20 year-old Joe Peacock, from Tonbridge, Kent, UK, went to Peru in November 2011 and spent just under 8 weeks living in the shack caring for the dogs whilst Cristina returned to Australia to spend Christmas and New Year with her family. Here on this page you can read a day-by-day account of Joe's experience.
Joe's trip was only made possible due to the kind donations received from family, friends, and dog lovers from all over the world, following his plea for help with the cost of his flights.
If you, or anyone you know, would like the opportunity to volunteer in Peru helping Cristina and/or caring for the dogs then please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 44 (0) 7801 505526 and speak with Maxine.
Joe's story starts here with a message from Cristina:
"I am so happy that Joe Peacock has offered to come out to Peru to look after my dogs while I go visit my family for Christmas. I admire Joe for what he is doing, and can relax knowing that, from Joe's experience with dogs, that my 8 rescued dogs will be well cared for. Not only will Joe take care of the dogs, he will also be doing so in a country so different from England that it might as well be Mars. The climate is difficult to say the least: Temperatures are in the high 90's for all but 2 months of the year. No-one speaks English, so Joe is doing a crash course in Spanish. Life is basic: while I have a water tap at my house (the tap happens to be in the middle of the garden) I have no toilet. Mosquitos are a problem but luckily there are coils and plug-in devices to control them at night. Water and power cuts are a way of life here; but Joe knew all this when he volunteered, and so now he's embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. I hope everyone will get behind Joe and help him as he will be helping me." Cristina Corales
WEDNESDAY 9th NOVEMBER 2011
Joe says: "Only 18 days left until I leave to the 'unknown'! It's all sinking in now, I've got some big ass butterflies starting to flap about in my stomach, but I am very much looking forward to it!"
When asked what he considered to be the most difficult aspect of his mission Joe said: "Not too long ago it was the language! But I have figured I've always got my book. Mentally it's rather hard as I'm going to live as one of them in a third world country. It's a hard job looking after that many dogs in England on your own so this is going to be throwing me in the deep end, but that's also what I am excited about and I know I can do it. Hopefully I can get involved with their work life and can really experience the full package! By the end of it all I hope not to freak when I see a tarantula lol !"
TUESDAY 22nd NOVEMBER: Get ready for updates from Joe
WATCH THIS SPACE....
As the person responsible for creating and updating this website I think it’s only right for me to introduce myself - I’m Joe’s aunt, Maxine Heasman; I visited Peru in April 2010 and saw for myself the misery and suffering of the neglected street dogs. I wanted to see something being done to help them – then I discovered Cristina and her wonderful work in Peru. What a sense of relief and comfort that someone had actually put the wheels in motion to make a difference to the lives of these suffering animals!
Earlier this year Joe had asked me for some advice and guidance regarding doing voluntary work overseas with animals; so when Cristina put out a plea for a volunteer willing to look after her rescued dogs it made perfect sense to discuss it with Joe… and the rest is history in the making!
Over the coming days and weeks I’ll be posting updates and photos here on a daily basis. Check back here tomorrow for a personal message from Joe. In the meantime fingers crossed that the foggy weather improves – flights in and out of Heathrow have been subject to delays over the past few days. Joe’s flight departs this Sunday evening. [Tuesday 22.11.2011]
WEDNESDAY 23rd NOVEMBER: Joe answers your questions:
With just a few days left until he departs Joe is busy getting prepared. “I would like to say a big, big thank you to everyone who has donated. I hardly know any of these people and they don’t know me either, so it’s been a bit of shock really to receive so many donations and to see just how quickly it has all come together. I have been very surprised to see what people will give towards helping animals even though they don’t know me. My family have been helping a lot and it’s just been amazing really getting so much support."
How have people learned about your mission? “This website has been a brilliant way to inform people and get donations, and my grandparents have been doing a fantastic job raising funds from customers at their dog boarding kennels. My mum too has been raising funds and awareness by handing out leaflets and generally spreading the word in the local community, particularly when out dog walking. I really didn’t expect to raise as much as we’ve got – it’s fantastic!”
How are you planning to stay in touch while you are out there? “I’m going to be quite isolated when I’m in Peru and I’ll be almost totally reliant on the internet as a way of communicating with my friends and family, so I am really grateful to my grandparents who have given me a brand new Acer Netbook laptop to take with me - such a great gift, which will be my communication centre and lifeline throughout my time in Peru! Keeping in regular contact with my family will be a top priority as I know both my mum and my grandmother will be worried about me.”
How do you feel about being away from home at Christmas time? “To be honest I’m not that bothered… you get Christmas once every year but something like this trip to Peru only comes along once in a lifetime. The only thing I’m going to miss is my Christmas dinner!!
