Saturday, June 2, 2007

By Gary Duncan, Assistant Director of Marketing

It is now Saturday night and I am sitting in an Internet cafe in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Belo Horizonte means "beautiful horizon" in English. This city is located in the mountainous state of Minas Gerais. Unlike the past 7 days of oppressive heat and humidity, Belo is a pleasant 75 degrees... que belo is Belo!

Okay, you are probably wondering what happened to me since my last report from the jungles of the Amazon. I would like to report that I was not eaten by ravenous caimans, or attacked by an anaconda, or even lost in the jungle. I was a victim of the deadly heavy luggage predator! We have 30 CCF sponsors and staff traveling with what seems like 100 pieces of overweight and oversized luggage, mine included! So last Tuesday, I was helping the boat transfer people load luggage onto our Amazon runabout, it isn’t easy carrying luggage from a jungle pier to unstable, rocking boats. I twisted my back big time and could barely walk. Back pain or caiman attack? I’ll take that caiman attack any day!

On our last day in the Amazon, we were on the water all day exploring inlets and tributaries of the mighty Amazon----seeing monkeys, snakes, spiders and iguanas...and an incredible array of butterflies, fish, and flowers. The Amazon is an amazing place and as I sweated and swatted giant mosquitoes, our guide Marco had the audacity to announce that a cold front has settled on to the Amazon. This guy has obviously spent way too much time in the sun! It had to be 102 degrees that day with relentless sun and torrential warm rains. Not exactly your luxury tour, but the sponsors seemed to love every moment.

The CCF sponsors on this study tour are a hardy group no matter their age or physical condition. Few complaints, lots of curiosity, and full of adventure! I am proud of all of them and the jungle challenges they have endured the past week: red howler monkeys barking at night, caimans just outside their little cabins, pink dolphins playing along the riverbanks, and some of the largest scorpions I have ever seen in my life! I think the fortitude and can-do attitude of CCF sponsors creates the strongest determination to help needy children and families throughout the world! They are a very special group of people!

Okay....back to the attack of the killer luggage. I knew immediately when I lugged that huge bag onto the boat, my body had taken a direct hit! I could barely walk and it was hard to sit down, the pain was so intense that I considered sacrificing myself to the school of piranhas that constantly followed our boats; at least, this group of CCF sponsors could get some good photos of me thrashing about in the Amazon for the friends and family back home!

To their and my credit, the sponsors got me on the airplane for our next stop in Fortaleza, Brazil. After 10 hours of flying in a small TAM Airline torture seat we landed safely, ore about this adventure in my next posting. I am running out of internet time so good night and tchau for now.

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