Now let me see, where was I? I had to interrupt my first email because Crystal and I came back to our room yesterday afternoon and after both of us having showers we were still sweating like pigs and couldn’t figure out why. Turns out our air conditioner was broken! (That explains the strange popping noises it was making all through the night before – I slept with one eye open praying that it wouldn’t burst into flames at any moment!
I believe I left off at our La Paz departure – we left around mid morning on a plane that seated about 24 people, one person on each side of the aisle, and you had to walk completely bent over to get to your seat. I was very thankful that they did not charge me anything extra for my bag, which was 2 pounds over. However, they did make me go with this man from the airport who took me outside to where the plane was parked, and then through several doorways until we got to this little room where they processed the baggage. Apparently they had seen a couple of things in there that intrigued them and they wanted to check it out (I’m guessing it was my portable table top fan!) Actually it was the two cans of mosquito repellent that I had, one of which was flammable, and they would not let me take it on the plane (I also lost my finger nail file in Lima.) The other can that they let me bring now does not spray anything, so my mosquito repelling tactics totally failed! Actually, I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of mosquitos since being here, but there are definitely lots of little black flies around of some description, and we are all covered in bug bites. They have these tiny little ants too that sting like crazy when they bite.
We flew over the big, snow capped mountains that surrounded La Paz and were in the air for about an hour before landing in a place called Trinidad. One small landing strip, and a small building that we walked into, went down the hall and then out another door onto an even smaller twin prop plane than we were on before. I believe it seated about 15 people, and I could barely squeeze my knees between the seats! We could see the pilot and co-pilot right in front of our seats, and as soon as we were airborne the pilot put up a sunshield in the window to keep out the sun and proceeded to have a nice chat with the co-pilot. I dunno, I think I’d rather not see what my pilot is doing (or not doing) while he is flying my plane!
We flew for another hour or so, and it kept getting warmer and warmer, until finally we saw this one lone little airstrip out in the middle of a field and we knew that we had arrived in Guayaramerin. (I still can’t believe that I flew on one of those little planes!) We made our way over to the terminal, which consisted of a few benches under an open air awning, with a couple of little girls selling chewing gum at the side, and a guy sitting at the Aero Con desk with a light that was run by a generator. (The control tower was not much bigger than a lifeguard stand, and had a hammock strung up underneath. Toto, we ain’t in Kansas anymore!) There were a couple of taxis parked under a tree, and a handful of people around, none of which seemed to be our host, Gustavo. Mark dug out his contact information to give Gus a call on his cell phone, only to discover that the cell phone number that he had was an American one in Colorado. We then proceeded to the Aero Con desk to find out if we could use their phone to call the hotel. The whole trip Mark has been saying to me “Kellie, come here, I need your mouth!” I managed to convey the information to the young man, who kindly let us use his telephone, but when Mark dialed the number for the hotel he got this man on the other end that Mark couldn’t understand at all. Mark hands the phone to me and I discover that we have been given the wrong number for the hotel. The man keeps saying to me “this is not the San Carlos hotel!” One of the men there looked through this little phone directory and managed to find the number for the hotel, and thankfully when I called them they knew who we were and were expecting us! We then had to make arrangements with the taxis that were under the trees, and it took three cars to get us all to the hotel. Gus was waiting for us in the hotel lobby, and was extremely apologetic and told us that he had gotten the days mixed up and was not expecting us until the next day. He said that the lady at the front desk told him that someone had just called and said that they were the group from Canada and were waiting at the airport. So, my Spanish came in handy after all!
We quickly got settled into our rooms and Gus took us to see the mechanic who is building the motor for the boat (in his backyard by the way), and then down to the boat site to see the boat, which consists of just the hull at this point. The name of the boat we are building is the "Genesis" - appropriate don't you think? This is a picture of our boat taken from Michael Lowe's travel log, check out his entries and pictures of our team. There are some Bolivian men building a boat next to us and it is for Samaritan's Purse - we were really excited to hear that, and today we helped them with some of the work on it. too cool.It is a beautiful spot where the boat is located, with big trees overhead to provide much needed shade. The sun was just going down on the river (it goes down around six o’clock here, which is a blessing because it provides much needed relief from the heat.) We then went to find a restaurant for supper, which was actually a bit of a chore because Brazil was playing soccer that day and hardly anyone was working! We finally found one and had some delicious chicken and rice for supper that everyone enjoyed. We then proceeded to the church where the pastor was doing a bible study with some ladies and sat in on that for a while. After that, we collected up some various tools from the pastor’s house and made our way back to the hotel. We were all glad to drop into our beds that night for sure. It was an eventful day all around.
Yesterday morning we met for breakfast outside around the pool area at seven a.m. Thankfully the pool has water in it (apparently sometimes it doesn’t) but we’ve been too busy to try it out! We then went to the boat around 7:30. The mornings are actually quite beautiful around here, but it doesn’t take long for that tropical sun to burn away any of the coolness that was in the air. The first thing that we had to do was clean out all of the leaves and dirt that had gathered in the bottom of the boat, because it will have to be coated in oil to preserve the wood from bugs etc. Trying to find a broom was a chore, and we ended up using some pretty primitive tools, but we managed to get the job done!
The guys then spent the rest of the day putting posts across the boat for the floor to be built on. Again, they amaze me with the things they can do, and I didn’t have a clue what half of the stuff was that they were talking about. But by the end of the day we had beams going all the way up the boat, and can now proceed with the oiling and building a box for the engine to be housed in.
Gus took us to supper last night at this lady’s house where we sat outside at a big table and she served us fried eggs and plantains. The plantains tasted better than I thought they would, but I can’t say I’m a big fan. I so wish I could send pictures now because the way we get around is on these things called motorcars, which consist of a motorcycle with three seats going across the back. It kind’ve reminds me of India, but I have to tell you it’s the way to travel because the breeze is glorious. There are motorcycles EVERYWHERE, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what side of the road they use, they just drive, and somehow it all seems to work out!
We have just about completed the second day of work on the boat, and it is so exciting to see it starting to come together. I usually make it until about mid afternoon and then I find the heat just too much, but the men on the team are machines! Seriously, they amaze me with the work they can do. It was a bit cooler today – they figure it was around 100 degrees yesterday afternoon, but this morning was actually beautiful, with a delicious breeze coming in off of the river.
We had to move a big pile of boards to another area so that they could be taken somewhere to be planed. Heather and I were working together, and I told her to make sure she turned the boards over before we picked them up. Sure enough, she turned a board over and there was a big, fat hairy brown spider, which Stan quickly dispensed of. One of the men who is working on another boat there said that it was actually a small one, that they are usually the size of your hand! Glad we only ran into the baby one.
We then had to started collecting sticks and wood so that we could build a fire to “cook” the oil on. Mark build a handy dandy little fire pit from bricks, and we filled a big metal can with motor oil and heated it until it was boiled. It then had to cool down so that the sediment could settle on the bottom, and then it could be applied to the boat.
Our motorcars arrived at lunch time and we returned to the lady’s house which turns out is a café that she runs from her home.
Stay tuned to hear about the 3 foot Iguana that feel out of the tree beside us!