Last Day in Iquitos/ Back to the US

Martes 04May10

Morning Wrap-up

I awoke to a neighbor cock crowing enthusiastically.  Every five minutes.  For two hours.  And the soft patter of rain.  Then our last breakfast at “our” restaurant.

Walked by a vegan restaurant on the Malecón.  A tall white guy with dread locks and lots of tattoos ran it.  A freelance tattooer worked on the sidewalk out front.

Still lots of loose ends to wrap up.  The eggs.  The T-shirts.  More fiberglass panels for the house.  Carpenter’s belts for the workmen as they have nothing to hold nails once they’re up in the house frame.  More goose feed (if the eggs are still viable.)  The ATM for more cash to pay for all of this.

First we stopped for gas.  We were required to exit the motocarro, as the woman attendant – always a woman, in uniform – filled the tank and collected the money.   A young woman on a motorcycle was ahead of us, dressed in a pale green vest/pantsuit and thong sandals, with a large purse decorated – tastefully – with skulls.

Doctors in Peru

Next we took Juan to a free clinic to get a shot and medicine for his rash which was now not only on his arm, but on his neck too.  This second opinion (the first given four months ago) is that a white mosquito bit him and he had an allergic reaction.

When we had discussed his case last night with Miriam (owner of La Noche restaurant), she talked about how a friend had had a rash on her calf that had spread down to the bone and her doctor was going to cut off half of her leg before gangrene set in.  Miriam talked her into going to her doctor, who changed her diet and gave her some herbs, and the problem was resolved (and she kept the leg).

The Pharmacy

The “clinic” was actually a pharmacy.  Mary made a small purchase.  The pharmacist behind the counter gave her a 2” x 2” piece of paper with a number.  The cashier, across the small, open-air store, in a glassed booth, took the slip and charged Mary.  Then Mary took the receipt and collected the purchase from behind yet another counter.

Juan looked so young that I asked him his age: 33.  I expressed my incredulity and he explained (with Spanish and hand language) that he led a physical life.  Mary added that his oldest, a girl, was nine, and he had two younger children.

A woman walked through the pharmacy with a plastic bowl of fruit on her head.  One of the pharmacists bought one, so Mary bought an annona for lunch.  I had eaten them in Jamaica. 

Annona squamosa (also called sugar-apple, or sweetsop) is native to the tropical Americas.  The fruit is usually round, slightly pine cone-like with a scaly or lumpy skin.   The fruit flesh is sweet, white to light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard.

And, con su permiso, took her photo.  She needed help getting the bowl back on her head.  (I had accidentally put these photos in yesterday’s blog.  They belonged here.)

A guy walked in with a mangy-looking dog which heeled exactly right, its head at his knee, which none of my dogs ever learned, and sat while his owner purchased an item.  Juan went into the back and got a shot (penicillin?) in the rump.

After that we looked for carpenter’s belts.  Seis correas del carpintero.  Pero la tela no cuero.  (I love trilling the r’s.)  But all that were available on The Street of Building Supplies were suede.  We bought six at S/. 26.50 each.  Mary then decided to find a Radio Shack to purchase rechargeable batteries for the CD player for the language CDs for the village.

Back to our hostel to check out.  Past the Belen market, buses and motocarros beeping at pedestrians.  A young boy with pieces of cardboard to cover the seats of parked motorcycles for a small fee.  The crush of traffic, the roar of motors, morotcycles and motocarros parked solid along the one-way streets.  The sky still spitting, keeping the temperature down (relatively.)


At La Pascana the very young woman who had verified our flight reservations explained that she needed our receipts (for S/. 5 we paid her for her work) because she had put April, not May on them.  A few minutes later she asked for the new receipts back because she had given us the white copy instead of the pink copy.

(They’re big on accounting here, but the accounting is not done by computer.  When we returned the cases of empty beer bottles yesterday the cashier had to find the original bill, filed in two places, before handing over our deposit.)

Then, after a nap, we left for the airport.

The Road to the Airport

A motocarro tipped over so that the bicycle chain (yes, that’s what it looked like) underneath could be oiled.  A pickup truck with a board crosswise in the back for a woman and her three children to sit.

A pickup truck piled 6 feet high with wood crates and plastic sacks, full of fruit and vegetables,  stitched closed, room left on a 2-foot pile at the back for a young guy.  No rear gate.  No tie-down.  A small fruit drink stand by the road – rather like a kid’s lemonade stand in the US, but with a large umbrella.