How are you going to cope doing all the cleaning? “Cristina has been sending me lots of information about the dogs and all the daily and weekly chores that I will need to do. It seems I’ll be spending quite a bit of time clearing up dog mess and sweeping bugs off the walls, particularly at night. Oh and spiders… I’m absolutely petrified of them but I’m just going to have to get used to them and treat them as my friends! I’m hoping that this experience will help me overcome my fear of spiders!"
How do you plan to spend your days in Puerto Maldonado? “I won’t be expected to spend all my time in the shack so I’m hoping to spend my days getting involved in the Peruvian way of life. It is going to be so different to what I am used to. I am particularly interested in learning how to make boats – I’d love to get involved in that and hopefully I’ll get the chance to if I make some good friends, which I’m sure I will.”
Over the past few weeks you’ve been trying to learn Spanish, how’s it going? “I have to admit that I’m not very good at learning Spanish but I’m determined to stick at it. I will be taking my Spanish books and CDs with me to Peru so I can continue to learn and practice. When I’m there I won’t find many locals who can speak English so that should give me even more incentive to learn as much of their language as I can.”
Do you think you’re going to miss your friends and life back in Kent? “There are definitely a couple of good mates that I’m going to miss – I see them casually at least a couple of times a week and have done for the past 10 years or more so it will be strange, but I’ll be alright and my time in Peru will go pretty quickly I’m sure!”
What are you looking forward to the most? “I’m looking forward to seeing the scenery all around me. It’s going to be amazing. The lifestyle and the animals – here you can only see the animals in glass tanks and/or cages but in Peru they’ll be living like they’re supposed to and I’m really looking forward to that. I’m also aware that I’ll be seeing how people with not much money live and I’m sure that will be quite an eye-opener.”
What would you like to take away from the experience? “I think I’ll probably find the answer to that question when I’m out there!”
If you could take one person with you who would it be, and why? “Jessica-Jane Clement because she’s gorgeous!! No, seriously it would be my little dog Chia, I’d like to bring her with me because I love her to bits, and yeah I’m going to miss her a lot. I’ll miss her loads because she’s my companion. She’s a Pomeranian cross – although even the vet can’t say what she’s crossed with so she’s just one of a kind. We got her the day after my motorbike crash when she was about 12 weeks old, and she’s always been there so she’s my friend.”
How are you progressing with your preparations for the trip… are you ready yet? “My injections are all done and my malaria and cholera medication has been covered, but I haven’t packed yet. I have most of the stuff I need but there are just a few bits more that I need to get. Then I need to go back over it to make sure I’ve got everything. I’m sure I’m going to miss something! Things are all going well and I’ve had lots of people helping and advising with things I’d never have thought of – yes I would have missed a lot if I hadn’t had this input… things like taking talcum powder to dry my feet out because they’re going to get horrible and I could get foot rot; and putting my socks over my boots at night to stop insects, spiders or scorpions crawling in them!! Stuff like that I would never have thought about so it’s been great having help from people.”
THURSDAY 24th NOVEMBER
Joe isn't the only one busy with final preparations... Cristina has been getting the jungle shack spruced up with a lick of paint, getting the leaking roof mended and obtaining a bed for Joe. As soon as I figure out how to upload them onto this page you'll be able to see some photographs. In the meantime I'd like to share with you some of Cristina's instructions to Joe:
"I'm not going to write 'This is what you have to do'. Instead I'll tell you my typical day and you can have an idea of what you'll be doing.
At 6am everyone seems to get up here, all the neighbours start making noise as the kids start school day at 7am. I get up at 6am, make coffee and get on the net until around 7.15am when the dogs tell me they are hungry. After they've been fed I have breakfast. Then I start cleaning: there is a LOT of cleaning to be done. First I clean up any accidents from the night. Two dogs aren't completely toilet trained yet and wee in the night.
Wash dog plates, my dishes, then shake out dog bedding and sweep the floors and walls. The reason for sweeping the walls is that insects cover the walls and will take over the shack if not discouraged at every opportunity. Then I wash my clothes and any dog blankets that need it. By now it's about 9am and I need another coffee!
The land and the new house need to be de-pooed: I put on rubber gloves and hiff it all in the direction of the river. Am practicing to join the NZ cricket team.
After that I shower and go out to work. You'll be free to do whatever.
There is always other work to do, such as taking everything off the food shelves and wiping them down. They get covered in insects if I don't. Once a week the floors get a scrub with disinfectant and the broom. I do this on dry days. If the grass gets really long it needs to be cut back in areas like around the clothes line and walkways because of snakes Once a week the 3 little dogs have a bath. The big dogs won't let me bath them. On Sunday afternoons I put the rubbish out in the street.
