IQUITOS - Portal to the Amazon by Cliff Tulpa, Author

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IQUITOS Portal to the Amazon Cliff Tulpa Copyright Š 2014 Cliff Tulpa All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof, may not be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder. For information or to order copies of this book contact Publisher: Tulpa Publishing 2210 W. Main St. 107-322 Battle Ground, Washington 98604

First Edition 2014 ISBN : Hardcover 978-0-692-21512-8 Library of Congress Control Number: 2014940044

Special pricing provided to schools, libraries and municipalities. Contact Tulpa Publishing for order information.



Cliff Tulpa Author / Photographer Adventurer, Explorer, Expedition Leader, Photographer and Videographer, Cliff Tulpa has traveled the world through 40 different countries on 6 continents from the highest mountains, to the coldest frozen Arctic, to the hottest and driest desserts to the flooded tropical rainforests of the Amazon and Africa. Leading expeditions into the most remote places on earth to film and to host the award winning television series, Cliff’s Wild Outdoor Adventures. Cliff’s love of wild places allowed him to film and photograph the wild animals and the local native indigenous people with their cultures and lifestyles for more than 20 years. Those extensive international expeditions, sometimes several months in duration, have included:  traveling by dogsled with the native Inuit across the frozen Arctic Ocean and Arctic Islands filming Polar Bears and Muskox  trekking into the Outback of Australia 8

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climbing in the high altitude air-less “roof of the world” of the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan to film Marco Polo Argali, Ibex and snow leopard; climbing the vertical Caucuses Mountains of southern Russia to film Tur; the north and south islands of New Zealand filming Tahr, Chamois and Red Deer South Pacific island nation of New Caledonia to film Java Rusa Deer; filming giant Alaska Brown Bears in the falling ash as Mt. Shishaldin Volcano erupted on Unimak Island; horseback and climbing throughout the northern Canadian Rocky Mountains of British Columbia filming Stone Sheep, Mt. Caribou, Moose and Mt. Goats; living with the nomadic Kazak people in the Altai Mountains of far western Mongolia filming Altai Argali Sheep and Ibex;

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climbing and walking the Great Wall of China; filming Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Grand Canyon of Arizona while living with the Hualapai Indians; trekking into the Andes Mountains of Patagonia in Argentina to film Red Deer; completing 26 lengthy safari expeditions to Africa, Cliff has worked extensively with wildlife conservation programs and anti-poaching in many different African countries including Cameroon, Central African Republic, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius and South Africa.

Most recently, Cliff has been filming and photographing in the Amazon Jungle, its people, their customs and traditions based out of Iquitos, Peru. Cliff has lived with the indigenous natives in the Amazon, learning and adapting to their jungle lifestyle of hunting, fishing and gathering the jungle fruits and plants. After 5 years of intense immersion within

this Amazon Jungle culture, Cliff has written “IQUITOS -Portal to the Amazon” and shares his insights of this unique native culture along with many of his photographs. Cliff adds, “This is the real Iquitos, the way it is now with its people and culture. It is not filtered like tourist books.” When often asked, “why Iquitos”? Cliff responds, “because it is the most wild place left on earth”.






Front Cover: top left right

Balsa raft brings bananas down the Amazon to Iquitos. Peki peki on a river in Iquitos Casa Fierro— the Iron House by Gustave Eifel at the Plaza de Armas, Iquitos

Back Cover: “Boora Snake Dancer” Artwork by Iquitos Artist, David (Slocum) Hewson. 2-3 Photo of Iquitos from space taken by astronaut. The Amazon River, at bottom and golden brown color as it is full of silt from draining the Amazon basin. Image courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center. 5 A young Iquitos woman with a symbol of the Amazon Jungle Rainforest, a Green Anaconda. She is holding a small Green Anaconda of about 10 feet. A large adult female Anaconda can grow to over 30 feet and weigh over 600 pounds. Anacondas, the world’s largest snake, are constrictors and non-poisonous. 6-7 Common method of transport is by use of “peki-peki” - A large wooden canoe with an 8hp to 15hp motor. The propeller is on a long drive shaft for use in shallow water. 8 top

Author Cliff Tulpa on the Amazon River onboard his speedboat, the Maranatha I.

9 top Cliff Tulpa visits with the native children in an Amazon Jungle village along one of the many rivers he has traveled to film and photograph. 9 bottom On one of his expeditions of several months, using small dugout canoes, Cliff Tulpa journeys deep into the flooded Amazon Jungle.