The road lined with the Peruvian equivalent of strip malls.  A couple of one- or two-building “universities”.  A billboard ad for flowers for Mother’s Day.  A lumber warehouse.  A cement warehouse.

We passed a political (?) parade for Pancho somebody, a line of motocarros and a bus with bright pink flags. 

Iquitos Airport

The airport was under construction, and one month after we had arrived much had been accomplished.  The floors were grey tile, the ticket counters black corian, the ergonomic seats (comfortable, and with no armrests if you needed to sleep overnight) black, the walls and high ceilings white.  Frameless glass strip windows were being added, so there will be AC. 

In the waiting area there were a few standing fans, and one man was seated next to the one plugged in.  When I stood in front of it, he, smiling, moved another and plugged it in facing the opposite seat.  I should have purchased one of those woven fans like Mary’s (which had been locked up in their trunks, for next year, at Ramon’s house) for the return from the jungle. 

The young woman boarding  in front of me was wearing jean short shorts two sizes too small, but a jean jacket to keep her warm enough on the airplane.  OMG – the plane was freezing!  Good thing I had a jacket in my backpack.  When we took off the AC vents poured out fog!  Didn’t think I had seen that before.  The LAN plane was quite new – what a contrast to the selva.  

The first trip to Iquitos must have been a shock to Jim’s guys coming out of the selva.  Motorcycles!  Motocarros!  Traffic!  Electric lines, tall buildings, glass in windows, noise, paved streets, restaurants, offices, running water, plumbing, toilets, pharmacies, banks, department stores, toy stores, electronic stores, electronics!  Whole streets of furniture, clothes, food, building supplies, internet cafes, internet!  Police, army, parks with grass, paved walkways, and fountains (although most without water).  Weekend bazaar and entertainment on the Malecón.  Belen’s huge food market with tons of choices, women with makeup and high heels!  And the airport.  Wow.

Lima Airport

I had been given a boarding pass from Lima to Miami but they wouldn’t check my bag through so I had to stand in line in Lima anyway.  Chatted with the Peruvian family in front of me.  Asked the young boy where they were going and he said Disney.  So the mom filled in Orlando, Florida.  I told them (in Spanglish) how much fun I’d had there when my kids had been their age.  They asked me if I were going there too.  I showed them the page in my American passport that shows saguaros and explained that I was going home to the desert.  They were disappointed that their Peruvian passports didn’t have pretty pictures on every page like my new one.

We were served dinner from Lima to Miami but afterwards I couldn’t’ sleep (flight was 10pm to 5am, actually 6 hours with one hour time change) in the 15” wide seat, but managed to wriggle around enough in that tiny space to strain my back.  (That plus carrying my backpack the 17 miles from our domestic arriving gate to the international departing gate.)

Miami Airport

Had a bagel and latte at the airport.  Had money left over as the airport tax hadn’t been as much as Mary remembered.  Was so tired and had two (!) seats to Dallas that I curled up and slept the entire three hours, missing my orange juice.

Dallas Airport

In the US some tight jeans on women but I haven’t seen any sprayed-on.  Half of the people in jeans, most in gym shoes, just about all sloppy-looking.  Even the military camouflage looked sloppy compared to the old spit-and-polish.  One man in an incongruous suit and the flight attendants were the best dressed.  Thirty teenage girls in matching pink T-shirts all speaking Spanish, being herded by an adult.  This is not the future depicted in sci-fi movies.  No paunchy, bespeckled balding guys in sci-fi.  Or hefty women in muumuu tops walking like ducks.  We don’t dress to match the high tech buildings that do look like sci-fi.

There were two of the pink-shirted girls in the food court (where I had a hot chocolate ‘cause the airport was freezing).  I asked them where they were from and where they were going.  From Mexico (from an all-girls school) going to Disneyland for their prom! With their teachers accompanying them.  How great!

Back to our version of civilization.  Disneyland.

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One Response to “Last Day in Iquitos/ Back to the US”

  1. Jim Says:

    At the building site, I noticed Juan spending some time at edge of the clearing, everyday at lunch time. With his back turned towards us, I could not see what he was doing there. Finally, after a couple of weeks, my desire to respect his privacy was overwhelmed by my curiosity. I waited several minutes after he had gotten there, before going to join him. To may amazement, he was feeding starving flycatcher nestings part of his lunch. The nest was so well concealed that I had walked by it daily, without ever noticing it.

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