Medical Mission

We gathered a huge amount of equipment at home and as we traveled into the Amazon we culled down the equipment to what we believed would be the best things to have on hand while in the jungle. The Team was amazing. With the broad expertise of a nurse, para-medics and an engineer; God had hand picked a great combination.

The team set up the church as a clinic and had stations for check-in, pharmacy, triage and consultation. The church turned out to be a solar cooker and even with the huge amount of stress working in the heat for two days, plus the massive amounts of bugs that attacked from the dirt floor, not even a single breath of displeasure was voiced. In total our team saw 116 people over two days. What a huge blessing for the people of Dos de Mayo and a huge blessing for us.

As people walked out of the jungle they were registered at a check in by Reyna our Peruvian nurse, moved on to John, John, Craig and Rich for triage. Alivia handled the shots and handing out the meds. Ed kept track of the Pharmacy. It worked! BUT!! was really hard have to give these the med team huge props, they suffered in that hot box, were devoured by bugs and stayed in there and got it done. It was so much harder than my tasks, only after I had returned from the trail and shortwave radio did I realize how much they had gone through.....It was so bad that even with the heat they had to wear long pants and shirts tapped down to keep the bugs out. 

The one relief was the late afternoon swim in the little river that flowed by the village.. (And a bunch of bug repellent) ....
Up-Date on our fuel issues.

As you read this it may be a bit of a shock that we were stranded 390 miles deep in the jungle with no fuel and needing 190 gallons to get back to the beginning of the only road that leads to an airport and our ticket home.....

We had planned on having a canoe with a peci-peci bring fuel to withing 40 miles of our destination, but once we discovered that we were in trouble we had to get a hold of the crew in that boat and have them bring the fuel all the way to our location. If not for the fact that the shortwave radio was working in Dos de May we wouldn't have been able to do so... With the Sat-phone we may have called out for help but it would have been 3 days before anyone could come...We wouldn't have starved but we would have missed our flight possibly. 

The whole issue was caused by the boat owner who had never been to Dos de Mayo, even though this guy is the director of tourism in the area and has many boats taking people all over the river. Needless to say when I went into rescue mode I was up-set. Using my best Spanish, I let those guys know what huge idiots they were and they only had to tell me the truth about how much fuel they had and let me give my input. Never again will I hire a boat and let the control of our logistic get out of my hands.

Our ability to mobilize our team in Santa Rita to transport fuel is what ended up saving our butts. When we radioed Santa Rita they purchased every gallon of fuel in town and loaded up a borrowed canoe and peci-peci and headed off for a difficult journey. They ran the fuel up river for two days to meet the fuel boat that we turned around from Dos de Mayo to intercept them and then turn around to meet us at check point 4, about 100 miles round trip. These guys busted their humps to get us fuel to get out of the jungle. 

So we loaded fuel in Dos de Mayo, intercepted the second canoe 150 miles down river with the first canoe, had it turn back around to meet us at the 100 mile point. We then transferred that fuel on the river, ran down to San Jose to pick another 80 gallons that we had arranged to have dropped off by the ferry,.

Day One:

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, I was able to use the satellite phone as a phone but every time I tried to get it to work as a modem, my computer would lock up. I worked on the issue while in Dos de Mayo but with all the issues we were having I didn't want to waste batteries in case things really fell apart.

So here we go, this is the updates as I wrote them while up river.....

Even as I write this, Alivia and the Doctor are working to help a baby from Santa Rita with the flu….Its a little tough with a language barrier but we are working though the issues step by step.

Our boat ride to Santa Rita went really well, The trip from Nauta took just 3 hours! We were a bit over-loaded but beyond that it went well….

By the time we left Iquitos we were on our third Doctor, # 1 broke his leg, # 2 had to work all night in the hospital and couldn’t leave, but # 3 was just the guy we needed. Doctor Antonio is connected with the Health system in this part of the jungle. When we arrived in Santa Rita the 1st Doctor had left town to get his leg set, but he didn’t talk to the nurses at the clinic and give them authorization to release the medication that we had purchased. She required us to phone the number two guy in the medical system to get authorization to take the meds. It just so happened that Antonio knows the guy and has been up river and had the required level of background that the “head Doc” told the nurse to give “JungleMaster” whatever they needed. Problem solved! The “wrong” guy was the right guy to have when things went south. Thankfully no complications so far……..

At 8am we leave for Dos de Mayo, we have our permit, Meds, cook and Doctor. Our goal is to reach Hamburgo aka Check point 6. We’ll stay the night there and head for Dos de Mayo the next morning, about 3 hours up river from there.

Pray for safety and Logistics.

Day two –To Dos De Mayo.

We now have our Peruvian nurse, Doctor Antonio and the medicines loaded on the boat and ready to go.

