Travel Intern: Back to work after a….Peruvian appendectomy!?!

Ed: This was written 7 days ago, but we were only able to post it now. We’ll have another update from Isabel very soon.

Hello, this is Appropedia Travel intern, Isabel.

I arrived in Costa Rica today after a series of interesting detours…

My last blog was written about a month ago from the dreamy town of Mancora, Peru where I was attending a refresher week of Spanish classes and falling in love with surfing. I left Mancora near the end of June, feeling healthy and once again confident with my Spanish skills.

I accompanied my fried Kat to the airport in Lima, sad to see her go, but excited to dive into my internship with a visit to the office of Soluciones Practicas, an incredible organization using appropriate technology to address poverty in Peru.

Unfortunately, the day before my appointment, I began having terrible stomach pains and the owner of my hostel, Francis, insisted that I visit the hospital. After 11 hours in the emergency room and a myriad of tests, I was told I had appendicitis and needed to have surgery…right there in the Lima Hospital. I will soon be posting a personal blog with all of the exciting and nitty-gritty details of the Peruvian appendectomy and 5 days spent in the hospital.

For the purposes of this blog, I will say only that it was a life changing experience. I will also say that I couldn’t have done it without the kindness of a stranger, Francis Chauvel, owner of  Albergue Miraflores House Hostel.  He stayed with me in the ER, contacted my family, visited me in the hospital everyday, and threw a Welcome home partyfor me when I came back to the hostel!!! …Thanks Francis!

During my stay at the hospital, my mother (who was perhaps more traumatized by the experience than I was) asked me to come home to recover. I happily complied with her request and spent the monthof July in Tennessee with my family, following the doctor ordered diet (which was quite restrictive) and sleeping off the anesthesia in my system. After a full month of rest I feel both mentally and physically strong and ready to continue traveling.

I am excited to visit a few projects in Panama and Costa Rica and to return to Rancho Mastatal, an environmental learning and sustainable living center, which has become somewhat of a second home to me in Costa Rica.

As always, my schedule is flexible and I welcome suggestions for projects and places to visit in Panama and Costa Rica.

Hopefully I will have better luck this time around!

Thanks for checking in, Isabel

Isabell Kimbrough: First Travel Intern, First Blog

Exploring a lake in the Amazon
Hola! Isabell Kimbrough here! I have begun my journey and stint as Appropedia’s first travel intern.  (Follow the links for more info.)

In a nutshell, I just graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Botany and a passion for conservation and sustainable living. I saved my pennies for quite some time in order to do some traveling in South and Central America; and while I commend those who are able to travel free as a breeze, I come from a world of structure and need to feel that I am on some sort of mission as I wander. This is where Appropedia fits in. Members of the board of Appropedia had already birthed the idea of the “travel intern”, someone who would, during their travels, visit and report on successful projects for Appropedia. My internship is the trial run of this idea. I am excited and honored to have this opportunity.

I have begun my adventures and am writing from the rainforest town of Puerto Maldanado, Peru. My dearest friend Kat Fountain has been working on a conservation project in the state of Madre de Dios Peru , deep in the Amazon. It just so happened that she needed a field assistant and I just so happened to be a qualified biologist. What luck! So I joined her at the Sachavacayoc field station, a center for research, education and ecotourism. For a week we rose before the sun and spent the day exploring and experiencing the incredible Amazon rainforest.

This Amazonian hardwood tree named "La Purma" is 500 years old!

I have learned a lot in a week, not only about the local flora and fauna, but also about the situation of the people. Those working to protect and conserve this incredibly rich and biodiverse region of Peru face many threats and obstacles to conservation including (but not limited to): mining and subsequent mineral contamination in the water, logging for hardwoods, cattle farming, drilling for Petroleum, and slash and burn agriculture. The situation is, of course, very complicated and when taken as a whole, has the potential to be a little overwhelming. However, many of the conservationists and scientists I have spoken with here have a great deal of hope.

I personally find a sparkle of hope in this: There are many people and organizations whose sole (and soul) purpose is to protect this precious piece of the world. One of the biggest problems conservationists faced is that the lack of communication between groups and organizations who share the same goals. Call me idealistic, but it is my belief that as infrastructure for communication improves and these groups continue to collaborate and organize, the looming problems I mentioned before are well within our power to change. As we all know, even the biggest changes happen poco a poco.

This is why I am grateful to be a part of the Appropedia community. Every page, and each connection made, is a step towards change. Perhaps some of you have heard the expression “the revolution will not be televised!” I agree. I think it is being documented in Appropedia.org!

Till next time… Isabell

Appropedia’s Travel Intern Program Initiative: Dock to doc

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the organizations that are working to reduce poverty and help us live both richly and sustainably had the resources to share their best ideas and practices? Of course! (Okay, maybe that was too easy. )

(Port of Callao, Peru by Jim O'Hagan, via Mediawiki Commons)

But we know that most of these organizations are already overcommitted and that thoroughly documenting a project is a big job. Meanwhile, there are lots of folks that want to help make the world a better place, and are quite willing to travel as part of the effort.  But very often the willing traveler is no more knowledgeable than local workers, and so it is hard to justify traveling in-country to lend a hand.

Aha moment.

Juxtaposing these tensions provides a nice little epiphany. Traveling interns can make excellent documenters.  Documenting great projects at Appropedia helps all parties.  The traveling intern learns a ton.  The host project gets some deserved recognition and awareness.  The broader community gets to see well-written, in-depth information that will, ultimately, get categorized, linked and translated for greatest usefulness.

To this end, Appropedia has begun prototyping our Travel Internship program.  Appropedia’s first travel intern, Isabell (Liz) Kimbrough, is already in-country in Peru. She has already coordinated with some partners, but still has room in her itinerary to visit (and document) other projects in Peru (June), Ecuador (July), Colombia (July)  and Panama (August).  And so, we hereby launch the Travel Intern Initiative to invite everyone to help make Isabell’s trip better.  We also want to prepare for broader participation in (and promotion of) our Travel Intern program later this year, so that you can head for the dock, and get your documentation thing on.

Please take a look at these pages to learn more about the program, and find ways you can help it have the most impact:

  • See Isabell’s itinerary to learn where she’s going, or add a potential project or partner for her or a future Travel Intern.
  • Would you (or a friend)  like to be a Travel Intern? Practice writing articles and show your stuff! And check out the application process.
  • How can we make the Travel Intern program better?  Leave a note on this page, or a leave a comment on this blog post!
  • Visit the Travel Intern Initiative launch page for more details.

Please help us spread the word about this program.  Use Twitter, Facebook or your blog to share it with potential interns or partners.  If you’re as excited as we are about this program, and have an hour a week to help out, consider a stint stewarding this Initiative!