Blog raju was right in guessing I was in Iquitos, Peru. Actually I just left Iquitos and now I’m in Lima. While in Iquitos, I got to spend some days in the Amazon jungle. It was rough going and an adventure to remember. Also, because of me, many mosquitoes did not have to go hungry. Those mosquitoes refuse to use condoms – so it’s our duty to feed their children!
The water was too high to see much wildlife, but I did enjoy listening to it while laying in my hammock at night. It’s like an orchestra: Frogs, birds, insects, monkeys and God knows what else.
The owner of the hostel where I stayed befriended me and told me many stories. He’s a very interesting fellow and an American. Many Americans (expats) leave the U.S. for destinations such as Peru because the U.S. has strayed too far from its original values. In Iquitos, as long as you’re willing to stand up for yourself, you can do pretty much what you wish. The government isn’t nearly as heavy-handed as it is in the U.S. There, you can purchase a parcel of jungle for very little money and then live on it without anybody pestering you. You can easily live off the fruit trees, fish and wildlife. Medicinal plants grow everywhere. I was able to sample many of them, and wild fruits, straight from the trees.
Ayahuasca compounds dot the jungle. Young whites from all over the world gather there to gain enlightenment from the shamans and the Ayahuasca. They maintain a strict diet and perform various meditations to this end. I met some of them and get the impression that they are refugees from a culture that no longer provides answers for them. I’ve heard that some of them end up with damaged minds. Not all the shamans are competent or sincere. They can charge large sums of money for this service.
The jungle tour I took was on the cheap. The guide didn’t charge as much as he should have. As a result, we (myself, the guide and a young Swiss fellow) ended up paddling for miles in a primitive canoe. When the rain came down in torrents, we paddling furiously while scooping the water out in an effort to get back to the village. We also got our canoe stuck among the trees while trying to take a shortcut. Things got hairy for a while. Except for a couple of spots, we couldn’t see the shore; trees and bushes were growing out of the water and, as far as we could tell, the shore could be miles away in either direction. The boat we took to the village initially was leaky and had torn plastic for cover. It rained on us then too. On the last day, we hiked through difficult terrain for over 15 kilometers. It was brutal and very muddy. We had to cross numerous creeks on rotted, slippery, logs. We did see monkeys, some interesting frogs (including a small one traditionally used for poisoned arrows) and a poor sloth that was destined to be cooked a few hours later. Protection for endangered species is weak at best. People do as they please.
I was invited to a birthday party at the village. I got to dance with the granny whose birthday it was. I think she’s a better dancer than I am. As I was chatting with the man who’d invited me, and realizing how drunk he was, a man laying on a hammock casually leaned over and vomited on the floor. Nobody gave it any notice – maybe because the floors were simply uneven planks with plenty of space for the vomit to seep through onto the ground below. In any case, I excused myself and made my way to my own hammock.
When the Swiss man asked me what time it was, I told him it didn’t matter around here. I suggested that somebody invent a Peruvian clock that features a man on a hammock who leans over and vomits each hour on the hour.