Summer Rain in Iquitos
Hot, steamy Iquitos was one of our last stops in Peru. After five days on a stinky boat surrounded by hundreds of other sweaty bodies, we were glad to set foot on (relatively) solid land again. Iquitos is the largest city in the world which is not reachable by any road. The only way in (or out) is by river on the Amazon or Ucayali, or a plane over miles of thick jungle. It’s an awesome feeling being surrounded by unspoiled jungle in every direction for literally hundreds of kilometers before the next city of any size. Unbroken only by thatched riverside villages, the occasional sugar cane field, or banana plantations, the jungle literally swallows you up. Makes you feel so small and insignificant… Lost out in the middle of such a beautifully wild environment.
I write this now, as we sit in Pucallpa’s port, waiting for the boat to leave for Iquitos: Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, or the next day. Things just work a little differantly here… We arrived in steamy Pucalla straight from the cool central Andes after a long eighteen-hour bus ride though what is supposed to be the most drug-infested area of Peru. About two in the morning, the bus was boarded by a police officer armed with a semi-automatic machine gun who asked for a “protection donation”. We knew we were going to be in for something interestesting in this deep jungle town… Pucallpa proved to hide adventure and interest in many unexpected places, and heat, humidity, and mosquitos aside, and incedibly beautiful place to interact with the people, the culture, and the landscape of the jungle.
Lena on the Peke-Peke
From the highland of Cusco, we headed east for the sweltering jungle port town of Puerto Maldonado. Lena was less than excited, with the prospect of heat and mosquitoes awaiting her. We spent almost two weeks, sweating in hammocks, swatting bugs of all shapes and sizes, riding in rickety canoes called Peke-Pekes headed for strange jungle settlements miles from any roads… I will even admit: It wasn’t the most comfortable two weeks of my life, but it did provide an interesting glimpse at jungle life- The real thing; where everyone’s uncle is a Shaman, small-scale gold mining is the main source of income, and platanos (bananas) are the main source of nutrition.