Overall the food in Peru is pretty tasty, however the regional taste is quite different from other parts of Peru. The reason being is that they mostly live off the land and hunt animals in the jungle and eat the meat or “carne del monte.” We have eaten quite a bit of new foods which Antoinette has blogged and shown pictures of in the past. On my way back from Angoteros last week I had "tortuga" or turtle for the first time. It was in a stew with potatoes and carrots and was quite delicious and served over rice of course. Most meals have white rice as part of the course but I wanted to run through some of the stuff we have eatensince we’ve arrived.
“Pollo regional”, local chicken, the kind that is crowing and wakes you up at 5am, then you eat it for lunch, very good and way better than the steroid, antibiotic filled chicken we eat back home. “Conejo”, rabbit, our friend Lucio who is originally from the south prepped 2 deep fried rabbits as it is their traditional food, they were the tastiest treat yet; although the claws and all were cooked and it looked a little scary. Antoinette had the pleasure of eating “Mahas”, which I’d say like a large guinea pig, some people have them as pets. “Sachavaca” which is a wild pig in the jungle, very tender meat. People do eat monkey further up river and also macaws (Fr. Jack says nothing like a $5000 lunch-which is what they would sell for in the US at a pet store.) There is a variety of fruits and veggies. They have yucca, one of their staple foods, which is a large root veggie similar in appearance and taste to a potato. Carrots, onions, pepino (cucumber), aji (pepper) both picante y dulce (hot and sweet). There is an avocado tree outside our meeting room, but still not quite ripe. Outside of our house is a guava tree and papaya. Overall a neat, new and delicious selection of food, the main thing lacking is green veggies like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, etc because it is too hot and humid, and they get moldy.
24 March 2012
Vaccine campaign to Rio Tambor for three days
Brian pulled out his Nimbus 2000 fishing pole, and our compadres pulled out their fishing line tied to a scrap of wood, and they were off. Brian fell behind in the first 5 minutes when his long cast caused the lure to lodge itself below a sunk branch. "Sacrifice the lure and keep going" he said to himself. We caught small catfish that were quickly thrown aside on the bottom of the boat to be used as bait... I learned later that dinner in the villages sometimes consists of 5 of those little fish, and they are very tasty. Luckily Lucio had the insight to bring some bigger fish (that I learned how to scale and gut) to fry up to feed the six of us, along with a pot of chicken soup.
It’s 7:15 am on Wednesday. I’m on a rapido headed to Iquitos to transport Leopoldo, an 23 month old who swallowed a coin 3 days ago. We sedated him and looked down his throat with a laryngoscope only to discover that the sol had passed into his esophagus. When he awoke, he was active and eating so we sent him home, knowing that most coins will pass without complication. Last night, he returned to the hospital with his grandmother. He had been vomiting and choking for 3 days, and had not been able to keep down food all day. We are worried that he sol (which is slightly bigger than a silver dollar) is still in his esophagus and will need to be removed endoscopically. Being that this is an emergency, I am traveling with them to Iquitos. We will arrive at the port in Mazan in 5 hours, then take a mototaxi for 15 minutes to a port on the opposite side of Mazan, where we will get on another boat for 45 minutes to reach the Mercado de Productos in Iquitos. There, either our nurse or an ambulance will be waiting for little Leopoldo. This morning he looked much more content and was eating crackers and drinking coke... and then the vomiting started again.
I am writing my first blog in a while and I have much to talk about so I think I will divide it into 2 or 3 entries. I am typing this from the back of the hospital boat as I head up river for the next 5 days. I will be working in a small native community called Angoteros. They have a small clinic or Posta de Salud. I am going to relieve our other Peruvian doc, Juan Jon who has been up there for 3 weeks. He is going to head further north to the border with Ecuador and work a few days at the Centro de Salud de Pantoja. On his way back down the boat will pick me up and we’ll all head back to Santa Clotilde. I am both excited and nervous. I will be there pretty much alone. There is a technico de salud , a laboratoristo (lab tech) and a midwife in Angoteros as well, but I think the technico will be heading to Pantoja for their short trip. So that leaves me, myself and I as the health care worker. Thank God there is a midwife because I still don’t have even close to adequate skills as an Ob/Gyn, but I am reluctantly learning more each week. My Spanish is getting better, but it won’t help me much in Angoteros as this is a native community and most speak Kichwa. I would love to take pictures and send them, but I broke our camera about 3 weeks ago.
I went to the Arumisha (a-room-eee-shaw) to celebrate Carnavale. The arumisha is a palm tree that is decorated with ornaments and all day long people dance around the tree and sing and throw water on each other and smear dirt or colored dye on each other …..oh and they drink. I went and as I arrived so did the rain, but that did not stop the party it just added to the fun. We passed around the beer, sang and danced. I had the camara in my pocket, and I thought I was clever enough by putting it in a plastic bag before I left home. However, I was not smart enough to ensure it was completely sealed and it got ruined. I don’t know why I was initially surprised that it got wet, we are living in the middle of the rain forest.
Although Carnevale is widely celebrated in town with each neighborhood having an arumisha over the course of several weeks in February, I was quite surprised to find that this community is not as religious as I had expected. In talking with Lucio, our one officially registered nurse who is from the south near Cusco, he said the people in the north and here on the Napo River and not very religious (Catholic or otherwise) like in other parts of Peru. They do live off the land, but I was expecting more respect for the land like we see in our Native American culture, maybe I’ll see more when I go to the communities. However although the church is not overflowing on Sundays the services are nice and Fr. Jack is not only a great doctor he gives fantastic sermons that are relative to the conditions and ongoing struggles on the river and in daily life as it relates to the readings. The church is an impressive work of architecture in my mind. It was built I believe in the 1950s when a group of volunteers came from a Canadian farm community (as there was a group of Canadian nuns working in Santa Clotilde) and the town needed a church, so what did they build? A barn of course! The arches for the ceiling probably go up 50-60 feet and it was solidly built as it still looks great today. We have been on the boat 3 hours now, I am gonna enjoy the view, only 2 more hours to go before we hit Angoteros.