Monday, October 22, 2012

Iquitos, Peru: Rain at Belen Falls Mainly on the Dramatic Side

I often take a walk in the afternoon up to Belen Market if only to stand in the rambling lanes with their shady shelters of overhanging plastic roofs that keep the sun off me as I putter around with things to buy that I probably don't actually need, like insecticide, [see next post] and jungle potions in jars with exotic labels of I know not what. Sometimes I stand and chat up folks I've come to know, and sometimes I sit and chat. Mostly I walk around saying hello to folks, sometimes stopping to buy a particularly strange looking edible thing I haven't encountered previously, like alligator meat or giant, as opposed to tiny, maggots, which one traveler likened to "crunchy on the outside, watery peanut butter on the inside." Whatever my day is at the market, it's usually pleasant to pass the time with people there, regardless of the heat and the smells of urine, garbage, rotting meat and vegetables, oil, motorcar exhaust, choking charcoal smoke, dead semi-fresh fish, semi-not-so-fresh, and burnt or just plain spoiled, and the slime and the dogs, flies, and buzzards everywhere. I like it. It's a people place. It's a refuge from the hectic pace of the inner city. My retreat.

The sun was somewhat blistering in the afternoon, and that, as much as anything, prompted me to walk up to the market to look over some yellow, waxy chicken for the evening meal.Sometimes I find vegetables, though rarely, and thus I wonder if the place is genuinely healthy. I have friends who say it ain't. Medical types who work there with the residents. But what do they know?

Inside the market at my leisure I noticed the sky turning grey and felt a few drops of rain on my arm as the overheated day became suddenly milder. After me came the deluge. It was almost instant. [Click on photos to enlarge.]

Vendors scrambled to save their wares from the water, and others hid under every available cover as the rain came. 

To me, after having suffered from the worst climate known to man, i.e. the perpetual rainforest of Vancouver, Canada, an outdoors kind of guy as a rule who now hates the very thought of rain, the sudden downpour was pretty. Or at least highly dramatic. But pretty.

 I could almost call it fun, the water being warm and clean, the relief from the heat welcome enough.

Rivers of water poured from tarps and sheets of plastic over wooden stalls.

People pulled in their goods and wrapped them to save them from the rain.We huddled together and waited and chatted, there being no fire to flee, the rain coming and going as naturally as breathing.

It's the kind of rain one can like, clean and clear and warm.

 It comes down hard.

It washes away some of the filth. As the garbage washes down the lanes the vendors and tienda owners, a couple very pretty and happy and talkative, put out poles to push the debris farther along so it doesn't stop and create a dam that would flood everyone and destroy things.

The ladies above picked at rubbish and sent it flowing downstream to the next stall where a man has lost his pole and had to borrow one or face flooding, as would all around him, the water already well above a man's ankles.

the rain stopped after an hour or so, and life carries on, accumulating and dissolving, growing and decaying, another day on the Amazon at Belen.

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