By John Anderson
On Tuesday, March 25th, at 6:30pm, students and parents interested in the 2015 Amazon expedition are invited to attend an information session at the Auburn Middle School. The 2015 trip will be the 37th for middle school students from Auburn or Barnstable, two middle schools that have shared this unique experience.
The Expedition is led by retired Auburn Middle School teacher Mark Blazis who conducts bird banding research in the Amazon jungle along with his wife Helen. The medical director is local pediatrician Dr. Nancy DeTora who has made this an annual mission to provide care to the local Kichwa population.
In Mark Blazis’ words, “When I first started exploring this region alone in the 1980’s, the Kichwa were very shy, typically hiding in the forest when they saw me. It took years to win their confidence, make friendships, and set the stage for bringing our annual Amazon Team from Auburn to explore the magic of the rainforest – and help make it better, too.”
“Our efforts and contributions, financially and otherwise, have supported those Kichwa who want to keep the oil companies from coming in and developing their land, changing their rainforest forever. As long as we can keep helping, medically and otherwise, there is great incentive to avoid accepting money from the oil companies to drill. While much of the Amazon is now in flames, with gas being visibly burned off to facilitate oil extraction, the Sani area that we venture to is still untouched, loaded with jaguars, harpy eagles, macaws, tapirs, peccaries, poison arrow frogs, piranhas, monkeys, and caimans. We can still shoot blowguns with the Indians and climb 150 feet high in the rainforest canopy to see the magic of its wildlife at eye level.”
Sani Lodge can only be accessed by boat down the Rio Napo from Coca, Ecuador. After the 3-1/2 hour boat ride, visitors make an amazing hike through the jungle to a launch were they get into canoes for the trip to the lodge. Along the way, they will likely spot black caiman, turtles, monkeys, and many species of birds.
A $500 deposit per person will be taken Tuesday for people who want to secure a place on the expedition. Checks should be made to the Amazon Fund. Students must be at least in the eighth grade by the 14/15 school year and must have an adult chaperone.
The slide program and recounting of adventures by former expedition mates is an educational event in itself and will begin at 7 pm sharp. If you have any interest in the trip, please attend.
Editor’s Note: I have been on this trip three times over the last 5 years, and it is life changing. The slide show is from our 2012 trip to Sani Lodge and is just a hint of the beauty of this Edenic place.