Tuesday, June 3rd, 2003 – Day 105

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2003 – Day 105
Enforced day off for 2 reasons. I have been trying to change my flight (June 16th to late July) from Santiago to New Zealand for the past week without success. The staff at Quantas in Buenos Aires have been trying their best but there are only three flights a week. It seems there no seats available in July and August. They will try again today and will give me a final decision by tomorrow morning. If I don’t get an extension, I need to fly to Lima tomorrow or the day after. If I do get an extension I will do a Jungle tour and take a slow boat back towards the coast.

Secondly, today was a series of national strike which closed most of the shops and transport in the city. Thousands of trade unionists and striking teachers marched today through downtown Lima in defiance of a state of emergency that put the armed forces in charge of maintaining order.

Protesters also took to the streets in other major cities, including here in Iquitos – (located in Peru’s Amazon jungle 620 miles northeast of Lima). In Arequipa, the second largest city 465 miles southeast of the capital, local leaders called a general strike to support the protest. More information from the BBC.

Most of the shops and markets here closed. Anyway, Instead of doing anything today, I decided to sit it out and wait for Quantas to email. Spent the morning watching the Irish movie the Boxer which is OK even though Daniel-Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans is one of my favourite films. Also watched some of the ice skating film Cutting Edge.

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Iquitis – Peru – This is a picture of the Casa de Fierro, or Iron House, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The walls, ceiling, and balcony are plastered in rectangular sheets of iron. Said to be the first prefabricated house in the Americas, it was shipped unassembled from Europe and built on-site where it currently stands.
(03-06-2003)

Did nothing of interest the rest of the day except do laundry. Only 4 Soles for quiet a big bag. Also visited the tourist office on the plaza to investigate jungle lodges and tours. Will come to nothing if my flight out of South America remains the 16th of June. Watched 10 Things I Hate About You – predictable and Bamboozled , a Spike Lee film which was actually quite good. I had never seen it and deals with the entertainment industry’s inability to produce TV shows that render African Americans in roles contrary to the stereotypes fostered by a history of deeming and negative portrayals.

Anyway, had a few drinks in a pub that had a live band on and went to bed around 2.00am.

Wedneday, June 4th, 2003 – Day 106
Still waiting for the expected email from Quantas. Real bloody hot and humid this morning. My shirt was soaking 2 minutes after I left my accommodation. Anyway decided to book out. It was either Lima or Leticia today. Cost was 90 Soles for 3 nights of comfort. Left my bag there and waited. Bored, so went to the Colombian embassy to check out visa requirements for Irish people. We didn’t have to get visas up until last year when this happened. So after that happened, all Irish people are suspected IRA terrorists, like all Colombians are drug dealers 🙂 In other news the teachers strike is over.

Anyway, they said I didn’t need a VISA and just go to Leticia (50 US by plane or boat) and get stamped in for 90 days. I didn’t believe them as I had checked this with there London Embassy. Anyway, we had a nice chat about Ireland and the cost of taking a year out. GOT the email from Qunatas at 10.30am. Looked like they could get a seat for the 30th of July. Ok, later than I wanted anted but better than racing back to Santiago to fly to Auckland in 12 days. Decided against (1) A jungle tour (2) Leticia in Colombia and decided to head to Lima instead. Went to a travel agent to see if I could fly out that day. No problem, there was a TANS flight at 5.20pm for 61 US inclusive. OK, book it I say, and they told me to come back at 3.00pm. Fine and spent the day walking about. By 1.00pm, the thunder storms started again and didn’t abate until I let at 5.20pm. Paid 6 Soles for a moto to the airport. My bags were physically checked and off we went on a pretty full flight. They put the two gringos on the flight in the middle emergency seats so as to give us more leg room. The guy was American and was doing a 10 day of ALL of Peru. Anyway all we got was a glass of coke and a bag of crisps for the 2.20 flight. Arrived in Lima about 8.00pm. Got my bags quickly. Taxi fares run from 10 to 35 Soles to Miraflores. Best thing is to walk to the highway to catch a cheap cab. Didnt gret that far, but walked about 200 yards until an official taxi guy offered a fare of 17 Soles which is OK. Took about 30 minutes to get to Central Lima. First thing you notice is the smog and the cold. It wasn’t freezing but you needed a jacket. Told the taxi driver to the hostel I picked from the Lonely Planet which said I could get a single room for 12.50 US. It was called BBB but when O got there they said 6-person dorm was 10 US. Well, I couldn’t be bothered with dorm life especially in a city. So I asked them to mind my bag for 20 minutes while I checked out some hotels. On the corner of park Kennedy I saw a hotel called Hotel Las Palmas. While is has an official rate of 35 US per night for a single room, I bargained it down to 20 US per night. Not too much more than a dorm room in a hostel. At least I have telephone with Direct Dialing, Fully Carpeted, Color TV, Private Bathroom. Queen Size Orthopedic Bed and hot water.As I only got into my hotel at 10.00pm, I watched The Fast and the Furious on TV, had a shower, haircut, shave and went to bed.

