Sunday, July 9, 2017

Thawing Out in a Rainforest Village

Caymans for sale at the market place
Shot on my iPhone 6.
In Iquitos, an Israeli girl, early 20's, asked for my number. She said I had to visit Jerusalem and that she would show me around. Why does she even want me to come? The Spanish girl, who was 20, saw me giving it to her. She wanted it too. I gave it to her later. Why anyone would want my number is a mystery to me, especially when I'm not talking that much?

A few days ago, I was a self-imposed mute, not really talking to anyone, not really wanting to. At least, I'm talking to people now. A little. I guess they like what little I have to say. Perhaps, the Amazon is thawing me out, unlike the dark and gloomy Lima in winter.

Iquitos is the Amazonian Capital in Peru. You must get in by bus or plane. The river cuts it off from the rest of the world. It's the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by ground transport. In other words, it's impossible to drive into Iquitos.

I didn't do much in Iquitos. It's much better than the Ecuadorian sister city of Coca I visited last year to enter the jungle. Both are concrete jungles, but the people are kinder and more alive in Iquitos. The Amazonian food is also really amazing. It's mainly meat and rice, but the rice is flavored. The salsa (also called ahi) is spicy and flavorful. I love the carne asada and the smell and taste of smoke in my food.

Unlike Coca, there are trendy cafes for the gringos (the white people). And I go to them often to read and use the internet. But in general, the internet is bad here, because we're on satellite, because we're cut off from the rest of civilization.

Most tourists are here to see the Amazon or to see a shaman. I've heard a number of tourists talk about seeing a Shaman and how it opened up their mind and spirit. I guess I'll write more about it later. It's rather an elaborate process, as you have to start on a fast and a diet and you have to enter into a trance by drinking some herbal and bitter and ugly-tasting smoothie. I'm not doing it, mainly because I'm Christian. But people have told me some unusual things about it - like how they could connect to other people's souls in the trance. I just listened to their stories.

While I was here, I was plagued by thinking about what I had to do next. I have no plans. I wanted to see the Amazon, but I didn't want to pay all that much money. It's a big scam anyways. The tour organizer keeps 90% of the money, and pays the guides and the employees probably $3 a day for all their work. I know. I did this last year, remember?

And I was so tired of doing the touristy stuff. I've been there and done that and now I'm jaded and need more.

One day, my mentor and I were looking at aquarium fish for my birthday. It made me happy. I explained to him all the rare Amazonian fish this store had. And he had an idea, why don't I make contacts with tropical aquarium fish distributors in the Amazon and make a commission on importing the fish.

I was on a mission in Iquitos, after I thought about it more. And after some researching, I was able to find the aquarium fish importers.

He showed me his fish. I was really impressed. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I loved seeing all the rare Amazonian tropical fish. I asked him if he could organize a tour for me to catch these fish. I can't bring them home, since I'm traveling. But I would love to go into the Amazon to find fish. He said he would try. But he never got back to me.
Discus fish, king of aquarium fish

So, I asked a tour company. I didn't like the guy who came. He looked drunk. His eyes were bloodshot.

He gave me all the reasons why he was going to rip me off: It was far away, they had to provide food and shelter, and then I tuned out to what else he said.

I responded, "Even if I'm not a special tour, you have to give me all those things at a regular price."

"Yes, but we have to hire a special fisherman."

That's true, I thought. But you just want to rip me off, and I know it you little fat and drunk man.

He showed me on a map where it was and where I had to go.

"How much?"

"$100 a day."

"That's too much for me." I pointed to the spot on the map I needed to go to and asked, "Can't I just take a bus there?"

It was then, we both realized that I had figured out how to see what I wanted and cut him out of the picture.

"I'm not giving you anymore information. Good bye."

Inside, I was smiling. Greedy man, I thought. You told me everything I needed to know now.

Anyways, where I'm going, there might not be internet. I might not be able to write for a few days. Apparently, there's no ATM machines either.

As I was leaving the hostel, today, the receptionist asked me, "Where are you going?"

I told him.

He said, "And what are you going to do there? Where are you going to stay?"

I said, "I don't know. I have no plans."

"You have no plans. Must be nice to live your life that way."

"I guess. It's how I lived most my life."

I brought with me a backpack full of clothes and a few books and my camera. That's it. Let's see what stories I come back with. 

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