"Dawn on the Amazon delivering school supplies"

Marmelita delivering school supplies to the teacher of the river village school in Mishana.

If you are planning to travel to Iquitos Peru for an Amazon River cruise or to stay at a lodge, or even just to visit for a day, and you want to help children in need, you can make a big difference in the lives of the children who live in the remote villages along the rivers you will visit.

In theory, education in Peru is free from age 7 – 16, however in practice education is poorly financed and inaccessible in rural areas such as the villages along the rivers in the Amazon jungle.

Every small village is guaranteed by the federal government to have at least a one room school house and a teacher. However the Ministry of Education lacks the resources, or the will, to provide educational material for the teachers and students of the jungle schools.

This is where you come in. Compared to the resources available in a small remote jungle village, you are a billionaire. If you packed a shoebox full of school supplies chosen from the list below, to leave with the teacher of the school when you visit a village, you can make a big impact on the lives of children in the Amazon jungle. Five pounds of supplies will go a long way. Multiply that by many tourists bringing a shoebox full of supplies and we can make many children’s lives better, and who knows how much we can change the world…

School supplies

  • pencils with rubber eraser tops
  • colored pencils
  • crayons
  • coloring books
  • individual pencil sharpeners
  • pens
  • notebooks
  • scissors
  • world map
  • Peru map
  • Loreto map
  • solar powered calculators
  • classroom posters in spanish, (biology, math, astronomy, human body, language)
  • flash cards, (math)
  • flash cards, (alphabet spanish)
  • puzzles
  • rulers, metric
  • measuring tape, metric
  • stickers
  • art supplies
  • craft supplies
  • books in spanish, children’s storybooks, language, learning to read books, literature, parenting, and science
  • glue sticks

First aid supplies

  • bandages
  • bandaids
  • alcohol wipes
  • antibiotic ointment
  • aspirin
  • stingez

Clothes

  • Friends of mine go to yard sales all summer and accumulate a suit case full of children’s clothes to bring to the jungle children.
  • children size flip flops

Sports

  • soccer balls
  • volley balls and nets
  • rubber balls

Hygiene

  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • combs
  • brushes

Games

  • Scrabble
  • Connect Four
  • Dominoes
  • Bananagrams
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Decks of cards
  • Backgammon
  • marbles
  • tops

If you speak Spanish, or hire a guide, and come a day or two early, most of the items on this list can be purchased in Iquitos which would help the economy even more.

For more ideas and inspiration click on this link;

Pack For A Purpose, small space, little effort, big impact;

A special thanks to my friends at Conapac, who have been doing good work in the Amazon Rainforest for 24 years.

Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises has delivered supplies to villages and schools for over 11 years.

"School supplies in a jungle village"

Each student got some version of this care package.

I must mention the wonderful work done by my friends and peers, Patty Webster through Amazon Promise, Albert Slugocki, Devon Graham and Don Dean with Project Amazonas, Bill and Karla Park with Eco-ola and  Acaté. I realize there are dozens or probably 100s of NGOs, missionaries, tour companies, and individuals donating their time, labor, and money to do good work in the upper Amazon. I apologize for not mentioning you all by name. Please leave a comment and tell us all about your project.

"Student with Inflatable globe"

A student inflating a world globe. Where are you from?

How You Can Help The Children

Bill Grimes is president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises;

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Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve

"Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, 3 pound black piranha"

3 pound black piranha caught in Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, with Dawn on the Amazon

While most people in Iquitos are infatuated with Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, one of my favorite places on God’s green earth is up the Nanay River into Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve. Some of the most precious outdoor memories of my life are from there, including one of the best days fishing I have ever had.

You can Google Allphauayo Mishana and learn about the rare geology of the white-sand forest, its amazing bio-diversity, and the many endemic species of birds. This story is about my friends’ and my personal experiences in this wonderland of nature.

Only once in my life have I seen as many as ten or 12 black-collared hawks repeatedly swooping down only a few meters in front of our boat catching bright silver-colored fish in their talons. We cut back our motor and our boat drifted downstream on the Nanay River, with the entire school of fish in front of us, as that bird watchers’ dream scene played out over and over.

A few nights in Allpahuayo Mishana have been memorable. Once after the boat was tied to shore, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and as we were settling down for the night, a pod of pink dolphins chose to  join us and enjoy their dinner of fish close by. The sound they make when they surface to breath, a forceful exhalation of air to clear their blow hole, kept me awake late in the night. Early in the morning a family of duski titi monkeys woke me. The concept of a “quiet jungle” is only in books and Disney movies.