Contents Part 1

Text Cliff Tulpa Photography Cliff Tulpa Artwork David (Slocum) Hewson Anderson Debernardi Contributors David (Slocum) Hewson Plant Medicine

Dr. Richard Bodmer Indigenous and Maritime Museums

Dr. Patch Adams Belen Clown Project

Introduction to Iquitos People of Iquitos Iquitos City Tour Neighborhoods of Iquitos To see around Iquitos Iquitos - Amazon Cuisine Jungle Fruits Jungle Tours - Wildlife Myths and Superstitions Shamans and Healing Plants Artists, Photo and Contribution Credits

19 22 36 50 74 120 136 144 160 168 176

Part 2 Resources and Recommendations Healing Centers - Ayahuasca Iquitos Accommodations Amazon Jungle Lodges and Tours Iquitos Dining River Cruises - Jungle Transportation Bars - Entertainment -Nightlife Professional Services

182 186 199 208 220 244 253 258

10-11 Native hunter travels by canoe with dogs through the jungle in search of animals such as capybara, majas, monkeys, deer, peccaries, rats, ducks and birds. 12-13 Traditional houses in villages along the rivers are built on poles to stay dry, as the water levels of the rivers rise and fall throughout the year. 14-15 Street scene from Punchana, a neighborhood in the northern part of Iquitos. Although mostly a poor neighborhood, Punchana is a busy and fast growing area of Iquitos with many new stores and houses. 16 opposite Living with the rivers, young children learn at an early age how to use and navigate their wooden dugout canoes. Lifestyle is controlled by the river water levels and annual flooding of the Amazon, Nanay and Itaya Rivers . 17 left Floating houses called “balsas� (rafts) - of the neighborhood of Belen. Lower Belen is usually flooded for several months annually. The use of floating houses prevents them from flooding and allows them to use their houses year-round. 18 next - map - Iquitos (red circle) is isolated and located in the northeast part of Peru, deep in the Amazon Jungle Rainforest and on the bank of the great Amazon River.



Introduction Founded as a village of Iquitos Indians in the 1750’s by Jesuit missionaries, Iquitos is a wild frontier city and a major gateway or Portal to the Amazon Jungle Rainforest. Getting to Iquitos is either by airplane, or several days journey by boat. It is the largest city with no roads connecting it to the outside world. Situated at the confluence of three rivers, the Amazon River, the Nanay River and the Itaya River, Iquitos is an important shipping port and is the center of trade for the upper Amazon region of Peru. The borders with Columbia and Brazil are just a short distance down the Amazon River from Iquitos. Large commercial shipping vessels can reach Iquitos by traveling up the Amazon River through Brazil from the Atlantic Ocean. It takes about 23 days by boat to make the 2,300 mile journey from the Atlantic Ocean to Iquitos. With a population approaching 500,000, this frontier city on the edge of civilization is home to a mixture of several tribes of indigenous native Indians of the Amazon Jungle and adventurous foreigners (extranjeros). Some of these extranjeros come to Iquitos looking for a more natural lifestyle, some looking for a more basic life, some to leave a past life behind and start fresh, some lured by the natural plant medicines, natural hallucinogenic drugs, and some trying their hand at the many opportunities available from extracting the rich natural resources of wood, oil, gold, rubber, minerals, animals and plants of the Amazon region. At the turn of the century in 1900, Iquitos was a bustling business center with about 9,000 inhabitants. It was the days of the rubber boom and the wealthy Rubber Barons

that exploited that wonderful natural resource. They created and brought great wealth into Iquitos and built outstanding buildings with fine architecture. Marble and other building supplies were shipped and imported from Europe. The famous French architect Gustave Eiffel built the Casa de Fierro (Iron House) and it was purchased and moved from France to Iquitos by one of the Rubber Barons. It is situated across from the Plaza de Armas. Baroque and Rococo style was brought in along with architecture styles from Spain, Portugal, Germany and France. Most of these fine buildings are still standing today and are a vital part of Iquitos charm, culture and attraction. The days of the rubber barons are gone. However, now is the time for the Oil Barons, Wood Barons, Gold Miners, Pharmaceuticals and others extracting the natural resources from the Amazon basin and making fortunes. Iquitos is now also a major Amazon tourist destination. Over 250,000 tourists are estimated to have visited Iquitos in 2012. Since the Amazon River being named as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World in 2012, tourism has flourished and is expected to continue to increase. New hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and shops have opened. Direct International flights are available. Many new Jungle Lodges have been built along the rivers just outside the city. Iquitos is growing and changing, but for now it is still wild. “IQUITOS - Portal to the Amazon� will take you on a photo tour and explore the attractions and the charm of Iquitos. 19