Shops open around 9-10am but are shut between 1pm and 3-4pm for lunch. That's when I have a siesta. Then they open again until 8-9pm. Everything is very flexible. Like, if there is a lot of rain some shops don't bother opening at all. The market is open early morning until late at night.
In the late afternoon I sweep the house out again, shake out beds again if they need it, and go back to work or visit friends. And shower. Dogs get their dinner 6pm or around then. Afterwards I wash their plates and make my dinner. And put a padlock on the gate.
Late night is the best time for the internet, in fact it's about the only time that downloading is possible." [Cristina Corales - 1st November 2011]
FRIDAY 25th NOVEMBER
Yesterday I promised you photographs....
Photo 1 - Pancho [© Cristina Corales]
"This is Pancho. He risked his life crawling from the building site to my roof to spread plastic sheeting to keep out the rain. It took him an hour, and as well as his ladder being too short, the roof beams rotten, he also had to contend with a wasps' nest. When I paid him the equivalent of $17au. he said it was far too much and he came back with a machete and cut a new path through the jungle for me. Then took my gas tank and had it filled. What a sweet man."
Photo 2 - Joe's Bed [© Cristina Corales]
"The new old bed was dumped at the start of my track. This is my good friend Paulina lugging the mattress across a ditch and up the rise while checking on Robbie who was about to be attacked by a gang of street dogs. The ditch has been opened and filled in 3 times in the last week, it seems no-one can make up their mind what to do with it."
MEANWHILE... back in Kent, Joe spends the day helping his step-father decorate his new workshop:
Photo 3 - Edenbridge workshop [© Joe Peacock]
SATURDAY 26th NOVEMBER
By the time he arrives in Puerto Maldonado, Joe will have been travelling for around 24 hours. Cristina will meet him at the airport when he arrives on Monday afternoon local time (the time difference being -5 hours). There is no separate bedroom in Cristina's shack so for his first night only Joe will be staying here http://www.tambopatahostel.com/ - this means he'll be able to get some decent sleep without being disturbed. Please take a look at the hostel website as it contains some great photos of the fauna and flora that Joe will get to see.
Cristina has written today: "I'm looking forward to meeting Joe, but I'm glad that he'll have the first night to recover at the hostel because I imagine everything will be rather overwhelming at first. Then when he comes to the shack, that will be a further culture shock! Having to share a room with dogs on the floor and me in my hammock, no toilet, neighbours who play loud music at 5am, the jungle, the heat, the mosquitos.
The two things that I'm most interested in is what accent Joe has! I have a New Zealand accent with Australian overtones, so Joe's pronouncation of Spanish will be very different from mine I imagine.
The second thing is what my dogs will make of him. Thank goodness he's used to dogs as when I open the gate they all rush at who ever is there and bark like crazy. Peruvians have a very different way of treating dogs than we do. Their first instinct is to throw stones or arm themselves with a stick against the dogs and I constantly have to explain that if they are aggressive towards dogs the dogs will be aggressive back at them. So having Joe here to care for the dogs like I do is so important and I can go home for a break knowing they'll be looked after properly."
SUNDAY 27th NOVEMBER
Joe makes it to Heathrow in plenty of time for his flight...
Photo 4 - London Heathrow Departures - Terminal 3 [© Maxine Heasman]
MONDAY 28th NOVEMBER
At 20:12 hours GMT Cristina confirmed that Joe had safely arrived in Peru and is checked in at the hostel. I'm looking forward to getting the first update from Joe... in the meantime, here are some of Cristina's photos....
Photo 5 - Shower [© Cristina Corales]
"Today [22 October] I re-lined the shower. I won't show what it was like before as I don't want to be responsible for people throwing up. Just believe me, it was gross. Now it is a 5 star shower and I'm pretty proud, in spite of having a touch of sun stroke."
Photo 6 - Dunny [© Cristina Corales]
"A neighbour's toilet. Or in Aussie speak, a dunny."
Photo 7 - Cristina's shack [© Cristina Corales]
"Our house in Puerto Maldonado."
TUESDAY 29th NOVEMBER
Here's Joe arriving at Puerto Maldonado Airport yesterday.
Photo 8 - Joe arriving [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 9 - Joe's plane having landed at Puerto Maldonado [© Cristina Corales]
Joe's first message, sent within a couple of hours of arriving: "I'm all taken aback at the minute, it's so different even the keyboard on this computer is proving challenging... I had to get someone to type the @ for me as you have to hold alt then type 4 and 6, ha ha. I'm going to go and relax now as I'm all over the place in my head!! I will speak to you properly tomorrow followed with pictures... my god was it beautiful looking out the window of the plane when I flew in."
Whilst waiting for Joe to arrive yesterday, Cristina went looking for a dog that had been seen on the streets and which was covered in tumors.