In September and October when the water is low, most of our Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises go to Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve. The Nanay River always has a navigable channel that meanders through the rainforest, past dozens of ox-bow lakes full of fish. The tranquil black water reflects the clouds and trees; the lovely white sand beaches are just waiting to be waded.

One of the couples that was on our most recent cruise told me that it was the best experience of all their travels through South America. They loved our crew and the boat, the food was delicious and they got to see the amazing bio-diversity of Allpahuayo Mishana with their own eyes.

Our head guide Billy, boat pilot Edson, and cook Filo remarked on what they saw on this cruise which included a capybara swimming in the river, a group of four coatis, (in the raccoon family), foraging on the forest floor, saddle-backed tamarins, squirrel monkeys, duski titi monkeys, night monkeys, a two toed sloth, a three toed sloth, two kinkajous, many pink and gray dolphins, and two species of bats.

A fer de lance was sunning on the trail, (carefully moved off the path with a long forked stick), and two red backed poison dart frogs, an iguana, and a tree runner lizard were all observed.

Among the interesting birds they spotted were ospreys soaring, a blue coatinga, white-throated toucans, many-banded aracaris, wire-tailed manakins, screaming piha, (the signature sound of the Amazon), yellow-headed caracaras, black caracaras, and a couple of road-side hawks.

Among the more amazing insects were izula ants, (one of the most painful stings in the jungle), walking sticks, praying mantis, four tarantulas, tailless whip scorpions, and countless colorful butterflies. The fishermen caught two species of piranhas, (one weighed a kilo and a half), peacock bass and other ciclids and  a couple of nice catfish, which were all released.

Strangler figs were strangling, bromeliads were blooming, vines were climbing, there were many medicinal plants, orchids, and giant trees.

Another advantage to cruising into Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, there are not as many  mosquitoes as in the other nature reserve, or any other place I know in the upper Amazon.

Cruising downstream once in Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve our riverboat was escorted by a migratory flock of hundreds of American swallow-tailed kites. Our passage was stirring up a large number of dragonflies that the gracefully soaring kites were feeding on in mid-air.

On another cruise I had one of my best fishing days. I only caught three Peacock Bass but fought several big toothy fasacos, or wolf fish. I caught five of the largest fasacos I ever caught on six casts. I was right in the middle of a feeding frenzy. At the end of the day I was completely exhausted and in love with the Allphauayo Mishana National Reserve.

The Other National Reserve, Allpahuayo Mishana

Bill Grimes is president of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises;

Click the links below to know that the team at Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises are the experts on Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve;

Here Is What Happened On Our Amazon River Boat Cruise;

The Real Live Dawn on the Amazon Cruises In Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve;

Allpahuayo Mishana, It Ain’t Disneyland;

Dream Trip Come True;

Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve Revisited;

Why Does The Sloth Swim Across The River?;

Our Expedition On The Restored Rubber Boom Era Boat, The Ayapua;

Our Trip To Iquitos Peru;

The Bats of Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, and How They Could Benefit You;

Into The Heart Of Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve;

Into The Heart Of Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve, Part Two;

Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve;

Lost on the Amazon;

The Story of Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve;

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Guest post by Leo Jones

That’s the threat my Brit buddy throws at me in the thickest Cockney accent you’ll hear this side of Liverpool, England. Dave makes the comment as I enter the Amazon Golf clubhouse the other day. Located smack dab in the middle of the Peruvian jungle—a thousand miles from the Peruvian capitol of Lima as the eagle flies—the Amazon Golf Course is the most isolated golf course in the world.

“Yeah … well. I guess we’ll have to see about that,” I reply, trying hard to sound confident.

“When was the last time you beat me?” he asks, smirking.

“I’ve never beat you, you know that. But today just might be the first time.”

He roars with laughter.

“Are you going to practice first, Senor Leo?” The question comes from eighteen year old Isabel, the attractive local woman who mans (or is it woman’s) the desk in the clubhouse.

“Don’t need to practice to beat this guy,” I say, regretting the comment as soon as it passes my lips.

“What about you, Senor Dave?” she asks him. “Do you …”

“As old as Leo is,” he says, grinning at Isabel, “I’d be stealing if I practiced.”

I thrust my index finger at the side of my head and make a circling motion. “Ignore him, Isabel. He’s just another crazy gringo.” Then I sling my golf bag over my shoulder. Carefully making my way down the steps, I stroll over to the first tee. It’s another beautiful day in Iquitos, Peru. The jungle sun is nine O’clock high and huge puffy white clouds wander aimlessly below the bluest sky you’ll ever see.