The Amazon is known as the “lungs of the world”, with the rainforest producing so much oxygen. Iquitos is an equatorial zone city, so temperatures are warm and humid throughout the year. When you arrive in Iquitos and depart your airplane, your first impression is the very warm, tropical, oxygen rich, moist air. It feels good and is easy to breathe. The next impression as you leave the airport is the thousands of motorcycles and three wheel rickshaws called “motokarros” jockeying for position on the streets. From the airport, you will probably be taking a motokarro to your hotel or lodge. The driver will tie your luggage on the back of the motokarro with string or a piece of cloth and you will get a thrill riding through Iquitos as they race recklessly through the streets.

No roads connect Iquitos to other developed cities outside the Amazon, making it the largest, most isolated city on any continent. Without other destinations or roads to drive to, and with the proximity of everything in Iquitos relatively close, privately owned cars are usually not necessary. With very few cars in Iquitos, motorcycles and motokarro taxis are the preferred method of transportation. The people of Iquitos use these motokarros for almost all transport, and you see them carrying crates of eggs, bunches of bananas, even tying a mattress on the roof. You will need change in soles to pay the motokarros as the drivers rarely have more than a couple soles on them. Expect the driver to stop for gas while you wait, as they normally only buy about .50 cents at a time.

19 bottom - Cars are rare and most people travel by motorcycle, bus or by “motokarro” or “mototaxi”, a three-wheeled motorcycle rickshaw. Inexpensive, the motokarros usually will take you anywhere in central Iquitos for less than $1.00 and to other neighborhoods and places in Iquitos for less than $2.00. From City Center to the Airport or return is about $4.00. 18 left - Safety is an afterthought as most motorcyclists do not use helmets. 3 or 4 people on a motorcycle is common with babies tucked loosely under the arm of the reckless mother. It is a miracle they don’t have more severe accidents and deaths. Most drivers do not have insurance. Many do not have licenses and it is common for the police to set up check points daily and issue citations for those without license or paperwork.


People of Iquitos The Iquitos natives were here before the City of Iquitos was established. Now Iquitos is a mix of natives from the Amazon basin including the Cocama-Cocamilla, Boras, Yaguas, Huitotos, Shipibos, Urarinas, Matses, Achuars, Jeberos and several more tribes, along with extranjeros (foreigners) and mestizos (children of mixed Indian natives and extranjeros). As the largest gateway market to the Peruvian Amazon Jungle, Iquitos draws many indigenous natives from the remote Amazon Jungle villages. They journey for days by “balsa” rafts, “pekipeki”, by canoes or they may get passage on a “lancha” river boat ferry. By whatever means they have, they come to Iquitos to trade, to sell, to buy, and to work making Iquitos their home, even if only for a temporary time. Most will return to their jungle villages with


new clothes, machetes, boots, stereos, metal pots and pans, salt, spices and other staples they buy. Some will return pregnant with a new baby from a quick romance in Iquitos. Many of these natives don’t return to their jungle villages and try to make Iquitos their permanent home. Iquitos is filled with jungle natives that are trying to make it in a very different world where they need money to survive. Voting in Peru is mandatory by law. Thousands of remote jungle natives must endure the journey to Iquitos to vote in the elections or face criminal fines and penalties. All citizens of Peru are required to register with the government and are issued a government tracking number and national identification card called DNI with photo and fingerprint. Many natives from the jungle do not have a DNI.

23 top Using a “balsa” raft to float down the Amazon River with a load of Bananas to sell in Iquitos. This treacherous journey takes many days and they use plastic tarp as tents to keep dry.

22 opposite - The inside of a “lancha” ferry boat shows the need for a hammock for the many days and nights of river travel to get to Iquitos.

23 bottom right - The chief of a native village travels with his wife by peki-peki to harvest “plátanos” bananas, papayas and other tropical jungle fruits. Some will be sold at the market.