Last night we were discussing fuel and consumption; with the information we received, realized once again, that we didn’t have enough fuel for our expedition. We ended up purchasing an extra 55 gallons in Santa Rita and loaded up a canoe with the fuel, to run it up river to drop off it as a back up. Once we are returning from Dos De Mayo we will be able to pick the fuel up on the river bank and refuel the boat. The fuel issue was a big point of argument on who knew what, how much the engine burned per hour and how far we had to go. The fact is that I know boats, Ed Alm has a GPS and he had mapped out just how far we had to travel using Google Earth. By the end of this journey I think we’ll know who was right…..

I’m writing this in the boat and we have just past Check point one, the river is chocked with Lilly pads, slight over cast and it’s relatively cool for the jungle. The jungle here is dense, so much so that it would take a huge effort just to travel inland a few feet. Trees along the river form a barrier wall to anyone trying to penetrate into its depths, it’s like a 100 foot tall wall, backed up with a footing of impenetrable brush all entangled as a solid surface. Even Home Base doesn’t have enough green paint samples to cover the multitude of colors along the river. The further we travel, the narrower the river, once we reach Dos de Mayo it will only be a few yards wide. Check point two is just a few miles ahead, more soon I hope.

At check point 3 we picked up a Park Ranger to guide us up river and offer a little extra layer of protection.. …IRENA; the park protection service had used the shortwave radio to call the check point and made, as a requirement for us, to take our new passenger “Israel” with us.

Now late in the day; we only made check point 4, but we were able to get in early enough that we could get settled. This check point has a bunk house and a facility for visitors, other than the ranger had just used a few gallons of gasoline to kill bugs by spraying it on all of the floors it was great, but we elected to use the other “bug filled” house to hang hammocks in and pass on the bug free version.

Everyone is doing great, Thankfully; no problems thus far…

Tom and team…..

Day Three Arrival in Dos de Mayo.

Leaving at 7 am we are making good time, the motorista continued to slow down and not until later did we discover why.

At check point 5 we passed our fuel boat (they had traveled all night) This later would prove to be a bad idea. But we made it to Hamburgo with no issues.

Hamburgo to Dos de Mayo should have been two hours, the motorista had slowed to 15 mph and we were sneaking up on three hours when we started to have issues, twice the engine died before it finally died with just a mile to go. It soon became apparent that the motorista lied to us about how many gallons of fuel we had started out with and that we were painfully short of fuel. It may be 1 mile to Dos de Mayo but we were 390 miles from civilization……

I jumped to the rear of the boat to take over the control of the issues. All of the operators of the boat said there was “NO” more fuel as I yelled back to them that there was always more and we needed to pour everything together in one small diameter container to be able to use whatever was left. They were adamant there was nothing left so I pushed them aside as we were losing ground against the river and I was just a bit upset that they had lied to me and assured me they knew what they were doing.

I did find fuel in the 55 gallon drum and poured it in a 2 gallon container, the other two containers added a few drops and I had about an inch of fuel in the small container. I primed the engine and used about half of our precious fuel, pulled the choke and yelled, “Vamanos” ..Lets Go…The engine fired off and we had head way, I was yelling, “slowly and keep to the right bank of the river, stay close enough that when it dies we can pull in immediately.” The fuel vanished in a minute and I had just the fuel in the hose; knowing it was moments before the engine died for the last time, I looked up and saw that the operator was following the left side of the river, now I was yelling forward and had to explain why I had told them what I wanted, “WE Have just a moment left and Dos de Mayo is on the OTHER side of the river, when it dies we need to WALK, and I CAN’T walk across the WATER..MOVE OVER NOW!......”. This seemed to cement the issue of leadership and they moved the boat, I yelled again, “When I tell you, turn in to the beach, DO NOT let the boat drift..” Seconds later the last of the fuel was burnt and I yelled forward for them to turn, the engine was slowing and I knew that pulling the choke would give me a couple more seconds, just enough to get to the shore. When we had stopped we were within a half mile or so of the step of point for the trail into Dos de Mayo.

So here we were; half the team took up the adventure of hiking through the jungle to Dos de Mayo and the other half waited in the boat. We were planning to get to the village and send a boat with a peci-peci back to tow in the boat. I guess it was about 30 minutes of hacking through the jugle until we reached the check-point and the head of the river to Dos de Mayo and about another 30 minutes to Dos de Mayo.

Once in the village we found the church had constructed a guess house and even had a bathroom…. Maybe nothing you would recognize…

So the next day as the team prepared for the clinic, I hiked the 2 mile to the short wave radio to call out and arrange for a fuel drop. (not as easy as it sounds) I think by the time we had a plan in place to get fuel we were on plan “G”, having worked through the rest of the alphabet.

