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.
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 there....you 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.