Arrival in Iquitos

Let’s see…I left off just as we were arriving in Iquitos, right? Well, that turned out to be quite the ordeal. Mike went camera-happy, snapping photos of all the cargo being unloaded. I just wanted to find a hotel so that I could shower, but I let him have at it. My one concern was that we get off the boat before the cattle. That didn’t happen. Just as we were heading downstairs to disembark they began unloading the cows. We managed to squeeze through between them, and then we stood on the dock watching what was one of the more interesting spectacles we’ve witnessed. Since the planks leading up to the dock are barely a foot wide and quite wobbly, I wasn’t sure how they were going to get the cattle off the boat. It didn’t take long before I had an answer, though. All of a sudden there was a giant splash and one of the cows was in the water. “Can cows swim? Was that an accident?” Mike and I were rather surprised. A moment later another cow was taking a dip. Upon closer inspection we realized that the cattle were being tugged over the edge of the boat by ropes tied around their horns. They were then half-dragged toward the shore. It was a very amusing sight since their entry into the water was anything but graceful. One cow seemed to get stuck under a neighboring boat and I thought it was going to drown for a minute before it surfaced. What an interesting introduction to the jungle city!

Iquitos has a busy, busy port!

First the regular good were unloaded…

…then the cattle were escorted from the boat.

“Off you go!”

So graceful!

After the initial plunge, the cattle were guided ashore.

Shortly after we checked into a simple hostal we took a walk around the central square in Iquitos. One interesting tid-bit of information is that one of the buildings in Iquitos was made by Eiffel (you know, the guy who made the Eiffel tower and the Statue of Liberty). His building in the middle of the jungle is known as the Iron House and is a hideous metal building that looks ridiculously out of place.

The charming Iron House of Iquitos was designed by Eiffel.

The Iron House really clashed with the tacky tiles that covered most buildings around the Plaza de Armas. The tiles are left over from the rubber boom days, when the rubber barons imported hand-made tiles to fancy-up their homes.

While walking in the Plaza de Armas we noticed a small film crew shooting what looked like a really low-budget music video. We stopped to watch, and before we knew it we were asked to appear in the video. We agreed; after all, it was just going to be a brief walk-on appearance, right? Wrong. I found myself on a park bench while the singer sat next to me belting out some love song I couldn’t understand. I had a hard time trying not to laugh, and I’m quite certain I did not look smitten by this serenade. After he finished singing, they directed Mike to sit next to me on the bench and give me a kiss. I am fairly certain that this will be the worst music video in history. We did get a free CD for our troubles, though.

Don’t I look thrilled?

The next morning we visited a local market for a bit. It was pretty typical, but interesting, nonetheless. We did see some alligator meat being chopped up by the butchers, which is not a common sight on the coast.

Mmmm, alligator steaks!

The rest of our day was busy as well. So busy, in fact, that Mike took about a thousand pictures. I’m running out of time though, so I guess you’ll have to sit tight for the next installment! In the meantime, Mike and I will be reversing our journey to the jungle. We’re hopping a boat back to Yurimaguas later today. This means that we’ll be incommunicado for a few days, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to do another blog shortly after we’re on land again. Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day and drink a green beer for me — I don’t think there are too many Irish-Peruvians.

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