28 top Small monkeys taken from the jungle are favorite pets for the children of the Amazon Jungle villages. 28 left A young boy plays in the street in front of his home. Even though Iquitos is in the tropics and very near to the equator, sometimes it can get cold. The locals use whatever extra clothing or hats they can find on those days. Most young children don’t have or wear shoes. 29 opposite The many years of hard work supporting a family and life in the Amazon Jungle can be seen on the concerned face of this respected local man.



The people make Iquitos a special place. The friendly people are the biggest attraction of Iquitos. They welcome tourists and foreigners with a smile and greeting. They are very open and friendly people. The streets are safe and clean. Violent crime is rare. However, like any city, there are plenty of street hustlers, cons and beggars. Street markets hold pickpockets and petty thieves, so take extra care about your money, camera and possessions when visiting the many open air street markets of Iquitos.

There are also many “bricheras” (hookers and con-artists) with elaborate con-games waiting for the opportunity to trap an extranjero to get his money, or to pay their way or buy things for them. So take extra care when an overly friendly local wants to show you the city, or has a special deal you need to know about, or would really love it if you were to buy some clothes, shoes or whatever, or invites the family to have dinner and drinks with you and has you pay, or says is very hungry and asks you to buy dinner, then doesn't eat it, and takes it home for family.

30 top Every night, Iquitos is filled with people cooking over “carbon” (charcoal). The alluring scent of the “asado” bar-b-que in the air drifts through the streets and draws you in. Here on the streets with the many “asado” vendors you can get some of the best tasting food in Iquitos!

30 bottom There are no shopping malls in Iquitos. Small family owned shops are the normal stores in Iquitos. Here a family-owned hardware store in a Punchana neighborhood also sells parts, oil and grease to service the multitude of motorcycles and the three wheeled motocarros.


31 top The people cook “asado” or bar-b-que everyday on the streets and in open air markets. It is actually a social time for them to talk about current events, politics and gossip. The traditional way of cooking fish is in bijou leaves. The bijou leaves give the fish a unique and delicious flavor. Sabalo, Corvina, Doncella, Paiche, Paco or Gamitana, Boca Chico, and many of the catfish species are the local fish favorites. Also on the “asado” here is “lagarto” (caiman), chicken, chorizo sausage and “cecina” (red colored dried pork jerky)

Visiting Iquitos is like taking stepping back in time. To a time when families stayed together visiting on the front porch and sidewalks with their neighbors. Iquitos families enjoy taking daily walks in the neighborhood to meet and talk with their friends about current events and things happening in and around the area. On weekends, the men will normally tell stories, jokes and lies, play cards and drink beer all day. The women will gossip and cook, preparing some special dish for the family. The whole time the stereo blasts out cumbia music at such high levels it’s difficult to hear anybody talking! As a result, the people talk very loud. The people of Iquitos love to get out. Day and night you find people filling the streets, shops and parks. They will go to watch football

(soccer), to the markets, to the cinema, and to the parks, plazas or Boulevard. And they love to dance. Every Thursday through Sunday huge outdoor dance halls with live bands such as Explosión or Ilusión are playing Peruvian cumbia, salsa and other music styles to thousands of people of all ages dancing and gyrating wildly. A very provocative and sexy dance style. The population census also shows far more women than men. You have probably never seen so many young people smiling and laughing, ready to dance, play, and flirt for fun. Every holiday is celebrated and there are a lot of parades and parties. Iquitos loves to party and it is evident with many festivals and celebrations throughout the year. 31


Many of the visiting foreigners “extranjeros” find the flirting of the young friendly native women of Iquitos very attractive and easily fall in love. There are old and deep rooted superstitions and legends of the beautiful women of the Amazon River or “sirens” that capture the hearts of the extranjeros, then never leave Iquitos. The children of a mixture of these indigenous natives and extranjeros are called “mestizos”.

This has been happening for hundreds of years, since the Spanish Conquistadors fell in love with the beautiful native women, then followed years later by the extranjeros of Europe during the rubber boom, and continuing today with the extranjeros that visit or come to work in Iquitos. Some extranjeros never leave Iquitos as they become enchanted and captured by their new “jungle love”.

34 - 35 The young women (chicas) of Iquitos are friendly, talkative and approachable. Since they are so outwardly friendly, sometimes tourists mistake their smiles as personal flirting to show interest, but really it is just their custom here in Iquitos and they just love to smile, laugh and dance.



