Thursday, December 13, 2012

Iquitos, Peru: A General Introduction

What on earth is interesting in Iquitos, Peru? Well, just about everything one could never imagine. From the city centre at the Plaza de Armas where one finds the Iron House, designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1860, shown at the Paris International Exhibition in 1878, and bought and shipped in pieces down the Amazon River to be a Rubber Baron's mansion till the boat got stuck in Iquitos and the building was sold and erected in two parts, one at the corner of the Plaza de Armas where it stands today; to Eiffel's metal bandstand in the world famous Belen Market area of 75,000 people; to the seeming million mototaxis, (officially only 25,000) whizzing past without regard to lanes and stop signs; to the city's architectural heritage of Italian and Portuguese hand painted-tile buildings, and the rough wood-plank houses either floating or built on stilts to escape-- sometimes and somewhat-- the annual rise of the Amazon; to the cemetery filled with the Lost Jews of Iquitos and the dead rubber tappers of German; and the nightlife of the Malecon Tarapaca by the riverside; the city, isolated from the world other than by flights in or out or by sometimes week long journeys by cargo boat, the largest city in the world not a connected to a nation by road, the city of Iquitos is planted firmly and happily in the jungle on the left bank of the river where life goes by peacefully and quietly and happily for those who come to visit, perhaps to drink ayahuasca in a mind- and even life-altering time of high hallucinations and vomiting in the pursuit of spiritual salvation. One can venture from the city to the innumerable lodges set in the deep jungle where one can see wildlife only to be seen in the Amazon, or one can go to town and eat the very animals one would see in the jungle, f.i., fried alligator tails or wild pig legs, baked beetle caterpillars and black and yellow turtles, and one can wash it down with camu-camu, a citrus drink with 50 times more vitamin C than the equivalent amount of orange juice. Charm, "Charapa culture," history, adventure, excitement, the great outdoors, Iquitos has it all in abundance. Yes, it is hot and sticky and sometimes it can rain, with an “average relative humidity of 85%.” The river is low from June to November and rises in 'the wet season' from November to May. It's just as hot and just as sticky whatever the relative humidity might mean. It's better than snow. I came for a few days on my way elsewhere, and I don't know now if I will ever leave. What a great place to be. Iquitos, Peru. Who would have thought!?

Iquitos in the "Dry Season"

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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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