We are so excited to head to Pucallpa. It is the place that feels most like home and where a great many of our Peruvian friends are located. We build here, conduct children’s programs and really come alive. The first 3 days however, we are going to the farm that the church owns and operates. It is a self-sustaining project covering over 600 acres.
Here is a picture of Cindy and I – still looking okay before our boat ride to the farm. It sits on the shore of a tributary that flows into the Ucayuali River in Pucallpa and then off into the Amazon River. The boat ride was good for most part. The difficulty lied in the fact that the boat had to be “balanced.” Cindy and I were asked to sit at the bow to keep it down because of weight of the motor and the other large people that were along for the ride. Hmmm again what were they trying to say about our size – I think the word in spanish is “gordita!”. We sat on a wooden board, that I think was put there randomly to add sitting space. Anyway – it measured 4″ wide by 2′. Okay now seriously, most of you know us and although we have lost weight on this trip, our two bottoms sitting side by side do not comfortably fit in 2 feet of space. And I have space issues anyway!!! To stop body parts from going to sleep, we shifted and turned as smoothly as possible tryin not to flip the tiny, narrow boat that at best was maybe 6 inches off the water’s surface. After about 30 minutes we started counting the seconds until we could get off that boat. Little did we know we had 3 more hours to go! And to top it off, Cindy had to put her finger in a hole in the boat so the water would not rush in……..
Look closely…yes that is a whole potato! A huge boiled potato. And we thought the banana ball in Tarapoto we had for breakfast was bland. This took first prize for lack of taste. On our way to the docks where we would take a 3-1/2 hour boat ride to the farm, Pastor Jennnifer pulled out a boiled potato for each of us (6 in the car) and a hard boiled egg. I laughed so hard when I saw the look on Cindy’s face. It was as if….”what the heck am I suppose to do with this?” Then when she said with a straight face, “I have never seen a boiled potato before.” Say what? How can you have lived your whole life and never seen a boiled potato. Well she can…..As she rolled the potato over and over in her hand she finally asked Jennifer what do you do with this – bite it? Sure enough. Take a bite and enjoy. I loved watching her eat that whole potato. Well the first few bites anyway. Actually it tasted good – with a little salt. The hard boiled egg was welcome protein. Happy to have something to eat beside our staple…cookies!
The previous 7 days it had rain so hard and so continuously that the river level had risen 20 meters and overflowed the banks. None of the locals could remember a time in their lives when the river had crested so high. Houses were either under water or filled with the muddy brown water up to windows and the middle of their homes. The picture above shows where we motored out between the two rows of homes. It was odd to see it when we returned after the water had subsided. A road actually exists there and you motor out from the dock that normally is at the left of the two rows of homes!
We arrived at the farm and fortunately the house was elevated and back away from the river bank so it was fine. Our things were off loaded by throwing them to the kids on shore. Bags of rice and salt we brought weighed 50 kilos – 110 pounds! What once had been the walkway to the house from the river bank was under water and there was no access. What a mess!
Seeing the flooding along the way left me thinking about the people and their possessions. What little they have is now under water and covered in a thick brown mud. What did they do, where did they go to escape this rising water? How did they get their things out – their few possessions? They are no roads – just trails. And it is far from any town. I cannot begin to imagine how they cope – other than they sit and wait it out. Wait for the water to recede. And along the way we saw evidence of that as people were congregated together sitting on the porches of elevated huts and buildings back off the shore.
…and life goes on in His Mighty Grip,