Atlanta: A 4:30 A.M. alarm clock precedes leisurely bowls of cereal as Jonathan, his girlfriend Karen, and I sit around the floor of Karen’s living room in the dark. There’s no electricity. A stomper of a storm rolled through late last night and shook the place up pretty good. No worries, we have our trusty headlamps! Jonathan and I are scheduled to fly to Miami at 7:20. It’s a leisurely twenty-minute drive to the airport and spirits are high in anticipation of getting down to Peru and getting to work. We’re packed up and out the door before 5:00. Some five blocks through the neighborhood we come to an abrupt halt– there’s a rather large tree blocking the entire road and powerlines lying all over the ground. Hmmmm…. No worries, there’s other routes. Two minutes later we’re turning around again– the trees didn’t fare too well last night.
Now, we’re off with a quickness– the primal fear of a missed flight sitting, unspoken, on our chests. Rounding a bend we’re greeted by the lights of a news crew, another downed tree and more powerlines. Oh Joy! One of the reporters comes up to us and before we can ask him how the devil he got INTO the neighborhood and how WE can get OUT he picks up Karen’s accent when she politely greets him. “You’re French!” he exclaims with a big smile. I can’t tell if he has a thing for French girls or if he just smells a story but Jonathan’s having none of it. “We’re going! We’re going!” says Jonathan, motioning to the reporter to move. The reporter points at Karen and glares at Jonathan “She’s friendlier than you are” then turns away. We dive back into the maze of streets, confronted a few blocks later by yet another tree. OK this is starting to get a bit ridiculous!!!
We turn again, drive two minutes and… guess what? A TREE!!! YAAYYYY WE LOVE TREES!!! Jonathan thinks we have a chance with this one though so out he jumps to move the caution tape. Karen drives through and up to the tree while Jonathan moves branches around. He comes back to the car and directs Karen to drive up the curb and onto the sidewalk, around the tree. No dice- Karen doesn’t like it, so Jonathan jumps in the driver’s seat as I run up to direct him.
There’s a damn stump blocking our path, and the trunk of the tree is still in our way. Jon jumps out and together we manage to pivot the tree in such a way that we MAY have enough room to get through. Jon’s back behind the wheel and ready for action. I hold back some branches and shudder as Jonathan revs the engine, up onto the curb, seemingly trying to jump the stump with Karen’s shiny Civic. The car crunches onto the stump and sits there, stuck. (In case anyone was wondering– Honda Civic’s don’t have very good ground clearance!)
Jonathan’s thankfully able to back the car off the stump and I help him realign for a second try. We’re going to take the front right wheel up onto and over the stump. Some deft maneuvering and inspired driving and *Presto* we’ve beaten the stump. Jonathan’s back out of the car again to help me push the tree (It’s about a fifty-footer) further out of the way, then he jumps back in while I grab branches. Next thing I know Jonathan is flat on his back, groaning. The tree has decided that it’s not going down without a fight! A few tense moments and we determine that Jon’s OK but Karen’s looking a bit flustered. I give her a hug and a smile, reassure her that her car’s alright, and we all jump in.
“Wait a minute- my headlamp!” yells Jonathan. The evil tree has stolen Jonathan’s prized headgear and he isn’t inclined to leave it. After a couple of minutes of rustling through branches with no luck we decide that it’s more important to catch our plane (Who knows how many more trees might be waiting for us) then locate a $35 piece of gear, so off we drive.
Karen appears to be a bit upset and drives silently. Jonathan seems afraid that he may have just squashed Karen’s and his relationship just as it was getting going. I’m glad I’m in the back seat– there’s a bit of tension in the air. After a mercifully incident-free 20 minutes we get to the airport and unload. I’m not sure what Karen is thinking but I’m worried about us leaving her on a bad note. Jonathan’s pretty crazy for Karen and he’s really excited about where their relationship might go. I’m super happy for Jonathan– I just met Karen but I can already tell she’s an awesome person and a great fit for my good buddy.
Thankfully, Karen really is as cool as she seemed to me and a quick phone call confirmed that everything was OK. (As most of you know, Jonathan and I can be pretty intense at times and it’s sometimes difficult for people to understand/cope with the wildness.)
So where does this leave us? At the moment Jonathan and I are in Miami waiting out a good ol fashioned thunder-bumper. We met with Dr. Devon Graham (Project Amazonas’s Executive Director) earlier this morning and hammered out some details for the next few months in Peru. Then we ran some errands and caught up with the lovely Carolina from Colombia for lunch. Tonight we fly to Lima where the journey will continue!!
Thank you for coming along on this ride with us!
Also- a big Thank You to our sponsors: Foreign Translations, Immedion, Watershed Cabins, Eloquia, and Nimlok as well as the individual donors who have supported us. We wouldn’t be here without you guys– but with you, we’re about to make some really positive things happen in the Peruvian Amazon!!
Talk to you soon.
One Response to “And So it Begins (AidJoy’s Trip back to the Amazon)”
Jim Ciallella on April 16th, 2011 at 10:57 am:
All that tree action, and not a single photo.