Reflections on my trip to Iquitos
While I waited to get on the big old ferry that would take me to Iquitos, I watched the dark, leaden sky of Yorimaguas, a smiling Amazonian town. We were on the right bank of the Rio Huallaga, in the Peruvian state of Loreto completely immersed in the Amazon rainforest; the ferry had already loaded those strange humpbacked tropical cattle and I had bought food, water and a hammock to sleep on. Tying the hammock in the lounge I turned and saw on the right the magnificent legs of Alejandra, a beautiful volunteer nurse from Seville, already lying in her hammock, while on the left she settled Vanita, a sweet "chica" from Iquitos with her grandson.
When the "launch", slightly delayed, began navigating the dark waters of the Rio Huallaga, I realized that there were no mosquitoes; they explained to me that the ventilation created by the motion of the ferry bothered them.
Despite the presence of the sweet Vanita and the superb Alejandra, it seemed a negative thing to me, since almost all the "natives" traveled with cardboard boxes that made a lot of noise: there were all fighting cocks inside! Lying in the hammock by the window, I began to look out at the green of the forest and the towering "lupunas", the parrots and birds in flight, the rare huts along the banks, the gray sky with clouds and the murky water of the river. .
Every two or three hours the ferry stopped, boarding or unloading someone or something; potatoes, baskets of bananas, Indians or animals. In the torchlight night, the only sign of civilization were the boots of the "natives" and the only sound the ferry engine.
The river widened and I knew we were entering the rio maranon, the river of piranas; from here in 1542 had descended Francisco de Orellana, lieutenant of the conquistadors Pizzarro and Almagro, who then had first sailed the entire course of the Amazon, up to the mouth. Seeing warrior women on the banks, the Spanish explorer had called the river after the ancient Amazons.
Vanita told me about Iquitos and the Jesuits who founded it, about the great rubber epic that made it, with Manaus, the world capital of rubber. Alejandra, beautiful, attractive and with "dreadlock" hair, told me that she would go to see the "natives" on the Nanay river, one of the many right tributaries of the great river.
The ferry meal was inedible and the bathrooms disgusting, then the river seemed to become a lake and then we were in the Ucayali river, inside the primary arm of the Amazon, so there was little to Iquitos, only the night.
The hammock had made me sore and the roosters unnerved, when at first light, in the caliginous haze, the landing stage of the city of Iquitos appeared, already enveloped in great heat and in its inexorable misery. It was not yet eight o'clock that I had settled down 50 meters from the "plaza", in a beautiful hostal "la casona", for only 10 euros per night. In front of the Eldorado, the only 5-star hotel in the city at 60 euros, I called a young shoeshine to make him happy, who passed me a local sheet of the iquitos time. There was the drawing of an American explorer from Oklaoma, attacked 150 km from there, by a 9-meter anaconda: the American, a very hard nut, had resisted and then helped by guides with rifles had pardoned the monstrous reptile .
Around two, after an excellent "cebiche" I left the restaurant and came across a splendid smile, it was her, the divine Alejandra.
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