Monday, September 10, 2012

Iquitos, Peru: San Juan Market, Part Three (of 3)

I came to Iquitos by boat, first from Pucallpa up the Ucayali River and then from Columbia down the Amazon. In all cases I missed the aeroport. That made it easy for me to miss the San Juan Market, which might be geared toward those who fly in and out and buy up stuff without really entering the heart of the city. For me, mostly centred in the middle of town, the San Juan Market, way out by the aeroport, is easy to miss as is missing Belen Market for the upscale tourist.

Happily for me I can do it all if I can know about it and then find it. The San Juan Market is simple to find, one just has to know to look for it. There are things there I haven't seen elsewhere, and things that I have but didn't notice at all. Unlike the market stalls down the Malecon by the river I had my time mostly to myself at the San Juan Market, wandering freely and browsing at my leisure, taking photos without people demanding that I buy something. In fact, I did buy something, and I am definitely going back to get the swinging monkeys on a hoop. Lots of stuff that one won't see elsewhere at this market, but mostly it is peaceful, if one can think of shopping as anything other than a matter of nagging worry over the promise of stuff fading into the reality of possession and regret and fear of loss. If I had a bottle with a genie inside and could make three wishes, I don't think I'd wish for anything stuff-like at all. But,  no genie means I might actually put some money into buying a cool bottle a genie might like to live in. Maybe I'd buy a chair and just sit and think about things of no real importance, like saving the earth.

I'd want a nice chair to sit in to goof off for all of my days. As is, it won't fit in my pack, so I must pass for now and hope someday I have a place to call my own and to put my own chair into. I could then sit. I could sit for a long time.

I could lounge around in a hammock, but I really don't like them. I always fear the rope will break and I will fall and cripple myself. I am now working in the second hammock of this trip, as well as my sith pair of shoes. I could lie down for a while, but I walk around and see things instead, not having a cool chair to sit in.

A hammock, though, is easy to cram into my pack, and I have one stored in Canada, a beautiful thing I got years ago in Nicaragua. It's decorative. I really don't want to have another one. A bunch of photos of hammocks, though, works well indeed.

There are a lot of ex-pat businessmen in Iquitos who are swimming in money due to the aeroport bringing in tourists with tons on cash to spend of souveniers. I like a lot of what I see, and if I had the cash and a place to put everything I like, I might well go for some boat oars painted pretty and I would hang them on a wall and think of the fishermen I've seen who use the same design, though without the fancy paint jobs. Many ex-pat business put such stuff on their walls, and it works. It looks fine and the locals make a bit from it as well. Well, maybe not so much from me. There is the aeroport, though.

I assume there is even a market segment of minimalist tourist who wants a pair of working paddles. Or maybe a pair unpainted simply await the buyers design.

It's not all store-bought stuff retailed at stalls in the market. There are people who make what they sell in their stalls. It sometimes doesn't look so romantic as it would at home on display. Part of the beauty of it is that one might see something being made on the spot. It becomes real, in a sense, the work of a person rather than the product of machinery.

Machines are good, in my opinion, allowing us all to have something rather than nothing while the rich have it all in its highest.I settle for plastic when I must. Wood is better. I am even better than wood, I like to think so.

So we chatted between the walls till the moss grew up and covered up our lips. But no, that would be Emily Dickenson. We, my neighbour and I, talked with craftsmen and vendors and folks at the market, people who were nice to us and happy to chat. Truth, beauty, stuff, people, it's all a good day.

Well, rattle my skulls, it came time to move along, and in the moving I got some stuff after all. Chances are the chances are I'll sneak back sometime and splurge on those swinging monkeys, me being a philistine of no good taste at all. maybe some birds, fish, and some butterflies. Love that stuff.

And when I'm gone things will continue as they do all the time, men and women living the life of the market day to day in the Amazon, no news at all, just a day in the life.

 A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:

And here are some reviews and comments on said book:

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