Trip Leaders, Allison and Hunt Treadwell
Our initial Adventure Trip to Peru was an incredible, eye-opening experience! As we arrived in Iquitos, Peru, we were greeted by an abandoned jumbo jet decaying on the side of the runway where we deplaned. This was the first of many firsts that we would experience on this life-changing adventure. Our destination was Puerto Alegria, a sanctuary for street boys, located deep in the Amazon rainforest about an hour boat ride up the Itaya River from Iquitos, Peru. The Puerto Alegria orphanage houses around 40 boys between the ages of 5 and 16 years old.
Most were either abandoned by their parents or taken from their homes due to an abusive environment. Puerto Alegria strives to meet the basic physical and spiritual needs of the boys by providing housing, food, and clothing as well as teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a safe and loving environment.
From the moment we stepped off the humble panga used to transport our team to the orphanage, it was amazing to see smiles on all of the boys’ faces. Amidst all the challenges and heartache life has dealt them, they still seemed happy and full of joy. What an honor it was to be part of a team called to serve these precious children of God! We were able to assist them by finishing out several thatched roof huts to house future short-term teams similar to ours. On a typical day, we would spend 2/3 of the day working on the huts and the rest having meals with the boys or playing games with them. Our afternoons were filled with laughter, as we catapulted the boys off the dock into the river, played soccer, and followed the boys on incredible jungle hikes. Each day ended with a dip in the river to cool down and clean up.
In addition, professional fisherman Steve Wisdom of Birmingham, AL, arranged for his sponsors, Zebco and Vicious Fishing, to donate 10 rod and reel combos for us to take to the orphanage. It was certainly a pleasure to introduce many of the boys to fishing with a rod and reel for the first time! We are very appreciative to have the involvement of fine companies like Zebco and Vicious Fishing supporting our efforts to provide assistance to these precious children!
Our trip was capped off in typical fashion by a two day Amazon River fishing excursion at Otorongo Jungle Lodge, a first class eco-tourist destination located about 2 1/2 hours by boat down the Amazon River from Iquitos. We were accompanied by three of the older boys from Puerto Alegria, who had recently moved into the city of Iquitos to work and study. Taking the young men fishing with us was a great opportunity to see the fruit that Puerto Alegria was helping cultivate in their lives. The fishing grounds were Oxbow Lakes off the main channel of the Amazon River and our target species were Peacock Bass, Arowana, Pacu and Piranha. The local guides literally lived in thatch huts on the shores of the lake, and they took us out in handmade canoes to some of the most pristine waters I have ever seen. As we fished down the bank, monkeys would sing and dance from tree to tree. We caught all the Piranha we wanted with several trophy Arowana and a few Peacock Bass mixed in. The time we spent on the lake with the boys was monumental, as it was likely the first time many of them fished recreationally and not out of necessity.
Looking back on the trip, we received far more than we gave and were blessed with an experience that we will never forget. It was truly amazing to feel the Lord soften our hearts and fill us with so much love for these kids in short a short period of time. It was also an incredible opportunity to unite two passions of our heart, providing love and assistance to orphans and adventure sport fishing. Now we are left counting down the days until we can return to see all of our newfound friends at the Puerto Alegria orphanage!