Posted by Vi Warkentin on
Iquitos, Peru - flew out of Lima to northeastern Peru to the city of Iquitos which overlooks the Itaya River and is located very near the Amazon River. Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is only accessable by boat or plane.
Flying into Iquitos.The Amazon RIver in the background.
We had a brief stopover as we prepared for our two week adventure on the Amazon and ventured around the town and the Belen market. Here is a fresh fruit/juice stand on a side street nearing the market.
Almost 400,000 live in Iquitos - travel in the city is by bus but mostly by motorcycle or auto rickshaw (motokar).
Speeding along the streets in the back of the motokar!
Belen Market - a huge and, oft times, chaotic market perched atop the banks of the Itaya River and the floating village of Belen on the edge of Iquitos. It’s where the locals go daily - whether it’s buying or selling. Anything and everything can be found here. Along with a large section dedicated to plant medicines, there is meat and produce, fruit and whatever the jungle offers.
Arriving later in the day, we were not part of the droves of people that descend on the market early in the day. It had just stopped raining (surprise, surprise) and the the spoils left behind from a ruckus market and the plethora of smells along with the run-off of the recent deluge snaked its way underfoot and rose upwards inundating my senses. Buzzards pecking at a heap of tossed garbage greeted me as I turned the last corner at the end of this massive market. As I look through my photos now, I realize that I was so caught up (and admittedly, overwhelmed) with all the frantic action surrounding me while there and side-stepping the dripping water that drained from the tarps hung overhead that I took few photos. But what a market it was!
Below the frenzied Belen Market located on the banks of south Iquitos lies Belen proper - a town built on stilts which floods seasonaly and will be navigable only by boat with the peak of the water raising to its highest levels in May. October is usually when the water is at its absolute lowest. A giant concrete staircase of over 100 steps leads up to the Belen Market so virtually all goods brought in by boat on the Amazon are brought to the base of the hill and carted up the stairs to the market.
Some speculate that there are approximately 10,000 inhabitants in the floating village of Belen while other estimates are three and four times that. The waters can easily rise 20 feet by April each year turning this cluttered maze of buildings into a venice of peru. The air is hot and humid and filled with the smells of moist and rotting wood along with a mish-mash of smells emanating from the crowded Belen Market stalls.