After five minutes of attempting to limber up my 80 year old body—something that’s becoming more and more difficult with each passing year—I call out to Dave, “You gonna spend the whole morning flirting with Isabel? Or are you gonna play golf?”

Actually I don’t blame him for flirting with Isabel. Girls in this jungle town mature early physically, and she’s no exception. She likes to show off her curvy figure by wearing her pink blouse and cutoff blue jeans as tightly as she can. If she dyed her long black hair blonde, she’d look like a sun-tanned version of the cute blonde in the television show, “The Dukes of Hazard.”

Soon Dave struts out of the clubhouse. Fifty years old, he’s one of the more interesting expats in town. A close friend of one of our mutual friends, Mike Collis—the founder of the Amazon Golf Course—Dave is the only gringo motorcar driver in town. Standing a tad over six feet, he’s built like a NFL linebacker. He’s the kind of guy if you ever get into a brawl, you’d want him on your side. “You want me to go first?” he asks.

I step aside and wave my hand toward the first green a hundred and twenty yards away. “Show me the way, Tiger.”

For a big man, he’s very agile. After two practice swings, he sends his ball into the sun, where it eventually lands softly on the edge of the green. Suppressing a grin, he exclaims, “Your turn, old timer.”

I take out a seven iron. “Hit the ball smoothly”, I tell myself as I stand over the ball. My backswing is nice and smooth, but when the face of the club approaches the ball it speeds up—and I hook the ball into waist-high vegetation fifty feet or so to the left of the green. Unwritten course rules allows each golfer one Mulligan for every nine holes. So I stick the seven iron back into the bag and take out an eight iron. My goal this time is to keep the ball in the narrow fairway. A smooth follow through this time launches the ball some twenty feet this side of the green. I send my second shot ten feet from the hole and need two putts to end up with a bogie.

Dave pars the hole.

After we finish the first hole, Dave is ahead by a stroke. “Don’t panic,’ I tell myself. “Stick to your plan.”My strategy is to stay within a few strokes until the beers Dave had drank before I arrived takes their toll—and the jungle sun starts wearing this big man down. We were supposed to have teed off at nine. I didn’t arrive until ten for a good reason. Like most Brits I know, Dave is fond of beer. While waiting for my arrival he’d drank two beers. Peruvian beer is twice as strong as Budweiser or Miller. According to my calculation, he’ll be sweating profusely by the time we tee off for the eighth hole.

The second green is 275 yards long. I’d planned on using a driver rather than a long iron. There are two hazards in this fairway: a small oval-shaped lake golfers have nicknamed Alligator Lake located 150 yards from the tee and a tiny stream zigzagging across the fairway in front of the green. Not yet warmed up enough, I slice my ball into the lake. Then, to make matters worse, I stub my second shot, dribbling my ball into the stream.

Dave pars this hole while I double-bogey it.

We’ve only played two holes and I’m already down three strokes.

I catch a break on the third hole when Dave dumps his second shot into the stream. But I do the same. And both of us double- bogey the hole.

I’ll gain a stroke on the next hole, I convince myself.

The fourth hole is only 100 yards long. But this green is a tiny oval-shaped island. And it’s surrounded by a Piranha-infested waist-high moat half full of wayward golf balls no one has been brave enough to retrieve. To be on the safe side, I take out my wedge and hit the ball ten yards this side of the moat. Normally, that’s good strategy. Not today. Feeling his oats, Dave whips out his nine iron and strikes his ball like he’s kissing Isabel. I groan as I watch the ball land a dozen yards from the flag stick. My second shot lands next to his ball.

I feel like shoving him into the water as we cross the tiny wooden bridge that leads us onto the green. It takes two strokes for both of us to sink our balls. We’ve played four holes and I’m down four strokes.

But I’m sticking to my plan.

As we approach the fifth tee I glance up at the Heavens. I mumble, “Come on, you’ve got to help me beat this guy.”

A confident smile creasing his beefy face, he asks, “What’s that, old man?”

“Oh, nothing.”

During the next three holes I remain four strokes behind him. I had hoped to gain a stroke on the seventh hole. A 500 yard par five, you have to avoid two meandering streams and the left side of Alligator Lake. This time both of us plop our balls into Alligator Lake. (There’s something about my golf balls that’s attracted to water). By the time we’d sunk our putts we’d both double-bogeyed  this hole.

As we hike toward the eighth tee– which is located 20 or so yards below the clubhouse—I glance over at Dave. He’s sweating profusely. But not enough. “I could use something cold to drink,” I say, licking my lips. “What about you?”

“I’m good,” he replies, taking a now sopping wet handkerchief from his pocket and mopping his brow.

