Day 12 : Iquitos, Peru

Ahh, civilization (sort of). After 4 days in the jungle our guide-friend Daniel showed us around the city of Iquitos, an island formed by 3 large rivers, the Amazon being one of them.  Iquitos was once a rich city during the rubber boom of the 1920's. One main building in town was build by Eiffel (as in tower-Paris). After the boom, the rubber barons took seeds back to Europe to plant there and abandoned the beautiful city. You can tell by walking around that it still retains its old world charm.

The Eiffel Building. Entirely Made of steel, It was designed and built by the same guy that did Paris's Eiffel tower.


The catholic church in Iquitos' Plaza de Armas.
Iquitos Plaza De Armas. You can see moto taxis in background. which account for 90% of all vehicles here.
Some Street folks on our way to the Beln Market getting ready for A parade and celebration this day. We got a little preview from this guy.
Wow, a mural on the side of a building. Peru's statement of The USA trying to take over the world - WTH
Typical Building in Iquitos - you can picture how the city was in its heyday, Very French in a lot of its style
Main Street in Iquitos. The Left side overlooks the Amazon basin and we are Just approacing high water season where The water levels will reach the street wall
Moto Taxi. Pretty much same as a Thailand Tuk Tuk.

Along the banks of the Amazon basin is Lower Belan. A floating city (the poor man's Venice of the Amazon). Here, Daniel,  took us to The Belan Market. Maybe one of the most surreal experiences yet. We were led WAY off the tourist trail. The upper market is where most locals shop. Still huge in size and very real, you can occasionally see a tourist. We had the opportunity to venture deeper, to the Lower Belan Market along the waterfront where ONLY locals and rainforest dwellers come to trade. We were the only gringo-tourists there so we were getting lots of stares and Daniel, lots of dirty looks.  There is a great deal of black market dealings in the lower market - so its not where guides usually take tourists on there day off. A mass of stalls, people, smells.... black market goods. Haircuts in the streets, people starring at us, splayed open dead monkeys, live monkeys alligators, parrots, men sleeping on tables, food, oh and did we mention the smells (some good, some not so).....very overwhelming.  Nothing we would have ever experienced on our own. Or dared to. So far from what we experience in daily life it is hard to imagine it's real. Even compared to other countries markets .. or the upper Belan market, they even seem Modern compared to what we saw. Didn't get too many pictures down know, didn't want to stand out... hahahahahahaha
This whole jungle experience was the craziest thing either of us has done (so far). Absolutely insane. Ate things we never knew existed.  For now, we are recouping and heading to our room to shower and sleep ...we have a 6am flight in the morning. Ahhhh....Brian will be busting out the Speedo and heading to the beach.

The outskirts of Belan. Poor man's Venice. It Floods every year at high water. You can see how far the water levels come up by ow far away the river is in the background, and the water stain lines on the houses.
Upper Belan Market. The nicer part...far cry from the lower - which our guide brought us into.
So the lower market, we were told not to take to many pics. It is not usually seen by tourists. There are a lot of black market animals and things down here. We snuck a pic of this - black market parrots and monkey (top of cage). Definately not as comfortable with people staring at us as we walked through....
The market on the upper levels of the Belan Market. ost tourists only see this part of the market, it is here all year round and it is more approachable
Salted fish at the upper Belan Market - love the feesh, but no thank you

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