In 1998 the Araona supplied the boats and crews that transported the ICE 1998 Expedition from Puerto Araona to the Palmasola camp. The Pamasola camp is the farthest point downriver from Puerto Araona that serves as a launch area for the expedition on the trail to the crater. This would be the trailhead.
Fast forward to 2002 and the circumstances appear to be much different. The boats are not available to the expedition for reasons that are not immediately clear. The boats are at the bottom of the river - maybe? Or the motors are inoperable - maybe? Regardless, one must wonder how the Araona could let this happen since they need the boats to reach their traditional hunting camps and Palmasola ( a place of sinifigance for the Araona people). Without these boats the Araona population at large would be confined to Puerto Araona and not able to reach to the 35 kilometer distant Palmasola. It is currently unclear whether the expedition team will have access to the boats for the 3 day journey to Riberalta or the alternative - a 2 hour plane trip from Puerto Araona. The negotiations continue until tommorrow.
If we gain access to the Araona boats then Pilo will captain the vessel. He is an old friend from the 1998 expedition when he escorted us upriver as boat pilot.
A second alternative has appeared on the scene - The Bolivian Navy! This is curious concept since Bolivia is landlocked but they might have boats available to transport the team into the field.
Another dispute has arisen - the Araona have insisted that the crater is on their land. Their land is a very specific piece of indigenous territory with boundaries recognized by the Bolivian government and the expedition. Based on the GPS readings from 1998 the location of the crater is clearly defined to be outside the Araona territory. A map is being prepared to demostrate the locations for relevant features and territory boundaries (this map should be available in tommorrows dispatch).
An interesting outreach in Bolivia is being undertaken. A member of the model airplane club here in Santa Cruz will be accompanied by an 18 year old bilingual son of one of the members of the Museo board of directiors. They will be assigned to the MAGPLANE team. With this arrangement we can work toward a bilingual presentation of the MAGPLANE activity.
Each day the two Peters (the advance team) walk at least 8 kilometers. Preparing for the long hike into the raiforest.