November 3, 2006
I spent last night on a bus heading to Lima. I paid extra for the luxury bus this time, and was rewarded with a good night's sleep.
My flight to Iquitos was set to leave at 4:00 this afternoon, so there would be no sight seeing in Lima. Actually, that's how I prefer it. I saw enough of Lima when I started my trip. I grabbed a cab to the airport and waited a few hours for my flight time to approach.
Normally I don't fly much within my trips, but I didn't have much of a choice this time. With 400,000 inhabitants, Iquitos is the largest city in the world with no road access. It also is an important port on the Amazon River.
The small airport didn't have any hangers, so we had to walk directly to the runway from the airplane. As soon as I walked off the plane, I could feel a wave of heat and humidity hit me. I caught a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi into town, all the while listening to and smelling the thousands of identical taxis all around me. The abundance of motorcycles and lack of cars seems to be the norm for all jungle towns in South America.
I met up with Craig, my travel companion from Bolivia and Paraguay, at his guesthouse. Since I last saw him, he has spent most of his time in Peru, including riding a balsa raft down the Rio Urubamba, surfing in the north, and taking a dugout canoe through a remote national park.
We didn't have much time to spare because the boat was to leave the port at 9:00 for Leticia, on the border of Peru, Brazil, and Colombia. On board the Manuel, I met Charlie, a Polish-Canadian-American who had been staying at Craig's guesthouse. I set up my newly-purchased hammock amoungst about a dozen others on the third floor of the ship and made myself at home. The ship left late, but that was no worry. This is the slow boat, and its relaxed pace reflects life itself in the Amazon.