Dec 27, 2009
I left Leominster at 3:00 pm on Saturday. I didn’t breathe fresh air until 12:00 noon on Sunday. It took three flights, several hours of layover, and a crazy cab ride to get to Center Sachamama, or Casa Sangapilla. Arriving at the final airport in Tarapoto I expected to step outside the plane onto a ramp that led straight to the airport. But when I rounded the corner I stepped on to a staircase that led right down to the tarmac. The fresh air was brilliant and the sun and the warmth made all of the flights and craziness worth while. Outside the airport, there was a slight confusion with the taxi service but it our professor sorted the issues.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no traffic rules in Peru, at least not in Tarapoto or Lamas. The taxi drivers are in a perpetual race with one another, competing with motorcycles, scooters, and pedestrians for their part of the road. It was like being inside Mario Cart. And it was awesome. The town of Lamas reminds me a lot of Rincon, Puerto Rico, where I was two years ago. There are lots of abandoned and dilapidated buildings, stray dogs, and misplaced trash. But the people are all very friendly, smiling, and numerous. I haven’t been downtown to the mestizo part of Lamas yet; we are going tomorrow.
Once off the taxi I stepped into a tropical paradise. Casa Sangapilla is gorgeous. It’s a Disney World resort, it’s a cabin in the woods, it’s a picture-perfect slice of solitude. The main house is beautiful and colorful, with a large balcony on the second floor, which my room looks out on. There are three hammocks hanging from the beams, the best place to sit. The floor and walls are made of clay and sandstone, painted with natural paint from the soil. I’m sharing the room with another girl. We have a good deal of space, nice beds, and some shelving. On the grounds are two separate dorm huts for the guys. There is also the dining tambo, a large pavilion with long tables and a kitchen. Then there is the guard’s house, an extra bathroom, a volley ball court, a giant stone oven, a chicken coop, a rabbit pen, a garden, lots of trees, and just pure natural beauty.
It’s amazing here and I can’t believe it will be our home for three weeks (almost). The food, both lunch and dinner, were amazing. The fruit is so fresh and flavorful. I’ve already eaten several things that I can’t name and have never tried before. We drink fresh fruit smoothies and great coffee. The staff on the casa are natives, many of them with university degrees. Obviously there is a lot of Spanish speaking, everywhere. Within our group of students only one of is fluent but we are all getting by. I tried to speak Spanish in the airport, didn’t work. I wish I brought my laptop.