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Maria's three-month experience in the jungle of Iquitos

Maria's three-month experience in the jungle of Iquitos

Maria's three-month experience in the jungle of Iquitos

To travel in solidarity to discover parts of yourself that you don't know, to reconnect with yourself, with your values and to get to know realities that are distant to you but with which you have always felt interest and pain in equal parts.

Taking the plunge changes many things in you, the way you see the world, how you deal with a problem, how you take different situations philosophically or how you feel grateful for everything you have around you. This is exactly what happened to Maria during her three months volunteering in the jungle of Iquitos. A few days ago she sent us her experience and we are still touched by every line. It's amazing how a solidarity trip can be transformative, as long as you are connected to the purpose of this adventure.

Do you want to know how he lived? Read on to find out all the details 😊


Why did you decide to make a solidarity trip to Peru?

For a long time now, I have wanted to go on a solidarity trip, as Tumaini knows very well. Then covid came along, turned my life upside down and my plans were turned upside down. After everything "normalised", it coincided with the fact that I had just finished my degree, I didn't really know what to do, but I wanted to test myself a bit, get out of my comfort zone, get to know people and the world but in more depth, and I also wanted to do it on my own, to see how I could manage.

That in particular it was to Peru It was a bit of a destiny thing, because it wasn't my initial idea, so I didn't know much about the country or its customs. But the truth is that I'm almost glad it was like that, because a great advantage was that I didn't have the language barrier, and it helps you get used to it sooner, establish more connections, not only with the people of the community but also, for example, in the means of transport, get to know much better because the conversation was more fluid... What was clear to me when I was choosing my destination was that I wanted it to be totally different from Madrid, and in the end where I went, well, it was! There must be 300 people living in the community and it is surrounded by nature, the environment is paradise. And the project combined two things that I wanted: it was with people, and there is as much fauna and flora as you could wish for.


What has it been like to discover a completely new country, culture and way of life for you?

At first it was shocking, their way of life is completely different from ours, and in the volunteer house you live like them, which is great, you understand everything much better. And we did have drinking water, jerry cans with rainwater so that you could take a shower with clean water, gas for cooking...

Sometimes it could also be frustrating, for example in terms of inequalities, injustices, or for me in particular it was hard to see how it could be that, having such a great connection with nature in their daily lives, they would throw rubbish on the ground or in the river as if it was nothing, whatever it was.
Impotence, because of the incompetence of some people in authority in the country who do not know the realities of their people, or of professionals, who would like nothing less than to have a decent health system.
So, living an experience like this teaches you to try to assimilate those feelings, and to understand that you are not going to be able to change all that reality, but if you make them rethink things, or show that there is another way of doing it, even if it is only for a moment, you are already making a contribution. And I think that anyone who immerses themselves culturally in a country as you do in volunteering will tell you that it is enriching.


What have been your tasks in the free education project in the community of Santa Clara?

Having fun with the children! That was really the main thing you had to do. The little school starts at 15h and ends at 17:15-17:30 or so, from Monday to Friday. First there was half an hour of free play, then we had a circle where we introduced the new teachers (aka volunteers) if there were any, and the workshops of the day. The idea was that each week would have a different theme, but this was not always possible, so we did the workshops according to what the volunteers proposed, normally trying to prepare everything weekly on Mondays, in case specific material was needed, for example I did a mural painting workshop with the older children. Then at 5pm or so, we would all get together and have another circle where we would have a snack, show what we had done or learnt during the day and play some games together.

Sometimes they would also come with homework, and one of us would stay to help them do it. And then there was always someone else who stayed with the little ones if there were a lot of them. All this at workshop time. We volunteers used to divide up before the school started, or according to the needs that we saw, and you end up understanding each other very well and we already knew what each one of us liked best, you create very good connections. And Andrea (the coordinator) is open to all the workshop proposals you have, the more the better, and she is very understanding, she lets you go at your own pace, although with the energy she has, you end up going at her pace hahahaha.

That's when the escuelita ended, but then at 17:30 everyone starts to leave their houses for community sports or to share with each other, and I strongly recommend anyone who goes to stay and join in, it's the best! They mainly play football, volleyball or marbles. And then when it was getting dark I would go for walks with Gabi, a local girl, and the teenagers, who didn't all go to the little school. For me it was a very special moment because I could share with them and get to know them better.
But it has to be said, that although when you go to the project the school is your main task, then every time you left the house there was always some little one who wanted you to play with them, or who wanted to accompany you wherever you went.


During these three months of adventure, what moment do you consider has marked you the most?

It would be so difficult for me to say one... but I think the moments that have marked me the most are when you notice that the children start to feel more confident. They see you in the street and hug you, or smile at you. Everyone is different, and I have special moments with each one of them. It is especially when they have shared stories of their private lives that have had the greatest impact on me.
But one very happy moment I spent there, I remember we had just finished the little school, and it had been a very hot day, and it came up with some of the older ones to go to the football pitch at the first port (the village has three in total, in order of arrival from the first port). Iquitos), which was starting to get waterlogged in some parts due to the rise of the river. So there we went, even though it was starting to rain, and between that and the water that was already on the course, it was like playing water polo-futbol, we were having such a good time, we were just falling all over the place because of the mud! It is a moment that will live forever in my memory.


Would you recommend this experience to people who are thinking about it?

200%, I keep telling everyone that it was wonderful, and that they could do it too.
There is nothing nicer than sharing and meeting people, and there are a lot of children there who are eager to learn. Besides, if you're thinking about it, it's because something in you is telling you that you have to do it. A week before I left, I was thinking, why am I getting myself into all this trouble, who's calling me when I'm so comfortable, and then look, I didn't want to leave. The only thing I regret is having gone with a return flight, hahahaha.
Many of my family and friends were almost afraid of the animals I would encounter when I went there, but it really wasn't that terrible, I thought it would be much worse. You have to take into account the animals you're going to meet, you're in the jungle, but they go their own way and you go yours. And what's more, you can take a dip in the Amazon River! It's like being in a film or experiencing a TV 2 documentary first hand.


Do you think travelling with Tumaini changes lives?

Yes, I think it changes your perspective on life. When you go back, obviously you get used to the comforts quickly, but you appreciate them much more. I think you learn to appreciate the opportunities we have because we were born where we were born and not somewhere else, things that we think are given to us but are not.



Our volunteer returns home with a backpack full of learning, ready to begin to see life from a different perspective, with a more real, more caring and fairer outlook. Without fears and knowing how to give importance only to the problems that really matter. Thank you, María, for your sincere words and for wanting to share your experiences with our readers, may they be encouraged to experience something so beautiful and transforming.


Now it's your turn, do you want to experience firsthand all the emotions that our volunteer has felt on this solidarity trip?

Write to us at and let's start preparing for this life-changing adventure that will change many people's lives and yours too.

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  • Agustín Emilio Cuesta Menéndez
    May 29, 2022

    Excellent experience and a wonderful account of it. I have this trip temporarily suspended. My flight to Santa Clara was due to leave on 30 April 2020. It couldn't be because of the Covid. Now I will have to wait, as I don't have a Covid passport because I refused to be inoculated with what they call a vaccine. I hope it will be resolved soon.


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