Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A quick farewell

Off to catch a boat to Pebas and then Brillo Nuevo. I´ll be back in Iquitos (with Internet) in 13 days. Can´t wait to tell you all about it.

Iquitos, the city of sweat and buzz

We say that the jungle teems with macaws, monkeys and mosquitoes. We paint the Amazon River blue and green with hints of red.

But so far, I haven´t seen that. This riverbank is green, but also gray and yellow with a fringe of purple lights. It has a playground with screaming children in collared shirts. There´s a cement boardwalk. A short wrinkly man sells monkey and bear balloons. There´s a bar on the river that serves Pisco sour with lime, sugar and beaten egg white. Whitney Houston belts through the bars´speakers. ¨Iiiiiiiii will always love youoooouuuu...¨

This is Iquitos, a city of more than 400,000 on the Amazon River, the largest city in the world that has no roads connecting it to the outside.

Cars are a novelty here. Instead, motorcycles and ¨motokars¨-- three-wheeled motorbike taxis with room for two passengers -- zip through the streets. The motorcycles create a constant buzz in the city, like a troop of mosquitos that circles your head.

Iquitos is not completely disconnected from its surrounding rainforest. It is sweaty, sticky and flat.

The city lights up at night, but the river plummets into darkness as the sun sets. Friends and couples stroll along the river, holding hands and looking out into the jungle. The Amazon River seems so distant now, swallowed by mystery.