Photo 10 - Preciosa [© Cristina Corales]
"This is Precious. Her owner adored her but had no money to take her for treatment for her tumors. The expression on Precious's face says what words can't."
Sadly Precious was so old and so riddled with tumors that she was euthanised. If you haven't already done so, please consider making a donation here - any funds received will go directly to helping suffering street dogs in Peru.
Last night part of the market burnt down due to an electrical fault, causing an electrical blackout in the whole of Puerto Maldonado! Fortunately this happened before Joe arrived!
WEDNESDAY 30th NOVEMBER
Cristina's friend Paulina is a teacher at a local school, and yesterday Joe went along and became everyone's best friend by handing out lollipops to the class...
Photo 11 [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 12 [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 13 [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 14 - School exterior [© Cristina Corales]
Last night Joe emailed his first photos....
Photo 15 - View from plane window [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 16 - Jungle foilage in the hostel garden [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 17 - Inside the shack... this is Joe's side of the room [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 18 - And here is Cristina's side of the room! [© Joe Peacock]
19:25 hours GMT - I have just spoken with Joe - this morning he witnessed a dog undergoing surgery:
Photo 19 - Joe at the vet with Lassie [© Cristina Corales]
Lassie was sterilised a month ago but one of the stitches had been left in and had become infected.
Joe is shocked at the level of poverty all around him. Everyone is being really friendly and welcoming, and on his first night [at the hostel] he was able to relax in the company of some Americans!
He is feeling frustrated with himself for not learning sufficient Spanish prior to travelling; he really wants to be able to converse with the local people but has a long way to go before he can do that. [Personally I think that's going to be great motivation, and when Cristina leaves for Australia on Friday he'll have even more motivation to improve!!] Joe is finding the intense heat quite a challenge too!!
He sounded very excited and was telling me about all the sounds of the jungle that can be heard through the night, particularly the frogs. The shack is right next to the river and this morning at 5 a.m. Joe said it was amazing. He's taken so many photos already! Last night little Pia got onto the bed and slept with him.
Photo 20 - This is Pia as she looks now [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 21 - And this is how Pia looked when Cristina first found her
[© Cristina Corales]
FRIDAY 2nd DECEMBER
Apologies for the lack of update yesterday... for various reasons neither Joe or Cristina could message me with their news!
Cristina has written today as follows: "Yesterday was frantic; we had 4 dogs to take to the vets, then dog food to buy, find 2 of my dogs who went walk-about, friends visited and then out to dinner last night. On the way home trying to find out about a very sick dog, then a HUGE storm and no power. All in 30 degrees heat!"
Today Cristina travels back to Australia leaving Joe 'holding the fort' for the next few weeks! Having spent the past few days together, Cristina states: "Joe has this tremendous enthusiasm for life, I love that about him. He so tries to speak Spanish, studying all the time, trying to read the newspaper and signs on the street. And interested in everything. I think he'll cope very well. And the dogs like him, he talks to them and touches them so of course they are enjoying that."
Photo 22 - Joe with Sweetie (aka Dolce) and Pia [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 23 - Joe beside the Tambopata River [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 24 - Joe and Lassie re-visit the vet [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 25 - Joe with Paulina's son Willie [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 26 - Joe in bed!! [© Cristina Corales]
Photo 27 - Tambopata River [© Joe Peacock}
Photo 28 - Jungle flora [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 29 - Joe's garden and outside shower [© Joe Peacock]
SATURDAY 3rd DECEMBER
SUNDAY 4th DECEMBER
Not the best of days for Joe... with the heat getting to him and an increasing sense of isolation due to the language barrier!
"Its very lonely now Cristina has gone. I spoke to the English lady next door for the first time today - she is the only person I am able to have a conversation with as literally NOBODY speaks English and she's a rather quiet person to say the least! I now feel like an alien here and cannot ask simple things such as "can i have a lighter please?", and now I have nobody to help me with the pronunciation. Leroy, a Peruvian man from the hostel is starting to visit me almost daily - he speaks about 15 words of English so its becoming very funny when he comes round as I want to learn Spanish he wants to learn English so there is a lot of sign language and pointing happening!! Ha ha!"
Photo 30 - Mango tree [© Joe Peacock]
"This woman was knocking mangos out of the tree and people below were collecting them. As I watched I was kindly handed a mango from another woman."
Speaking about his experiences at the vet with Lassie, Joe states: "Poor Lassie... she had an infection from a previous surgery due to a piece of stitching being left in. The vet without hesitation stuck a pair of scissors straight into the dog. It made me feel so sick. Lassie yelped with pain and Cristina quickly confronted him and the problem was resolved .. this was one of not many qualified vets so god knows what goes on with the others."
