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Entries in Iquitos (7)



Huito (Genipa americana L.) fruits offered casually for sale in the Iquitos market (see Belén Market, Iquitos). The fruits are pretty tasty, but a more interesting use of this plant is as a body paint. When the juice from the fruit oxidizes, it stains the skin brown. This is what indigenous Amazonian groups use to paint their faces before hunting, going into battle, or visiting a girlfriend. The dye from huito is essentially permanent, which explains so many tourists getting on the plane in Iquitos to go home with black lines on their faces.  


Los Añujes

I spent most of my years in the Peruvian Amazon living at the IIAP field station in Jenaro Herrera (see Jenaro Herrera and Overnight Boat to Jenaro), but whenever I was in Iquitos I would stay at the Quinta Schaper with my dear friends and colleagues Christine Padoch and Miguel Pinedo Vasquez. Miguel had two añujes (Dasyprocta punctata Gray) that he kept around the house as pets (shown above in Elysa's arms). 

Once, when Christine and Miguel went to the field for an extended period of time, Miguel arranged for one of his friends in Iquitos to "take care" of his añujes. Unfortunately, the meat of these cute little animals is very tender and tasty and highly esteemed in the Peruvian Amazon, and to "take care" of pets, for some people, apparently includes roasting. The añujes were nowhere to be found when Christine and Miguel got back. Sigh.



The guys at the port in Iquitos who help you carry your bags or cargo (e.g. refrigerators, motocycles, etc.) on or off the boat are known locally as "chaucheros".  I originally took this picture to show the boxes of camu-camu fruit (see Camu-camu) coming up the hill.  Looking at it now, I am more impressed by the chauchero going down the hill carrying the two 55 gallon drums.


Cigarette Roller

Every time I walked through the Belén market in Iquitos (which was a lot in the early 1980's), this lady was at her post rolling black tobacco cigarettes. I actually smoked in those days, but I was never brave enough to buy a "100 pack" from her.

These hand-rolled cigarettes were also used as "mapachos" to cast spells on people.  A shaman would put a spell on the cigarette, and the spell would be transferred by lighting the cigarette and then blowing smoke over the appropriate person. I was given three mapachos containing an "undying love" spell before traveling to  Mexico to see Elysa (we weren't married at this point). I felt a little sheepish about lighting up and blowing smoke all over her, but I thought "hey, you never know".  We've been married now for 23 years. Go figure.


Risky Business

When the riverboats ("lanchas') are docked at the Iquitos harbor, a lot of little boats converge on them to load and unload cargo. When you look down from one of the lanchas, as when I shot this picture, you appreciate how precariously these little wooden boats are wedged in between two large, extremely heavy, metal  hulls.  If another lancha arrives and tries to squeeze in to the dock, or a big wave moves through, these boats would be snapped like a breadstick. [NOTE: The lancha shown on the right with the yellow railing was called "Ferry's. It was my favorite boat to take upriver to Jenaro Herrera (see Jenaro Herrera)].


Belén Market, Iquitos

The Belén market of Iquitos (see Real Big Fish) gets inundated every year during the floodpeak of the Amazon River.  The residents of this part of the city have come up with several different strategies for dealing with the annual flooding. They build their houses on stilts (see Danau Sentarum), or on pontoons (floating logs, actually), or they build two storey houses and simply move upstairs during the flood.  The last strategy requires shoveling out a lot of mud once the floodwaters recede. [NOTE: The image above was taken in the mid-1980's.  Since then, the Amazon River has changed course and no longer flows right in front of Iquitos.  The Belén market, however, still floods every year.  Now the floodwaters come from the Itaya River.]


Real Big Fish

This fish seller was casually walking through the bustling Belén market in Iquitos, Peru.  No one - except me - gave him a second glance.