International Expeditions' Director of Operations Tara Ellison took a moment to check-in from Iquitos, Peru, where she is preparing to spend a week on our Amazon River cruise .
Today we visited a library on the Amazon founded in 1999 by Dr. Nancy Dunn for the local children. Free lending libraries are uncommon in this part of the world. As you can see, it's high water here in the Amazon. It was worth wading through the water to visit with these children! While this is officially the local library, there are also after-school programs, spelling bees, music classes and even computer classes. The library currently serves 12 surrounding communities. Once a child reads 50 books, they get to pick a book to take home with them to keep. The top reader last year read 650 books! The library also offers scholarships to university. Books are very expensive in Iquitos, and many of the children who came to the library when it first opened had never seen a book before. I asked the local director what the most popular book had been this year. It turns out, Peru isn't that different from the U.S., the most popular book was The Hunger Games.