Lazy Strike, June 2007

Iquitos Travel Blog

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After relaxing and fun floating down the river we found ourselves in Iquitos. Finally. The city is well known for being the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road (for those keeping score, that leaves boat and plane). If you wonder why there is no road, it is rather aparent in our Yurimaguas entry (entitled "Dash 2"). But as we landed we were quickly informed that there was going to be a strike from Monday to Wednesday, and it would be very difficult if not impossible to get out of town. They always told us this with a grin as if saying "I´m on vacation for three days starting tomorrow", and they really meant it... So when we arrived we tried to see if we would become stuck in Iquitos until Thursday, and it quickly became apparent that the answer was yes.

So we found a good hostel/hotel ("La Casona") and we made ourselves at home. On Sunday we decided to go out of town to a lake a few kilometers away and bathe under the humid, hot sun of the Amazons. Good times. The lake area where we stayed had an inhumane zoo attached to it, with way too many pumas in way too small of cages. Alas, that´s the third world. Nonetheless many Amazonian species were there such as the ocelote, caimans, small monkeys, monkeys that hung of their tail, and "somebody please put a paper bag over this monkey´s head" monkeys. Even a species that looks like a cross of small bear, an ant eater, and a seal. Ridicously cute. On the way back, we took an bus without windows (the weather is too Amazonian for windows) and headed home. On this bus ride is when we first realized that the Amazonian sunset and the sky in general is breathtaking.  

Monday the strike was in full swing and nothing moved or opened. No transportation of any sort, and for a town full of motortaxis (bung bung choos) it was very strange. A small protest (no more than 3000 people) went by the main plaza at miday and that was about it. Worth noting is that leading the protest were a group of children ranging from 6 to 14, who would overturn garbage cans, throw the garbage around, and break glass bottles on the street as they marched forward. The adults did nothing to stop it or apparently even saw something wrong. Oh well. At night we went to  a Texan restaurant (with Texans included), one of the few places "open", though it actually looked closed. Businesses would look closed but were open though a sort of bouncer guarded the door (our guess is that in case strikers decided to force a closure). More businesses "opened" on Tuesday and then Wednesday, but still almost no transport. Anyway, we had a few beers and Danilo had the American style burguer he had been yearning for a long time. Better would have been to wait longer.

Emily was woken up the next morning by an awful smell. Danilo was sick, very sick. The burger had been poorly cooked to say the least and a nice case of food poisoning, with fever included, followed. Luckily we had nothing to do for the next few days, so Tuesday and Wendnesday we just chilled. Emily relaxed and read, while Danilo relaxed and pooped. Good times. On Wednesday we went for lunch at an iron building that Eiffel designed and some rubber baron brought to Iquitos in the 1900s. We dislike Eiffel´s architecture but it was still cool to be there, minus the fact that this iron structure trapped the heat of the beating, brutal miday sun. We were done before the food was, but with the help of some unnamed tropical fruit juice we had a nice lunch.

Wednesday afternoon there was apparently another, bigger protest but neither one saw it. By then the sun and the rain had fallen upon the garbage which was spread all over the town, by ruffians, dogs, and whatever else came along, because there was sure as hell nobody to clean it up. The garbage had even begun to catch fire (a slow simmering fire, for those of you worried) and it was a show in itself. Too bad the show smelled like 3-day decayed garbage. Kind of took the charm away. Nonetheless, even with the garbage, it was strange and nice at the same time to see a city paralyzed. People playing soccer, volleyball, and whatever else on the streets. Taking a nice vacation under the banner of a strike.

On Thursday we left in a fast boat towards the tri-border of Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, making up for time lost during the strike. We left our hostal at 5:30am, the streets were spotless and the bung bung choos were racing places before the sun was out. Life was in full swing again and we were getting the hell out of there.

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Iquitos
photo by: Ileamel