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The Amazon Times 1: Iquitos

Posted by Engin Kaban on October 12, 2010

The Amazon Times 1: Iquitos

I have passed 1 week in Iquitos, the biggest city of the Peruian Amazons. I
will briefly share my impressions for this period of time;

–          Iquitos is the largest settlement in the world without road
connection. Main connection way is riverway. I flew in, and will continue by
river.

–          By the time I step outside the plane, I was welcomed by hot
weather (35-40C) and humidity (90%)

–          It never rained in 1 week. There is no winter-summer here. Only
dry and wet seasons. And right now it’s the end of dry season. Therefore the
water level in rivers is at its lovest. As I have heard, the wet season is
really really wet. Therefore this was my main criteria of timing to be here
in the dry season.

–          Main transportation within the city is the 3-wheel-motos. There
are thousands of them and they create an amazing chaos and noise in the
city. There are also few weird-looking buses. The buses nor the motos have
any windows; so you feel the breeze as you go.

–          Unfortunately, in the city there is an important sex-business
especially targeted at tourists. It is very common that children work as
prostitutes. I even hear stories that people in tourism sector are marketing
their own girls to tourists. Seeing 40-50 year-old tourist men with 15-20
year-old local girls is very common. Amazon women are more sexy in
comparison to average Peruvians. Also there is an obvious amount of
homosexuals.

–          The city is quite dangerous in general, especially some parts.

–          It is possible to try some special foods and drinks for the
Amazon area.

–          As I reach the city, I bought a hammock and a mosquito-net; the
musts for anyone living in the Amazons.

–          Here I met some people selling artcrafts on the street. Later I
met 2 New Zealanders through these people. These “wise” guys have decided to
buy a boat and cross the Amazons themselves. They neither can speak any word
in Spanish nor have any idea about the area. It is almost impossible to
finish this journey safely. With them and some more local people we went to
some interesting districts of the city to search and bargain for boats. It
was a very interesting experience.

–          With a Peruvian that I met in the city, we went to a native
community that lives in the jungle. We were hosted by an amazing family. The
idea was to stay 1 day, I stayed 4.

–          This is a community that speaks their own language (as well as
broken Spanish), living in their own world in the jungle but also in
connection with the outer-world. They are quite interesting and incredibly
hospitable. Together we fished, had walks in the jungle, rowed in the river,
saw many weird plants and animals etc…

–          All houses are built approximately 2 meters high from ground
level on stakes. In dry season they are high, but in wet season they are in
the middle of the water; only reachable by boats.

–          I felt very weird wearing my gore-tex trekking boots while all
locals always hang around barefoot. But I can’t do anything.

–          The river is everything for people living in the jungle.
Transportation method, drinking water, socializing place, sewerage, laundry,
toilet, trash, resource of food etc..

–          I have visited a butterfly farm that is run by an Austrian woman
who has been living in the jungle for 30 years. There were also monkeys,
parrots, sloth animals and a jaguar.

–          Mosquitos are not as bad as I was scared of. Usually I use my
sprey. As it is dry season, there are not many mosquitos.

–          I have been hearing stories of robbery and pirates attacking the
boats traveling on the river, from first person. No urban-legends. Quite
exciting.

–          My next stop will be the 3-border-point of Peru, Colombia and
Brazil; and then the Colombian Amazons.

–          Stay tuned…

Engin Kaban

October 12th 2010 – Leticia

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2 Responses to “The Amazon Times 1: Iquitos”

  1. Miguel Bichara said

    Wonderful experiences! I enjoyed them a lot!

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