Notes From Iquitos

The sun goes down on the Amazon. Stilt walkers stride long, on tiny baby shoes. A multitude of white herons on the floating vegetation. The water stretches out like a lake, to the ocean of green beyond. A woman bears a cross of balloons. A tile gateway frames the towering sky. Electric blue lights turn on as the sky deepens from orange to black. It is a black as warm and suedelike as the damp air.

The town is on the river. A stone railing runs the length of a river walk, with palms and statues and roses. A karaoke bar, a bar called The Night. Signs: se lee la mano, palms read. A public sign warns tourists in English that child sex tourism is against the law and will be prosecuted. Families walk and a drum beats. Cumbia rolls from the sound systems at the bars. A kid with a mohawk and an Eminem shirt with the sleeves cut off carries a shoeshine box.

Aurora buys some beaded jewelry from a woman who comes up to our sidewalk table. She’s from a community 2 days upriver called Pucallpa and came by boat. It’s very big, she says; 2,000 people. Another woman selling beads and textiles comes to our table with the other one, her baby in her arms. Both of them look remarkably Asian, so much so that Aurora is fascinated by it – both the woman and her child are strikingly beautiful, with almond shaped eyes and round, delicate faces the color of bronze.

The children, who are everywhere present, seem totally at home in public, often unattended by adults, alone or in groups. There are children selling things or begging, and I did see a boy of around 8 or 10 sleeping on the sidewalk today. Still overall, the amount of children out playing – with or without parents – is something that stands out. Also the amount of pregnant women, and couples.

A man on a unicycle. Jugglers. A street preacher with a high, hysterical voice as if he’d inhaled helium. The tile window frame flashes on, and threads of water spray from its top, light catching on the water.

Last edited: September 17, 2016

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