Iquitos - Hobo Hostel

Iquitos Travel Blog

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Watching the Motorcarros

Christ! - This is where it gets 'real'! Compared with Lima Iquitos has a lot more of, lets say, an untouched quality about it. I'm sporting a bruised knee and gashed shin from an embarrasing stumble in Lima, I'm deaf in one ear thanks to the cold I got from the taxi driver and I've already found a disturbing green bug bigger than my thumbnail in my shirt. On top of that I'm sweating like Gary Glitter in Toys R Us. 

I'm in a different hostel for the first night - one that sports no people other than me and is basic to say the least, with the additional benefit of no air-con and a rock solid mattress.

Designed by Louis Eiffel - on a Friday afternoon presumably
 That said I have a feeling that things just might be starting to get interesting...

Iquitos was a hell of a culture shock after the somewhat tame (or lame?) surrounds of Lima. I arrived on the early morning flight; Iquitos has two flight options - early morning or late night - this is to work around the vultures that circle the airport during the day.

I stepped of the tiny airplane, quickly through the one-hangar style airport and out into a throng of excitable motorcarro taxi drivers. 10 soles later (should be eight at most, apparently), I was pelting towards Iquitos in the back of what can best be described as a motorbike with a box with a seat in stuck on the back. Again, this was a particularly unseatbeltesque transport arrangement, and had the added joy of wind and diesel fumes slapping me in the face, as well as the disturbing proximity of the other motorcarrros and motorbikes (many with helmet-less toddlers sat on the front) as the traffic moved like a high speed diesel-powered shoal of fish.

Famous touristy location - apparently

The driver attempted to make small talk to me over the rattle of the engine. I quickly realized two things - my left ear hadn’t ‘re-popped’ when the ‘plane descended (leaving me half deaf) and my Spanish is absolutely shit. Estupendo!

I’d arrived a day early to benefit from a cheaper flight, so asked the friendly taxi driver to take me to a nice hostel.

Hostel numero uno. This was actually a hotel, owned by his mate. After a bit of kerfuffle, with me saying “ ‘ostell” an excessive number of times the penny seemed to drop. His sister just happened to own an incredible hostel nearby!

Or she may do, when it’s finished being built. After a quick look around a the site (blokes mixing cement in the corridor outside the bedroom - pretty building sitey) I politely declined.

After a sound night's sleep
I remembered reading of a hostel called ‘the Hobo Hideaway’ in Lonely Planet and asked the taxi driver to take me there. He said there was no point as it was full, but his friend had a hostel a few streets away…

I took my chances and made my way by foot to the Hobo Hideaway, which was surprisingly empty for a full place.

A cool travellers’ vibe reached out through the iron grill gate, with the kitchen priveleges, laundry area, bar, cable-TV room and 2 sq metre plunge pool drawing international hobos…this is how it would have been if Lonely Planet wasn’t a lying little shit.

A slightly dilapidated vibe wafts out through the metal security gate, which doesn‘t keep out the noise of the motorcarros. This is essentially a family home with some dorm rooms on the upper floor.

You can use the kitchen carefully when family meals aren’t being prepared, and if there is a spare seat in the family’s front room (which is unlikely with a young mum and baby, random sleeping old man and the matriarch of the family taking most of the space, most of the time) then you can sit down and watch whatever they are watching. It is physically possible to drink beer in the place, if that qualifies as a bar and in the outside area (if you don’t get in the way of the laundry) you may see a pointless one by two metre sink with a bit of stagnant water in it. You will be lucky if you see anyone else.

Indeed, a brief wander round Iquitos revealed a distinct lack of gringos and gringas in the entire place. I finally went to the most English looking pub in the most touristy part of town in the hope of meeting anyone who I could communicate with. The bar had free pool, and three grey-haired americans, all sat separately from one another. I approached each in turn to see if anyone fancied a game of pool. Each in turn looked shifty, declined/apologized and said that they had to be somewhere soon - this odd behaviour made more sense when I saw the ‘mural of shame’ later in the week…

As it happened I did meet a few other people. At about 8pm the door to the room swung open and a wizened old man in a Brazil shirt appeared - gesturing wildly with his hands and saying’ “Umph, umph - umph umph umph!”

As well as speaking Spanish, this guy was obviously either missing his tongue or had had some kind of stroke. After a while I established that he wanted me to close the windows, which was easy enough. I had a bizarre chat of sorts with him the following day and he was a nice enough chap - however, at first meeting I nearly soiled myself.

Raspberrybird says:
HI Guys, I am heading to Iquitos in January. Am in Huancabamba, Pasco, Peru at the mo. Good to hear about the hostels before hand. Did any of you do a amazon tour? Expensive or not and which company if you recommend? I did a tour in Rurrenbaque in Bolivia and enjoyed it a lot but need more of an intens amazon experience. All info is greatly welcome : )

Jo Jo
Posted on: Dec 10, 2011
andrejav says:
Hahahah, I know the place, but luckily I made turn towards Camiri Floating Hostel :) and enjoyed it to the fullest
Posted on: Aug 04, 2011
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Watching the Motorcarros
Watching the Motorcarros
Designed by Louis Eiffel - on a Fr…
Designed by Louis Eiffel - on a F…
Famous touristy location - apparen…
Famous touristy location - appare…
After a sound nights sleep
After a sound night's sleep
photo by: Ileamel