Immortalized in Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (see it), the city is less remote now than in the period portrayed in the film. But, this odd town in the jungle is still only accessible by boat or plane. Though the era of Rubber barons and explorers may be gone, the city still has the aura as an outpost, with transients, prospectors, oil workers and, of course, those who want to see the Amazone before it is too late.
Flying over the Andes range coming in over the snaking Amazon river is something I will never forget. But landing in Iquitos, which is a large city, is confusing. The large expanse of the jungle below is suddenly interrupted by a civilization that seems unlikely to graft in such a remote area.
The upper Amazon floods to such a level annually, that houses in many areas are built on rafts. When the river floods, the houses rise and, conversely, sink as the river recede.
Belen market is not for the faint of heart. Besides located in a dangerous section of the city, the offerings can be disturbing. Here’s is every animal, or parts of them, available. As the hapless critters get processed, scraps end up on the ground to the delight of the buzzards waiting above. It’s a surreal scene.
Dried pieces, skulls, bones of animals ground up and prepared for some medical use or another. Then there are the many plant extracts, here Ayahuasca, a very potent hallucinogenic.
Being blind is not easy. Eeking out a living this way must be hard.