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ACEER expedition in the Peruvian Amazon, Part 3

by Paola Moreno-Roman

Day Six

 

We woke up early to go see the river dolphins. We saw a few females and one male. The females are more gray-ish and males are pink. It was so beautiful to see the sunrise. As we were heading back to the lodge, it started raining a little bit and we were blessed with a rainbow.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

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It hasn’t rained much since we arrived and the research team is in need of rain. The river is getting lower and lower and it will be impossible for the research team to go up river to one of the sites where they were going to collect samples. Before breakfast, I took a morning walk through the canopy with Deb - who conquered her fear of heights and had an amazing time. Everywhere you look there is always something interesting and beautiful like these heart-shaped fruits and these venomous caterpillars.

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Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Afterwards, we headed to the Sucusari community. I had a headache and my body felt a bit achy. We think it is dehydration so I was advised to rest and drink lots of water. I stayed at the NGO One Planet’s house while other team members carried on with their tasks. While resting, I was able to take some nice images of Foldscope next to the stingless bees.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Every afternoon, once it starts cooling down, the Maijuna community members play soccer. So when the research team came back from their expedition, they joined and had a soccer match with the Maijuna - sadly we lost.

 
Photo and video credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

In the evening, we had a bonfire in a little sand dune that had formed because the river is so low. It was a really nice team bonding moment. I am so grateful for this opportunity to connect with nature and see the impact Foldscope has around the world.
 
Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Day Seven

 

We went to the community in the morning. I taught Hilder and Magnolia how to use the Foldscope and prepare sample.

 
Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

We started by collecting flowers to look at pollen under the Foldscope. However, we were very surprised that we had a hard time finding flowers with pollen. We are in the Amazon so this was not an issue we were anticipating! However, the community members told us that it is usually during June-August that the flowers are in full bloom. We found a few flowers where the pollen looked a bit dry - probably because of the heat and lack of rain.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Therany Gonzales, fromACEER, helped me in this workshop. We looked at structural differences of pollen from two different flowers. We hope that this will be a tool for them to map the pollen from the flowers near their house. We also looked at pollen from the legs of one of the bees, we used clear tape to tap the legs - the pollen we found was different from the pollen from the two flowers we had seen.

 

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman, Therany Gonzales (pollen)

 

Hilder was so excited that he showed the samples to his whole family including his father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc.​​

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Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Afterwards, we met with Tarkis and Grapulio, who came to visit from another Maijuna community. They are also beekeepers. I asked them if they would like to learn about Foldscope and they were very intrigued by it. Both were super enthusiastic about using it and making different kinds of samples.

Photo credit: Brian Griffiths

 

Danielito, a boy from the community, was looking at us with lots of curiosity so I invited him to join the workshop. I also gave him a Foldscope and he helped with the sample collection and sample processing. We looked at pollen from a nearby flower and insects.

 
Photo credit: Brian Griffiths (top), Therany Gonzales (bottom)

 

The day flew by and we returned to the lodge for dinner and to rest. I can’t believe I only have two more days here.

 

Day Eight

 

Each night, I sleep better and better. My body is finally getting adjusted to this new environment. I have had a sore throat for a couple of days that seems to be getting worse each day, but I decide to push through since I only have a day left in the community before heading back to Lima and the US. Our morning boat ride to the community took a long time because the river’s levels are extremely low. According to locals, it hasn’t been this low in decades.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Therany and I showed Saul and Loyda, Maijuna beekeepers, how to use the Foldscope. Muller and Danielito were my assistants and helped me find samples.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Sadly, a beloved community member passed away so our afternoon activities changed and we joined the community in their mourning. In the evening, I had the opportunity to show how to use the Foldscope to other members of the team. Carlos and Enrique, from the OnePlanet NGO were amazed by it and loved it.

 
Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

Day Nine

 

Today we leave the Amazon. A few of the team members will stay for one more week. Deb had brought a microscope with a screen and we used that to teach Tarquis and Grapulio how to look at bees. They were amazed.

 
Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

We also took them on a canopy walk and they loved it! It was their first time on a canopy walk. Tarquis was a bit scared because the hanging bridges are not too stable but she pushed through her fears and enjoyed the experience!​​

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman (top), Brian Griffiths (bottom)

 

Before leaving, I showed Vittor, Lindsay, Luis, Ethan, Deb, and Roldán how to use the Foldscope. They excitement was contagious. Luis ran to get some samples and look at them under the Foldscope.

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman

 

They were amazed when they looked at butterfly scales.

 
Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman, Therany Gonzales (butterfly scales)

 

We headed back tired but with our hearts full after such an amazing experience!

Photo credit: Paola Moreno-Roman