt passionate about, but also to experience veterinary medicine within a different culture, gain new perspectives on how to address animal welfare issues, and as always to gain as much veterinary knowledge as I could from the talented veterinary staff as possible.
While I had been in communication with the Executive Director of the organization, Manuela Rodrigues, I wasn’t 100% sure what all we would be doing. I had learned that Amazon CARES was founded in 2004 and that is the only organization in the Amazon to have a no-kill shelter for the animals. I had been following the Amazon CARES Facebook page for a while, so I’d gotten a rough idea of the quantity of stray animals that come into the clinic each day and the types of illness and injury we might see. I was anticipating to encounter many differences between the resources available in the clinics I’ve worked with in the United States vs. clinics in Iquitos, and was very curious to see how the team worked to overcome these challenges. Manuela had mentioned that we would be helping with a spay and neuter campaign for street cats, which I was excited to learn more about!
Upon stepping out of the air-conditioned airplane into the thick humidity of the jungle, we found our backpacks and wandered out of the airport. My classmate Sydney Young and I immediately were welcomed by Ann Owen, a longtime volunteer for Amazon CARES, and Carlos, who would assist us in getting all our belongings to our hostel via mototaxi. Our first moto ride was so exciting! The roads were packed with other people zooming by on their own motos, and I got the impression that there were fewer traffic laws than in the US by observing everyone weaving in and out of traffic and speeding ahead. I was so excited we were FINALLY in Iquitos and couldn’t wait for the experience this beautiful city had in store for us!
Written by Sarita Patel, Amazon CARES Volunteer