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Flight from Iquitis to Lima – Peru (04-06-2003)

From Frommers
“Lima once ranked as the richest and most important city in the Americas and was considered to be the most beautiful colonial settlement in the region. Founded in 1535 by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Crown’s “City of Kings” quickly became the center of power and trade for the entire American viceregency that stretched from Quito to Santiago. Lima was home to some of the Americas’ finest baroque and Renaissance churches, palaces, and mansions, as well as the continent’s first university, founded in 1551. For 2 centuries, the capital also served as the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition.

An earthquake decimated the city in 1746, leaving more than 4,000 dead and few buildings standing. Today, the capital of Peru is a sprawling, chaotic, and mostly unlovely metropolis, and many visitors dart through it as fast as possible–if not bypassing it altogether. Peru’s blistering poverty is more apparent here than perhaps anywhere else: Depressing shantytowns called pueblos j?venes lacerate the outer rings of the city. And as if that weren’t enough, for most of the year an unrelenting gray cloud called the gar?a hangs heavily overhead, obscuring the coastline and dulling the city’s appearance. Lima has calmed down since the chaotic 1980s and ’90s, when the city was the scene of carjackings, kidnappings, embassy takeovers, and strong-arm political maneuvers. But the city still feels schizophrenic; outer suburbs such as Barranco are relatively gentle oases, worlds apart from the congestion and grime of the rest of the city. Though middle-class Lime?os from residential barrios are again venturing downtown along with foreign visitors, there are still plenty who consider central Lima off-limits.

With a population of eight million–about one-third Peru’s population–and as the seat of the national government and the headquarters of most industry, Lima thoroughly dominates Peru’s political and commercial life. The country’s best museums, restaurants, and nightlife are here, and many of the classic colonial buildings in the old centro are slowly being refurbished.”

Monday, June 2nd, 2003 – Day 104 (PART B)

Monday, June 2nd, 2003 – Day 104 (PART B) …. continued from last post.

I went to the Barrio de Belén around 11.00am, about a 15-minute walk south along the malec?n. It is Iquitos’s most unusual quarter. Known for its sprawling, colorful, and odiferous open-air market, where you’ll find a bounty of strange and wonderful Amazon fish, fauna, and fruits, Belén’s residential district is a seedy and extremely poor but endlessly fascinating shantytown. Houses are constructed above the waters of the Amazon, and when the river is high, transportation is by canoe. Met a guy in a canoe. I offered hime 10 Soles for an hour trip around the place which he accepted. It gives squalor a good anme. Reminded me of Asia again with stalls selling all types of exotic material from fish to fruit. Watch your stuff here. the trip was nice. Even thought the water was black, with the blue sky there was a breautiful reflection. I tipped the guy another 1.50 to ensort me from the jetty to the market as there were some hard looking guys about that particualar area.

It’s an atmospheric and photogenic place, akin to Calcutta. There is also a market, which extends over several blocks, is itself a wild place to visit, with all sorts of extraordinary exotic items for sale, including potions used by faith healers, paiche fish, and Amazonian fruits such as maracuy? (passion fruit), aguaje, cocona, and others.


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Iquitis – Peru (02-06-2003)


Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Iquitis – Peru (02-06-2003)


Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Iquitis – Peru (02-06-2003)


Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Iquitis – Peru (02-06-2003)


Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Iquitis – Peru (02-06-2003)


Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Iquitis – Peru (02-06-2003)

I got back to town around two and spend the rest of the day walking about. It was sunny and pleasant. You will get touts approaching you either directly or worse as a supposed friendly local offering advice .. ignore them.


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Iquitis – Peru. Main catherdral and plaza (02-06-2003)

Monday, June 2nd, 2003 – Day 104 (PART A)

Monday, June 2nd, 2003 – Day 104

Was up at 9.00am to have a shower and shave. Did the tourist thing by seeing the Catherdral, Plaza Armas and various sites by the river.

