September 9th, 2007 – by: Belluomo
The pickup..not remotely full
I left for Yurimaguas
today, at first waiting for a collectivo van but
with only 5 passengers waiting around for the 13-person conveyance to
leave, it could have taken hours, so the few of us there decided to go
to the other terminal and see if there were a pickup truck or car going
to Yurimaguas instead. It turned out we had a lot of options and there
was one pickup filling up that we got into. We were more fortunate
then many of the later arrivals who had to make do with standing in the
back of it for the three hour ride. The road is being paved and only
on Sunday is the work suspended, allowing free traffic all day long.
On the other days, you have to catch a ride at either 4 in the morning
or 4 in the afternoon, to get through before the construction work
Now we're ready to go!
It was hot but not that uncomfortable, even though we were 4
adults and 3 children in the back of the cab. Nothing out of the
normal for Peru. They can pack in twice the number of people we’re
used to accommodating. And in the bed of the pickup there must have
been another 15 people, in addition to all the cargo and luggage. Two
in the front seat plus a driver brought the total up to about 25 for a
normal pickup truck! The scenery was breathtaking on the way up.
Thickly forested sheer hills rose up in front of us as we weaved our
way up and out of the valley. I was surprised to see how high the
mountains were here, thinking that we had left those high hills behind
on the western and central part of the Andes in Peru. But these were
more than hills.
The back seat..ultimate comfort
The difference was in the climate and vegetation.
The hills were all covered with palms and trees and plants and I felt
really good there. I was traveling with a mother and her two little
girls and the older one, who was about 3 years old, was very high
spirited and was talking the whole way. At a certain point, she
started chanting, “hey gingo” and everyone was laughing very hard. She
was referring to me but where she got that from I don’t know. It was
adorable to hear her trying to say “gringo” but missing the “r” and I
didn’t mind at all. Dusk started to fall and the road got steeper and
a little more treacherous, as the newly paved road gave way to mud and
clay and I wondered what the trip must be like in the rainy season.
Lush higher rainforest
would add a couple more hours on I’m sure. Night fell and a light rain
started. The standing room only travelers in the cab must have gotten
anxious but soon the rain stopped and we started descending into
flatter and warmer areas. We were nearing Yurimaguas.
total letdown after Tarapoto! Yurimaguas is a small port city that
just exists as a stopping point between Iquitos
and Tarapoto. It’s hot
and sticky and dead here. There were only a few restaurants open and I
got some over-salted chicken with the usual soggy, greasy, barely warm
fries and some shredded cabbage. At least the beer was cold and I was
able to get the food down because I was so hungry.
Playing on the construction site
At the internet
café it was hot and sweaty and the ceiling fans either didn’t work or
weren’t turned on. The dingy lighting made it hard on the eyes to look
at the screen and pages took forever to load and programs were
crashing. I wasn’t having a good introduction to Yurimaguas. Since
it’s Sunday no boats are running so I’ll have to see what is leaving
tomorrow. Monday is a good day because after a day without departures,
there are supposed to be a morning and evening departure for Iquitos.
I don’t want to spend any more time here than I have to.