Photo 31 - One of the nicer houses in the area [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 32 - Roof of shack [© Joe Peacock]
"The beautiful roof from inside with a few minor leaks."
Photo 33 - Medicine tree [© Joe Peacock]
"This tree is used for some sort of medicine via the slits. I think it is used for wounds!"
MONDAY 5th DECEMBER
A new day arrives and as he reflects on yesterday, a more positive Joe emerges: "The heat plays a major factor in my day and yesterday was the hottest I had been since I was here which stressed me out. I am missing my easy life back home but I'm happy I'm doing this. I've woken up with a new attitude but I'm rather worried about a pack of street dogs I cannot avoid to get out to the town - they were very aggressive yesterday and one nipped my leg, not very hard but enough to bring some blood!"
Using a water bottle, Joe is going to create a make-shift water pistol to use as a deterrent should the dogs become aggressive again.
Photo 34 - Joe at table [© Cristina Corales]
Speaking about Cristina's dogs, Joe told me: "The dogs are all great, they have their squabbles as any dog. My favourite would be Dulce (aka Sweetie) because he has taken a liking to me and is at my feet 24/7!"
Photo 35 - This is Puppy Face [© Joe Peacock]
More photos of the dogs will follow shortly.
TUESDAY 6th DECEMBER
I spoke with Joe via telephone today and he seems to be coping very well. He and Leroy have discovered the wonders of Google Translate, which not only translates entire sentences from English to Spanish but also speaks the words to enable correct pronunciation. Leroy is particularly good at learning English which is proving very helpful to Joe. I have no doubt their friendship will go from strength to strength.
Photo 36 - This is Leroy.
After writing to Leroy and asking if I could use his photos, he responded to me today as follows: "Don't worry I'm going to help Joe, he is a great person and very brave to be here in this place, which is very hot today. Today we will go shopping for lunch - rice with chicken and potatoes. I hope you can translate this. Please feel free to add my photo on Joe's website. Greetings to the entire family of Joe."
Photo 37 - Leroy
Meanwhile, Joe has been out and about with his camera.....
Photo 38 - Who is this man? [© Joe Peacock]
"I saw this man polishing shoes; as I came over to take a photo these two men were more than happy to shake my hand and say hello. The CD he is holding said 'world record' with an image of his face, I have no idea who he is so I maybe met a Peruvian celeb!"
Photo 39 - Police officers [© Joe Peacock]
"I actually wanted a photo of these two policemen as they were before I pulled my camera out; one was lying on the bike with his hat hanging off the handlebar and the other leaning against the wall."
Photo 40 - This is the street I live on [© Joe Peacock]
As well as coming face to face with a pack of aggressive street dogs, Joe has also had to face his ultimate fear... SPIDERS!!: "I was having a tidy up, moved my rucksack and there was this spiders' nest!! Sure I didn't sh*t myself and leg it!!"
Joe's most recent communication today reads as follows: "I may be finding it very hard but I'm here to feed and give the dogs company which is the main thing."
So finally today I'd like to introduce you to another of Cristina's lovely dogs....
Photo 41 - Frida now [© Cristina Corales]
The photo above is Frida as she looks today... and the photo below is how she looked when Cristina found her. She was being fed by road construction workers. Young, seemingly pregnant and covered in mange, she had six ticks buried inside one ear. It eventually became apparent that Frida was experiencing a phantom pregnancy.
Photo 42 - Frida before [© Cristina Corales]
WEDNESDAY 7th DECEMBER
Joe writes: "My best day so far... not because I have done anything but I managed to have a proper conversation with the neighbour next door. She invited me in for a cuppa and some rather nice biccies (she had the nicest house I have seen so far). Her little boy Alistair finishes school in a couple of weeks, she said she will take me out as much as she can and the brilliant thing is she used to be a tour guide so who knows were she will take me!! I explained to her I was very lonely and bored and she said I'm living the average life of a Peruvian and as her when she is not at work. Apparently the town itself doesn't have much to do and many people dwell in their own company for days on end. This makes me feel like I'm not alone as much. I will still be exploring and taking pictures of anything new to me which is mostly everything! Started to cut the garden today ten minutes at a time in that heat is enough slowly slowy..."
Photo 43 [© Joe Peacock]
"Pia, Pinky, Frida and Puppy Face all amazed by a frog."
Photo 44 - Internet station [© Joe Peacock]
"My internet station... Pia jumps in my space as soon as I stand up."
If you look closely in the photo above you can see a frog on the floor in front of the pink cans of dog food. Hard to tell from a distance, however it looks to me like a Smokey Jungle Frog. Here's one I photographed whilst in Peru last year....
Photo 45 - Smokey Jungle Frog [© Maxine Heasman]
Once again Joe has sent through some more photos taken whilst out and about in Puerto Maldonado...