I nod at Isabel standing in the clubhouse doorway. “I’m buying, Dave,” I say.

That gets his attention. “In that case, mate, let’s do it.”

“A bottle of water for me and a cold beer for my friend,” I call out to Isabel.

We drop down under the shade the tin roof of the rectangular-shaped structure used to provide shade when we’re practicing our shots—a poor man’s version of a Driving Range shelter.

A minute later Isabel prances down to us. After handing us our drinks, she asks in a seductive voice, “Anything else?”

We say that’s  all, and she sashays back to the clubhouse. Gulping down half the bottle in one swallow, Dave keeps his eyes on her until she disappears inside the house.

I drink from my bottle and say, “Ready?”

“I still have half a bottle left,” he complains.

I glance up at the sky. The sun is trying to hide behind some clouds. “Looks like it’s gonna rain soon, Dave,” I fib.

Standing, he gulps down the rest of his beer. “Let’s get this butt whipping over with, old timer.”

The eighth and ninth holes fairways are divided by a long row of coconut and palm trees planted some four or five years ago. It’s almost impossible to hit your ball out of bounds on the eighth hole. So both of us use drivers. Dave splits the fairway with a 200 yard drive. I knock my ball fifty yards short of his. This hole is a 360 yards par four. The only obstacle is a three foot deep water hazard called Anaconda Lagoon.

I’ve got to be honest with you, dear reader. I’m fairly confident there has not been an alligator spotted in Alligator Lake for years, and, though locals insist there really are piranhas in the moat surrounding the third green, I can’t swear there are any still there. But I know for a fact there used to be an anaconda in Anaconda Lagoon. My friend, Mike Collis, and I were there when a half dozen locals corralled this reptile while the golf course was being constructed some ten years ago.

At any rate, no one has ever tried to retrieve a ball hit into the  lagoon. Wisely, I take out an eight iron and lay up ten yards short of the water. Dave gives me a look that says, “What a wimp!” Then he proceeds to take out a five iron and swing mightily. Topping the ball, he sends it dribbling into the lagoon. “Mulligan time,” he exclaims. Wiping sweat from his face and neck, he uses a six iron, sending the ball into a water hazard on the other side of the hole.

With a pitching wedge, I hit the ball three feet from the hole. When we finish the eighth hole I’m only two strokes back. I stifle a grin as we head for the ninth tee. “Come on sun,” I mumble.

The ninth hole is 375 yards away. The only hazards are the left side of Anaconda Lagoon and a sand trap on the left side of the fairway 200 yards away. I use a driver and place my shot 155 yards in the middle of the fairway. Sweat dripping from every pore, Dave tops his ball and drives it into Anaconda Lagoon. Trying to make up for the mistake, he swings as hard as he can, sending his ball into the bunker. To compound this error, he tries to hit his ball out of the sand with a three iron. The ball catches the lip of the bunker and rolls some fifty yards toward the green.

Now we’re even.

Minutes later both of our balls are on the green. He’s huffing and puffing by the time we finally reach the green.  His ball sits 10 feet above the hole. My ball is 15 feet below the hole. This oval-shaped green slopes downward at a severe angle—so I can afford to be aggressive. I take out my putter and stand over the ball. Just to aggravate him, I start to shake like I’ve lost a grip on my nerves.

Dave isn’t amused. “Just hit the damn ball, old man.”

I give the ball a nice smooth stroke. It scoots upward like a magnet is drawing it toward the hole. It stops at the edge of the hole. Dave let’s out a sigh of relief as I reach for my putter. Then something strange happens.

The ball drops into the hole.

“All right!” I yell, giving a geriatric version of Tiger Woods pumping his fist into the air.

The noise brings Isabel out of the clubhouse. It also awakes the mongrel dog that guards the place at night out from under the shade of the house. Both wander down to check on the commotion. “Who is winning?” Isabel asks.

Dave takes out his handkerchief and mops his brow. “Leo will win if I don’t sink this putt,” he grumbles.

“Yeah, Senor Leo,” she says.

Dave had been studying his putt. “Will you be quiet,” he exclaims. Then, noticing the hurt look on her face, he adds in a softer voice, “Please.”

Smiling, she makes a zipping motion across her lips.

After several tenable practice putts, Dave looks over at me. “What do you think, Leo?”

“I think you’d better make this putt.” Then I quickly add, “Whipper-Snapper.”

Finally, he strokes the ball. It rolls confidentially toward the hole. Then, inches away from dropping into the hole, it veers to the right. “Oh, well,” I say, grinning, “you can’t win them all.”