“Iquitos, the gateway to the northern Amazon, is Peru’s largest jungle town and the capital of its largest department, Loreto, which occupies nearly a third of the national territory and is nearly the size of Germany. Though you must fly to get here–unless you have a week to kill for hot and uncomfortable river travel–the pockets of jungle down- and upriver from Iquitos are the most accessible of the Peruvian Amazon basin. Some of the best jungle lodges in the country, some of which are entering their fourth decade of ecotourism, are located just a few hours by boat from Iquitos.

The city was founded in 1754 by Jesuit missionaries, although some continue to claim it was actually not founded until nearly a century later. The city’s proximity to South America’s greatest rain forest and its isolation from the rest of Peru have created a unique tropical atmosphere.

Iquitos is far from the grand port of old. The modern city of nearly a half million is composed of descendants of original ethnic groups such as the Yaguas, Boras, Kukama, and Iquitos, as well as significant populations of immigrant groups from Europe and Asia.”


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Iquitis – Peru – taken from the riverfront promenade called Malec?n Tarapac? nne block back from the plaza, facing the Amazon River (02-06-2003)


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Iquitis – Peru. Taken near to the Belem Market (02-06-2003)


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Iquitis – Peru. Belem market – hot, crowded and steamy. (02-06-2003)


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Iquitis – Peru. Banasas, Bananas “10 for a pound” (02-06-2003)


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Iquitis – Peru. Instead of having a dog as a pet, this girl had a tortoise complete with lead. Poor thing. (02-06-2003)

Sunday, June 1st, 2003 – Day 103

Sunday, June 1st, 2003 – Day 103

Woke up in a sweat at 8.00am. Didn’t turn on my fan when I got in this morning. That combined with a hangover and the extreme heat and humidity outside – well ouch. Packed and got my stuff ready to leave. Walked around town but is was way too hot and that meant one thing – thunder storms. It lasted maybe an hour and I waited until 1.15pm to catch a 4 Sole moto to get me 7km from the town to the airport.


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The flight from Pucallpa to Iquitis in Peru. Shot of a TANS airline stewardess telling a young lady it wasnt time to board just yet. (01-06-2003)

Boarding was at 2.00pm for the 3.30pm flight. Easy check in as my bags were simply weighted – my backpack came in at 21 KG. It is a very small airport but clean. No air conditioning thought so very stuffy. At 3.00pm it was announced that the flight would not arrive until 4.30pm. Very little to do except have lunch and wait. At 4.30pm the flight arrived from Lima. I paid the 12 Sole local tax and boarded. It was almost full with people who boarded in Lima. Got a poor window seat above the wing and off we went. Staff were professional and very smart looking. No meal although we got a glass of Inca Cola. Anyway, I was looking out at the Amazon below with all the winding rivers and green jungle. With the blue then red sky, clouds, couldn’t keep my eyes from the views. Beaufiful but short 40 minute journey until we reached Iquitos. It was dark and starting to rain when we arrived. I was tired while waiting for my bags. Lots of touts selling accommodation and jungle tours. Just went outside, picked a moto driver without engaging in conversation with any of the touts and paid the 6 Soles for the 7km trip to town. They are all paid commission, so they will all try and get you to go to cetain hostels. Don’t believe their stories of your chosen hostel been full or having been burned down .. insist on your preferred choice. There is a list of approved hostels, hotels etc WITH their prices in the tourist office based in the baggage/arrivals area. Check it out and make your choice. It also gives details of what facilities each hostel has.


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The flight from Pucallpa to Iquitis in Peru. (01-06-2003)


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The flight from Pucallpa to Iquitis in Peru. Nice rainbow and jungle below. (01-06-2003)


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The flight from Pucallpa to Iquitis in Peru. The Amazon. (01-06-2003)


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The flight from Pucallpa to Iquitis in Peru. (01-06-2003)

Nice looking town as we drove in with lots of bars and clubs. Decided on the expensive Florentia hostel (30 Soles) as I required comfort after the two cheap nights in Pucullpa (13 Soles per night). This hostel has double beds, clean sheets, ensuite bathroom with shower and cable TV. It was the first time I could relax in my chosen room for a while without been forced out my boredom and humidity. After watching coverage of the solldiers shooting on protesters in Pun (Oeru), I watched Austin Powers in Goldmember on TV which has a few funny moments. At 9.00pm, I left and walked around town until 12.00pm. The river front area is very popular and there were various street acts and musicians playing. After last night, decided to have an early enough night.