Photo 46 [© Joe Peacock]
"I think there was some sort of parade going on. Check out the size of that bad boy haha!"
Photo 47 [© Joe Peacock]
"The police in full riot gear. I don't think I will start any trouble."
Photo 48 - Colourful leaf in the garden [© Joe Peacock]
THURSDAY 8th DECEMBER
Joe's English neighbour and her young son took him swimming today, and whilst out and about he met a group of English speaking people who have invited him to a BBQ on Saturday.
Later in the day illness and lethargy sapped at Joe's enthusiasm - I guess using a bucket for a toilet isn't all that much fun when you're fit and well... let alone when you've got a bad case of 'upset stomach'!!
Photo 49 [© Joe Peacock]
"The floor of my shower. Maybe this sums up a little more how I am living."
Photo 50 [© Joe Peacock]
"As I was on the phone to my dad this rather cool looking moth landed on the inside of one of the 'windows'."
FRIDAY 9th DECEMBER
Heavy tropical storm in Puerto Maldonado this morning coupled with a loss of electricity makes it difficult for Joe to communicate or leave the shack. Awaiting news...
SATURDAY 10th DECEMBER
It has pretty much rained non-stop for the past couple of days in Puerto Maldonado. Today Joe is attending a barbecue at which there will be some English speaking people.
Photo 51 [© Joe Peacock]
"Rainy day. To the left is a HOUSE that was being built... apparently the builder took some money and left and the owner could not afford to get anyone else in."
Joe writes: "It is wet and muddy and once again the dogs are coating the floor in mud! I have given up trying to clean it... I will have to wait until its dry again (if that happens!). My washing from 2 days ago is still wet, and due to some local having some sort of bonfire burning rubber and god knows what everything stinks LOL. I get to meet a few English speaking people today - I never thought I would be so excited!!"
Photo 52 - Pinkie chilling in the hammock [© Joe Peacock]
Cristina describes Pinkie as the baby of the bunch at only about 5 months old. She has on-going mange but it's under control. Pinkie had a very rough start in life and therefore gets lots of attention. When Cristina is there Pinkie sleeps with her... in other words, she's spoilt rotten. Her favourite thing apart from cuddles and posing for cute photos is digging holes!
The photo below shows how Cristina found Pinkie... covered in weeping sores.
Photo 53 [© Cristina Corales]
SUNDAY 11th DECEMBER
Joe writes: "I didnt get to go to the barbecue yesterday because of the weather! Instead I spent most of the day with the neighbours - they managed to show me their new house which is under construction. They told me when the first builder started they had a friend come to inspect and as he jumped up to have a look at the top of the wall it collapsed and crumbled into a pile of dust! This house looks amazing compared to anywhere else; she seems very excited and is having the rarity of hot water. The neighbours brought this weird drink they had never tried; it has been made from a type of wood in the jungle... we all agreed it smelled vulgar but infact we found ourselves licking our lips after a small glass!"
Speaking about the constant heat, Joe states: "The great thing about being cold is you can always put more clothes on... well I can't take anymore off!! LOL. One of the lovely dogs decided to eat my notebook/diary while I was cleaning up some poo, ha ha oh well my memory will have to prove a point. It is amazing the fact I'm so many miles away from home in South America with the jungle a touch away but the heat, being sick/the runs, being bitten to bits and being away from what you're used to makes it very hard. I'm not on holiday as such at the moment, and I won't get to see the real jungle until Cristina returns which I see as a well-deserved reward for looking after the dogs!"
Photo 54 [© Joe Peacock]
"Just caught sight of this rather large bird.
Photo 55 [© Joe Peacock]
"Peru's version of a council worker I guess!"
MONDAY 12th DECEMBER
There was an Englishman, an Australian and a Peruvian sitting in a bar... and this morning Joe woke with one almighty hangover!! Yes while having a snack at the Plaza do Armas yesterday, Joe met an Australian guy, Matt, who had just arrived in Puerto Maldonado whilst travelling around the world. Later that evening Joe, Matt and Leroy met up for a drink... "one thing led to another and we ended up in a karaoke bar singing our hearts out to Queen, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Eminem, Jack Johnson and many more." Later, Joe and Leroy went on to a nightclub where Joe describes "all sorts of music, which was very easy to dance to under the influence." They eventually stumbled out of the club at gone three in the morning!
Earlier in the day Joe took these photographs....
Photo 56 [© Joe Peacock]
"This shows a man with a sack full of brazil nuts; the strap going around his head would have been made out of a strong bark from the jungle."