Minutes later we’re sitting in the second floor of the clubhouse. Dave is drinking another beer and I’m nursing a Coca Cola as we gaze out across the golf course. Two things occupy my mind. I recall Mike Collis and I scouting this location for the possible site of a golf course a dozen years ago. It was a dense jungle back then. But Mike didn’t see it as a jungle. He visualized it as a golf course. And now it is.

The other thought occupying my mind is this: Beating a man thirty years my junior sure feels good.

I’m gonna beat your butt, old timer!

Guest post by Leo Jones

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Cattleya Amazon River Cruise Boat, The Facts

"Cattleya Amazon River boat with crew"

Cattleya Amazon River boat with crew

Cattleya was constructed in 2013  with 6 comfortable air conditioned cabins, in-suite bathrooms, warm water showers, featuring picture window views. The Cattleya Amazon river cruise boat has a capacity for 12 passengers and a crew of 8 to 12, including 2 knowledgeable naturalist guides fluent in english and spanish.

"Cattleya Amazon River Cruise Boat"

Cattleya, one of the most beautiful, comfortable, Amazon River cruise boats

The Cattleya is 75.5 feet = 23 meters long, the beam is 19.7 feet = 6 meters wide, draft is 6.5 feet = 2 meters deep. With a 185 hp caterpillar engine she cruises at 16 knots. The caterpillar 48 KW encapsulated generator provides power for the 220/110 volt electrical system. Communication is by UHF and VHF radios, and by satellite phone.

"Cattleya dinning room"

Cattleya dinning room with a view

All enclosed areas of the Cattleya are air conditioned, including all cabins, the dinning room, lounge, bar, and even the crews quarters.

"Cattleya gourmet"

Cattleya gourmet

Cattleya has an on board chef who creates delicious Peruvian cuisine so beautifully presented that you may want to take a photo before you enjoy your meal.

"Comfortable cabins"

Comfortable cabins

The Cattleya cabins have king size beds, bed side tables and lamps, air conditioning, mirrors, comfortable pillows, sheets, blankets, organic bathroom accessories,bathrobes, towels, electric plugins for 110/220 volts, shower, hot water, safe deposit boxes, and minibar.

"Cattleya skiff"

One of the two skiffs used for expeditions from the Cattleya cruise ship.

Cattleya cruises with two skiffs powered by 60hp mercury outboards, with capacity of 8 – 10 passengers, guide, and boat pilot, for excursions into small streams and lakes where larger boats can not go, for birdwatching, looking for pink dolphins, to trailheads for jungle hikes, fishing, visiting native villages, and swimming.

"Cattleya expedition boat in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve"

Cattleya expedition boat in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

The Cattleya destination is Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a vast wetland harboring one of the most bio-diverse eco-systems on earth.

To book your cruise, email me   bill@dawnontheamazon.com

You can choose cruises of 7 nights from Sunday to Sunday,  4 nights from Sundays to Thursdays, or 3 nights from Thursdays to Sundays.

Cattleya, For Your Comfortable Amazon River Cruise

Bill Grimes, President of Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, and the Amazon Explorers Club.

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Tourist Police

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Bo Keeley

“We are here 24 hours a day, every day of the year to help tourists in Iquitos.”

I’ve found it’s true. The Iquitos Tourist Police have helped me out of about a dozen legitimate jams in the past 15 years. Ex-pat may also ask for help anytime.

Their station is at 834 Sargento Lores near Plaza de Armas and the station phone day and night is 24-2081 or (51 94) 23-7067.

Some examples of things you may request, as I have in the past to satisfaction are:

Pursue a pickpocket, Extract me from a locked hotel, Trace a malecon thief, Dennucia, And today to give a tongue lashing to a shortchanging senora who tried to beat me with a broomstick.

The tourist police are the good guys (and ladies) who wear white shirts and wear white holsters. They are a specifically trained body of the National Police charged with the security, protection and orientation of tourists. Some speak cautious English but they can always call an officer who speaks better. They’re located walking and on motorcycles in the tourist environment around Plaza de Armas, the malecon, nice hotels, and wherever tourists are found.

Tourist Police Iquitos

Guest post by Bo Keeley, author of Executive Hobo, Riding the American Dream; available on Amazon.com.

Hi, Bill Grimes here. As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises,  or the Captain’s Blog.

To learn more about Iquitos from Bo Keeley, click the links below;

Try My Dentist for Tourists in Iquitos;

Iquitos Doctor;

Iquitos Top 3 Restaurants;

Internet Recommendations In Iquitos;

The Gang At Dog Corner;

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