River People, Clinic & Sloth!

Before breakfast, we discovered 34 more birds! Yes, at 6:15am! After breakfast, we took a boat ride to the river village, Ramon Castillo, so we could observe the difference between river people and the traditional Yagua people. River people have a specific piece of land on the river and with our particular visit we were on a tributary of the Amazon, the Manati River. (Four more hours by boat on this river is where our guide Luis is from.)
People were very nice in Ramon Castillo. We noticed 2 different colored flags, each denoting a political party, as a way of campaigning for people's vote in this democracy. Every village has a church, school, soccer field and community house and villages seem to range in size from 500 to 8,000 people. Villages have water tanks with filters so each morning families can collect drinking water. The government put in solar panels and electrical lines per house, and built sidewalks. Majority of the houses, despite being 30 feet above the current river level, are built on stilts. In the rainy season the water will rise at least 30 feet and then they have additional protection from flooding. Yet one house we saw the water line from a past rainy season had it at least 3 feet above their ground floor!
Another boat ride to the privately-funded Yanamono (means black monkey) Clinic, an Amazon medical center supported by OAT's Grand Circle Foundation. An American female doctor began this clinic and works here 6 months and also in Wisconsin 6 months. A Peruvian doctor who grew up in this village learned from the medical doctor, went to medical school, and returned to work here. My fellow travelers and I have information on where one can make donations to support this private clinic, thus no monies come from Peruvian government. The clinic has people from 100 villages coming to it for medical concerns, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, snake bites, asthma, intestinal parasites and one Peruvian doctor also does some dental work! Thanks to a Rotary Club, water tanks and filters have been installed in places so people have less diarrhea. Free services are: family planning, vaccinations and malaria treatment. Through donations to the clinic they can also provide fluoride treatment, shots and multi-vitamins free. For other services, people pay what they can but no one is denied service. Only surgery done here is for machete cuts; if major surgery is needed, the person gets a fast boat ride to the government medical center in Indiana which is about 40 minutes away. We can leave behind any extra antibiotics, toothpaste, other drugs for use in Peru. Most women prefer to have their child at their home with a midwife.
We walked to a huge ceiba tree which can grow up to 150 feet in height and be hundreds of years old. Within its base's thick and woody folds, bats are known to house there with their young. The tree has a long and straight trunk, but it's branches reach almost horizontally. Due to its mythological status, a ceiba tree could be seen untouched in the middle of a cleared field because ancient Mayan people worshipped the ceiba as a connection between Earth and the heavens.
We met a young girl who has a pet sloth! It seems very cute, probably till the time it wishes to mate and then it will take off. Everything is slow about a sloth, even defecating every 2 weeks, but it will go to the ground, dig a hole with its small tail, poop and cover it up.
We then stopped in another village and saw all the usual for a village: church, soccer field, community house and school. At one home we saw how they cook, do their laundry, and sleep (they too use mosquito netting) and welcomed us to some watermelon…delicious! This village has a jail for anyone the police determines under the influence of alcohol and unruly. The person could be in the very small jail 3-4 days and at 6am out to cut the soccer field grass with a machete. Apparently it has curbed people's behavior. Some boys had bicycles, not all with tires on both rims. Many people allowed us to photograph them.
We are now at a resort eco-lodge with AC in each room, and a pool for the site. Many more people are here. OAT purposely chose these 2 different Amazon lodgings for our experience and I am glad they did! No AC, only cold showers, mosquito netting, no fans in our last room will make us think we really are now at the Ritz!
Siesta time now, then 7:30pm dinner, followed by a night walk. Should not be to late because we are up very, very early tomorrow.

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