Monday, March 04, 2013

Iquitos, Peru: Writing ourselves the city

Over 100 years ago Iquitos, Peru was a world-famous city, one of the major hubs for the collecting and distribution of latex to a newly-modernizing world deeply in need of rubber products ranging from the gutta percha used to coat telegraph and telephone cables to to the seemingly endless need for car tyres once Charles Goodyear solved the sticky problem of vulcanising that eventually transformed human freedom and allowed the automobile industry to "take off"; and then on to the demand for macintoshes or rain coats and rubber boots for the masses in cold, wet climes. Rubber was in, and Iquitos was the place to be, at least till 1912, by which time the surviving rubber trees smuggled to Kew Gardens in central London had matured and had been further taken to Malaysia to be set in orderly rows of tree farms where the industrial harvest of latex was made more efficient, profitable, and workers' conditions were less brutal than they had been in the Amazon for far too long. With the switch to Asia, Iquitos lost its economic raison d'etre and the city, like an exotic jungle flower, wilted and, the bloom gone with the boom, the Iquitos sank back into the mud from which it had come.

To read the rest of this story, please turn to the following link;

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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