Photo 57 [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 58 - Clearing a trail [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 59 - Logging [© Joe Peacock]
TUESDAY 13th DECEMBER
Speaking about Cristina's dogs, Joe writes: “Every night when I try to go to sleep Pia and Frida usually start play fighting then barking, flying around the shack and knocking into the walls and me. I am usually woken up about 6 times in a night by visits of sharp claws scratching down my arms or chest. If a moth or bug enters every dog starts a wild hunt to catch it first. I woke up this morning to discover that they have eaten a WHOLE box of Cristina’s and I do not know what was inside it… so I saved as much as was left and put it on a shelf. I can’t stay clean - they all jump up and due to the very muddy surroundings I just get painted in brown. I often wake up with just one flip flop and I have to find the other, and if I have a sleep in the day the search is much more intense!”
Photo 60 - I was taken down this road on a taxi ! (motorbike) [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 61 - View from the Obelisco [© Joe Peacock]
Lonely Planet review: “Although the strangely cosmic, blue Obelisco was designed as a modern mirador (lookout tower), its 30m height unfortunately does not rise high enough above the city for viewers to glimpse the rivers. The view is still fantastic: a distant glimmer of jungle and plenty of corrugated-metal roofs can be admired! Photos displayed on the way up document such historic moments as when the first mototaxi arrived in town. The tower is often closed during rainstorms: water from the roof drains down the stairwells, making them impassable."
WEDNESDAY 14th DECEMBER
Internet connection problems in the Peruvian shack prevented any news updates today.
THURSDAY 15th DECEMBER
Joe continues to struggle with the intense heat and ill-health associated with the previously mentioned 'upset stomach', and the continual wet weather and muddy conditions. In Puerto Maldonado the rain gets so bad that any shops shut and stay shut until the weather improves - if you don't have sufficient provisions indoors to get you through the rain you soon learn to do so!!
Joe writes: "I truly have forgeten what it feels like to be cold even though I have been wishing for it on many occasions in this heat; I'm sure I'll soon start wishing for the heat when I'm back in England... it works both ways - it seems we are never satisfied!"
Photo 62 - Two vultures chilling out. [© Joe Peacock]
Joe hopes soon to have the chance to go on a day trip into the jungle to Lake Sandoval - there is a tourist hike from the Madre de Dios river through the jungle to the lake; on the way you might see parrots and macaws, and black caiman and giant otters have been spotted at the lake. As it is the height of the rainy season at the moment there aren't very many tourists, which means that any day trips or tours are four times their normal price. Luckily as Leroy works at the hostel which operates these tours, Joe will get to know if/when there is a tourist group he can join. In the meantime Joe waits patiently and has developed a thirst for books and any other reading material that comes his way!
FRIDAY 16th DECEMBER
It is incredibly fortunate that Joe finds himself with an English next-door neighbour... Laurel has been tremendously reassuring and supportive to Joe, and has been acting as a translator on many occasions, and also assisted Joe when he paid a visit to Lassie dog in order to remove her stitches. With Laurel's advice and help, Joe saw a medical professional today regarding his symptoms of ill-health and some diagnostic tests have been performed. The results will be made available tomorrow.
Photo 63 - Pinkie with those ever so common puppy eyes! [© Joe Peacock]
Joe writes: "I was awoken today at 5 a.m by Frida, Pia and Milagro - playful growling and big bangs as they throw each other about the room and the beautiful sight of three puddles awaiting my attention! Frida loves to play with anything and throw it in the air for herself, be it a nut, a fly, a leaf or for the unfortunate sake of a bird. Usually Pia or Pinkie then wants this 'amazing item' and Frida teases them very much so. Milagro, who is almost totally blind, runs up and down from the inside of the shack walls following the noises from outside, and often he looks very stupid standing there facing the wall barking. I will try and get a picture of this . Puppy Face is the easiest of all, he has his corner of the shack and it seems to stay like that... he will happily sleep there most of the day and casually stroll over for the odd stroke and tummy rub, which he gets on demand seeing as he's no trouble maker! Pia and Pinkie seem to be learning how to share - they have snuggle-ups at night and I have even seen Frida join in as well, yes three dogs on one blanket!"
Photo 64 - My socks seem to do down well with the dogs! [© Joe Peacock]
Photo 65 [© Joe Peacock]
"These are two of the dogs that really don't like me, pitbull on the left (he's the the calmest of the lot!). Two days ago there were eight of them blocking my path including the one who bit my leg in the first week!"
SATURDAY 17th DECEMBER
The results of Joe's diagnostic tests show that he is suffering from Giardia Lamblia, a condition more commonly known as 'beaver fever', which is caused by the ingestion of parasites via bad water. Fortunately it is easily treated with antibiotics, and Joe is now taking extra precautions by only drinking bottled water and avoiding ice in drinks and salads. Sound advice for anyone travelling to some of the world's more exotic or adventurous locations!