So here’s how it went:

Radioed Nauta to get hold of the owner of the boat. No one could find him, in the office or at home, worked through 5 phone numbers, no luck…radioed the check point to find our first planned fuel boat to make sure that they are still on the river.

Status; We found our fuel boat at check point 6, they were stalled because of permission; Check point six asked for medical help…my reply, “Fuel here, meds there”. They gave permission for the canoe to proceed to Dos de Mayo….

Status; 55 gallons on the way,… all the way to Dos de Mayo.

Status; still short 80 gallons.

Radioed Santa Rita, gave them 5 phone numbers for the owner of the boat, and the names of two people to relay information to him. No one could reach him.

Radioed San Jose to prepare them for the possible fuel drop and arrange for someone to pick up the fuel and start it up-river. The owner needed to get the fuel on the ferry that day to give us enough time to get it up river so that we can make it out on time.

Radioed Santa Rita had them try all of the phone numbers, no one can get the owner.

Radioed Check point 3 to see if the launch from the university was still there and if we could get fuel from them…the launch left the day before.

Radioed Santa Rita, asked if one of the local venders, “Gustavo’ had any fuel left, he had none but could get some in two day…too long we needed fuel now. Asked him if there was any other fuel in Santa Rita, he said he would check and radio back. Gustavo called back and said he wasn’t sure how much and he would buy everything in Santa Rita and get it started on a canoe to Dos de Mayo as soon as he could.

Status; possibly, we have enough fuel on the way….

Total was 3 hours on the radio and a 4 mile hike in the jungle. My expectation was that we would have the first boat in by 4:30 and it was 5pm when they arrived. Then around 7pm we found out that check point one had radioed up that a canoe had just passed them heading for us with 80 gallons of fuel on board.


Its never easy traveling in the jungle, trusting people and equipment, and changes in plan are the norm. Thankfully no complications so far.
After a day and a half without any sleep we arrived in Iquitos Monday morning. Trying to sleep at the Airport was kinda un fruitful, our layover in Lima was only 5 hours, that's not enough time to run into the city get a hotel and return, so we elected to just hang out and wait for our next flight. Everyone had their own little place to curl up and try to sleep but it just doesn't work well.

We did have a little excitement getting through customs, every bag with medical supplies got red lighted. That meant that we received a physical inspection. I'm not sure why they let us through without duties, both the ladies working the counter weren't too happy about  us not declaring the bags of supplies we had; maybe it was our ONG, maybe our promises to be better the next time or our plea for the people of the jungle, but the head inspector just shook her head and said "You can go, just next time declare your stuff first."

The flight to Iquitos was OK, we just had the oldest 737-200 still in the air, The two flight attendents had to put a little shoulder into it to get the door shut. Our original plan was to head straight to Nauta and be in Santa Rita Monday evening but we had some issues getting a permit to enter the National Reserve. Lucho was able to get the permit in hand buy mid-day, we thankfully used the day to rest  instead.

Oh yeah, we also had to change doctors at the last minute, the original Doctor broke his leg.

Tuesday at 8am we will take all of our gear plus the doctor, and our staff to Nauta, get on the boat and be in Santa Rita around 4pm. If this post is a bit funny sounding its because I need to sleeeeeep.. So see ya and keep praying. Two more things, I'm still struggling with the Sat-Phone, it now connects but locks up my computer, some kinda conflict...I still think I will get it to work but don't worry if we lose contact.....and we all are doing great! The group is doing well and I think I can say for each one of us that we are fitting together really great!

See ya soon...Tom
Hi there,

This should be cool! Sat-Phone is working now as a modem and I will be able to transmit from the deepest parts of the Amazon. My plan is to up load daily photos and moment by moment up-dates from the remote little village of Dos de Mayo. Forward This to Your Friends.....

We leave Sunday.
Check out   daily!!....
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This trip includes;
Rich Bosman, John Swobody, John Shorthill, Ed Alm, Alivia Danskin, Craig Johnson and Tom Clark; when we get to Iquitos we'll pick up my Director, Lucho Rios, Wilder and our cook Alan. Once we hit Santa Rita (180 Miles up river from Iquitos) we pick up two Peruvian nurses and the local Doctor. From Santa Rita we travel 120 miles up a side river to get to Dos de Mayo. We have a huge pile of medical supplies donated by many local agencies and companies.

OH yeah....If you
know me and picked up this "forward" from a friend, I need to get your e-mail to keep you posted..Send me a note and get on my list...

Check out my blog and see what happened on the last trip, it will blow you away!...

Want to help? Right now we could use your gift to offset our costs for medical supplies (drugs we purchased in Peru) and transportation. Go to and hit the donate link. Or you can mail a check to our office at 1323 Lincoln St. Bellingham, WA 98229

Pray for Safety and all of the Logistics of 600+ miles of jungle by boat....

Only for Him
Tom Clark