"Being together is like catching a sunbeam; each new memory we make reflects light hinting there is more to see and know."

August 5, 2015

Week 23 ~ An Amazon Experience

Well the past week was one of those kinds of July weeks that just wraps itself around your mind and stays there for as long as you want it to.  Diane and I decided to go to the Amazon jungle (the Selva).  We had heard so much about it and ever since childhood, stories of the “jungle” intrigued and excited our minds.  We left last Saturday and flew to Iquitos, with a short stop in Pucallpa and then on to Iquitos. Iquitos is the largest Peruvian city in the Amazon jungle. We enjoyed a few days in the city attending church, walking the streets and walking along the riverfront. Iquitos is the center of the mission.  People seemed to know of the Mormons (in a very favorable way) wherever we went. There are three stakes in Iquitos and we saw several ward meeting houses as we rode about.  We heard from one missionary there are about 80 missionaries in the surrounding area, towns, and in Iquitos itself, a city of about a half million people. The sun was just setting and the sunset was beautiful on the Amazon River. There were some little tourist shops where we bought a few bracelets and trinkets. 

Some of the pictures below: left column the riverfront, us with the Amazon behind, Joe buys a t-shirt and a little girl playing princess outside. The middle is the plaza where our hotel was and the right column, the perfect picture while we were stopped at an intersection (love this picture of an elderly man leaning against a post), in a motocar going to church and the national guard getting ready for the Independence celebration in the plaza. The bottom five, the iron house created by the same man who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris (his practice project I guess), another picture of the plaza from our hotel window, a typical neighborhood, and our friend we met, Gerald Mayeaux, originally from Texas now runs a restaurant/bar called Yellow Rose Texas. It was completely full of sports memorabilia since he played professional baseball for Texas.

When we arrived in Iquitos at the airport, not realizing motor taxis and motorcycles are the primary mode of transportation (very few cars and buses) we opted to take a regular taxi.  It would be our last since regular car taxis are just so scarce.  The streets are full of motor taxis, morning to night, circling the streets and the city square, like massive group of motor cycle gangs,  putt putt putting along, with one or two cars in the mix.  When we landed and had gathered our luggage, we were immediately “assaulted” or a better word, swarmed by taxi drivers.  We quickly realized that 95% were “motocars” or motorcycle taxis.  These are a made to order (mostly made by Honda) combination of a motorcycle and a buggy, with a seat that holds 2 comfortably, 7 or 8 if you’ a Peruvian family) with a canopy covering the top to protect against the sun and the rain. They don't know what a seatbelt or helmet is. One site we saw was a man driving with his two-year old daughter behind him and then his wife, nursing her little girl. We saw the same lady a few minutes later with the baby on her hip talking on a cell phone. 

We also visited the Quistococha Lagoon and zoo. The zoo was not much to look at but the big cats were the best. We felt bad about the animal habitats that were not very good. The zoo is part of the Quistococha Lagoon so we walked down by the beach and found the locals just hanging out there, families and sweethearts. There were several open-air eating places with the fish to cook on the table. So we sat down and put in an order and enjoyed the best grilled fish ever, eating until only the fish skeleton was left! 

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