Photo 66 - [© Joe Peacock]
The photo above shows Joe cutting away the very wet and very overgrown foilage that had been swallowing up the tiny track leading to and from the shack.
Joe writes: "Saturday started off with lots and lots of rain so I assumed Leroy's plans of coming round at lunch were off, but Leroy turned up 3 hours after he had planned with his machete in hand and wellies on. I picked up my machete (a gift from Cristina) and dragged it across my hand to show Leroy it was blunt - he got the idea and then within ten minutes we were at a nearby house (shack) having it sharpened for the equivalent of 25p. Off to work we went... Leroy had obviously done this more than once, and had this amazing technique which was swiftly reducing the areas of plants and grass. He kept pointing with his fingers to his eyes then to the grass saying the word "danger snakes", so as to warn me to keep a look out and don't get bitten!"
Photo 66 - [© Joe Peacock]
Here's Leroy, Joe and Leroy's dog Tyson taking a break after clearing the path. In the background is the Tambopata River and beyond that the Amazon jungle.
Photo 67 [© Joe Peacock]
Job done, and after seeing this photo Cristina wrote to me: "Did you see the new track that Joe and Leroy have cut? No more pushing through long wet grass, amazing! That's an impressive amount of work."
Photo 68 - Leroy & Tyson [© Joe Peacock]
SUNDAY 18th DECEMBER
Photo 69 - Frida [© Cristina Corales]
Joe wrote: "I noticed Frida was not herself, she looked very cramped up and in pain; she usually bolts around all day playing mainly with Pia and Pinkie. I knew something was wrong straight away and a bulge had appeared on her tummy. I first tried ringing Paulina, as it was a Sunday the vets was not open, no answer from Paulina, then Leroy… same outcome. I then tried my neighbour but she was also out! By now I was starting to get stressed - I’m in Peru, ill myself, unable to speak to anyone else... "SHIT" what do I do? I then heard the dog next door bark and I knew my neighbour had returned so I quickly shouted over the fence and explained. Within two minutes Laurel had spoken to her vet, also a very close friend, and within the hour she was round on her day off to take a look at Frida. After thirty seconds of her seeing to Frida the vet was pretty positive it was a hernia. She injected some antibiotics into her and gave me instructions to try and feed her some soup promptly, then no more food as she was to operate the next day. Laurel was there the whole time, she was my translator. I asked if Frida would be okay and the answer was not the best news - she was worried about the hardness of the lump. Everyone left and I was alone once again with the dogs. Even though I knew it wasn't my fault I couldn't help feeling a sense of guilt and blame for Frida's pain, and I had a very restless and anxious night."
MONDAY 19th DECEMBER
Monday morning arrives and Joe writes as follows "Frida was due in at the vet at 9 a.m... the wait for 9 a.m felt like a whole day even though it had been three hours. Now I had to figure out how to transport her when she seemed unable to walk, and how to keep the other dogs inside while doing this! I managed to shut all of the dogs inside and get Frida out, and when she saw the gate open she was more than happy to attempt to walk. We got a motocar (not a tuktuk apparently) and off to the vet we went. I didn’t want to leave her."
After an anxious wait while Frida underwent surgery Joe received the best news... the operation had been a success, the hernia had been treated and Frida was going to be okay.
Cristina states: "Thanks to Joe Peacock and his quick action, Frida dog is recovering well from emergency surgery on a hernia."
TUESDAY 20th DECEMBER
Joe writes: "On Monday I stayed in all day to care for Frida as I was told she would be very confused and wobbly when she awoke and this was very true. The first time she woke up she just managed to flop her head about - I managed to get some water in her after many attempts at holding her head in the right place. Once she got the first taste of it the bowl was emptied in no time and she went back off to sleep . When she actually got to her feet, which was 3 hours in total after the surgery, she was banging into everything. She headed straight outside and I had to follow every step.. she went in the direction of a fence where a pickaxe was propped up, and as she crouched to have a pee she was about 1 inch away from having a pickaxe up her backside... so I quickly managed to knock it out of the way!
Today the vet came back round with more antibiotics for Frida. She is slowly getting back on her feet and trying her hardest but rest is best for her at the moment."
Photo 70 - Frida comfortably back at home and sleeping [© Joe Peacock]
WEDNESDAY 21st DECEMBER
Today Joe made his first and very eagerly awaited trip into the jungle to see some of the wonderful wildlife. Feeling comfortable with Frida's progress Joe makes off to the Plaza for an early start. "I can't believe how Frida is; she is so happy, tail going at the rate of sonic and jumping all over her mates...she has more energy than before!
REGRETTABLY THIS IS WHERE JOE'S BLOG HAS TO END... we were the victims of a computer virus which destroyed the text and photos from this point onwards.