Those tiles I promised, laundry, and I locked myself in
Lessons learned this week:
1) How to wash laundry by hand
step 1: buy a bigger bucket than you think you need
step 2: don't use a lot of soap. Adding extra soap to compensate for your low self-efficacy for cleaning does not work. It makes everything worse. It won't come out. You will become very frustrated. And covered in soapy water.
step 3: just pay the $5 for someone to wash your laundry for you... (just kidding...??)
2) If you need very specific materials for any reason, bring them with you to Iquitos!
My colleague and I spent probably 2 hours shopping for 4 items, of which we only ended up finding 3. We started efficiently in this huge department store, buying a scale and plastic bucket for my field component. But it got complicated when searching for a laboratory thermometer (which, OK, maybe in hindsight I should have known this wouldn't be easy to find) and a timer. Guess which one we didn't find? We walked a ton of blocks, basically retracing our steps repeatedly as people suggested stores in opposite directions. Finally, we found the thermometer at a medical supply store, but it wasn't quite the size I was hoping for. And it looks like I'll be using my phone timer for now..
3) Wifi is impacted by weather conditions
Alright, I don't know how true this is. But I have noticed a pattern that the wifi in my apartment is worse/nonexistent when it's actively raining. While eating at an expat-friendly restaurant on Friday, the waitress told me the wifi wasn't working because of the weather. Anyone have any technical expertise to add to this highly circumstantial convo?
Random things I want to talk about:
4) I've never boiled my drinking water before! This must come as a surprise to some of you, since I've been working on water projects for four years now in developing areas. But, if I was staying somewhere for only a week or two and the tap was unsafe, I would drink bottled water (biggest bottles you can find or those water jugs. I still can't physically/mentally buy a personal-size water bottle, my soul cringes at the thought). If I was staying somewhere longer-term (Colombia, Kenya) I just drank the tap water. The environment in Iquitos is literally optimal for disease transmission, especially of the enteric variety (hence why my research is here). So, it really is best here to purify your water.
5) Guilt and shame led me to buy a gym towel
I've been dripping sweat all over everything at the gym. They don't do the whole soapy wet towel (what is in those spray bottles anyway?) thing at the gym, where everyone is responsible for wiping down their equipment after they're done and everyone judges you if you don't. So, I'm dripping my sweat (seriously its so much, I don't know if you understand how much dripping is going on) all over the floor, the mat I use, and whatever else I happen to walk past/touch (LITERALLY. 94% humidity). And there's nothing for me to wipe up with, so I just feel horrible for all these non-drenched people who now have to come into contact with my gringo fluids. Boring story short: I bought a gym towel and it makes me feel more human. 6) There are lots of stray cats and dogs And also cats and dogs that appear to have jobs and families, but I'm not 100% certain about. For example, this one. She sat with me while I ate lunch the other day (uninvited).
They woke me up muuuy temprano and caused me much concern. Sometimes if I hear a lot of sirens and see 5 or more cops speeding by in Baltimore, I go to Google News and just search 'Baltimore' to see whats going on. The other night/morning I googled Iquitos News on my phone because I was becoming concerned. There were sirens continuously for what felt like an hour (it was probably 25 mins) and a women yelling something over a megaphone that I couldn't understand (obv. spanish). I take my clues from locals, and no one in my building was reacting at all, so I stayed in bed, but eventually peaked out the window. Apparently, the insecticide spraying of houses takes place at 5:00 am? They have these "ghost-buster" crews (Angel's analogy) with backpacks and face masks and hoses, who storm the streets spraying insecticide on the sidewalks. Apparently they also spray the front of your house, and inside of your house. So when its 5 am, they scream loudly into a megaphone so that you open the door and let them come in and spray insecticides. :| But as a Public Health nerd, its pretty cool to see how seriously they take it because this is a huge component of preventing malaria, dengue, and zika, etc.
8) I had to climb out my window because I had managed to lock myself inside of my apartment that's all, this one speaks for itself.
9) My very own lab space:
10) and let's top this off with a beautiful picture of the Amazon from the edge of town