39 top Overlooking the Plaza de Armas, one of the most famous buildings in Iquitos is the Casa de Fierro or “Iron House”. Designed by famous French architect, Gustave Eiffel. It was shipped from France to Iquitos and reassembled in 1890 during the Rubber Boom era. 38 opposite Also overlooking the Plaza de Armas is the clock and bell tower of the Catholic church “San Juan Bautista Church, or “Iglesia Matriz”. The church, built in 1919 is listed as an historic site. 39 right Many elegant mansions were built during the Rubber Boom. Faced with painted tiles “azulejos” from Portugal, is the former Palace Hotel, built between 1908 - 1912 on the corner of the Malecon Tarapacá and Putumayo.


Neighborhoods of Iquitos


Punchana Above The four Municipalities or Districts of Iquitos: 1) Iquitos - central 2) Belen 3) Punchana 4) San Juan Bautista


Iquitos has four municipalities or neighborhoods. The central part of the city is Iquitos and shares its municipality with the offices of the Province of Maynas. The Eastern municipality and home to the largest Amazon outdoor market is Belen. The southern municipality, and newest and largest, with the most area for growth is the municipality of San Juan Bautista. The northern district is the municipality of Punchana and is from central Iquitos to the Nanay River at the port of Bellavista Nanay. Punchana is a mixture of old and new. With a fast growing population, many new homes and shops are being built each year. New government investment for installation of sanitation sewers and street paving is modernizing Punchana. Some parts of Punchana flood from the Nanay River during the high water rainy season from January through May. During this time, the residents either move to another location that is dry or keep raising the floor in the house to stay above the water. 51 top Punchana shopping is in small family run neighborhood stores called bodegas or in the street markets. 51 right center Commercial colorized family portraits of the children are traditional and commonly found on the walls of most of the homes of Punchana and throughout Iquitos. Without personal cameras, these wall portraits are normally the only “photos� the families have of their children. 50 opposite Typical residential street in Punchana. New homes are being constructed. Some with baked clay bricks, but most are wood . Roofs are either metal or leaves. Improvements by the city are promised, including a planned sewer system rather than the open sewer ditches along the streets as they have here now. 51 bottom Newly paved commercial streets in Punchana have new stores and the traditional open-air street markets.


On the east side of Iquitos, the neighborhood of Belen is most known for its open street markets full of items from the jungle and from all over the world. Belen is also a landing place for many of the natives that immigrate from the Amazon Jungle villages to Iquitos. Some come to sell jungle fruits, vegetables, fish and meats. Belen is the center of commercial activity in Iquitos with trade from the Ama62

zon Jungle. In return, the jungle villagers will buy shoes, boots, clothes and other necessities to take back to their jungle villages. Belen is also known for its floating houses built on rafts or balsas. The shanty-town Belen homes are built of wood poles, boards, plastic, clay brick and whatever other materials they can find to use for building. The roofs are made of either leaves or sheet metal.

Neighborhoods of Iquitos

Belen 63 top Children play in their houses during the rains and high water. Many of the children will work in the market with their parents. Some will go to school.

62 oppositeThe Belen neighborhood floods annually as the Itaya River rises during the high water season of January through May. Wooden plank walkways are built and used as roads to access the homes in the neighborhood. They must be adjusted frequently as the levels of the river rise and fall. Sanitation is almost nonexistent as residents use the river directly for their water supply and waste. Some will buy water for drinking, but many will drink and use water directly from the polluted river.

63 bottom Typical Belen house on stilts. The houses in Belen are mostly one room. Some may add a small partition or plastic for a toilet area. Many have open walls to allow the breezes to help cool the house in the hot tropical weather of Iquitos.


Annual Gesundheit!

Contribution by Dr. Patch Adams

Belen Clown Project “The original impetus to start a project in Belen is the finding of 3 five-year old children in one day with gonorrhea. There was (is) no perception how to stop child sexual assault rather the desire to stay committed to the community to see what can happen.” - Dr. Patch Adams 10 years ago, Gesundheit! and Bolaroja clowns, in a meeting with Belen citizens, conceived the Belen Project, a collaborative effort to energize Belen citizens’ dreams for a healthier, happier community. From the original idea to paint every house in Lower Belen, the project has evolved to include workshops for children in art, dance and music; mural painting; community health outreach programs; parades, talent shows, and the purchase of land for the building of a community center, Belen’s first.


Clowning is the central action through which we connect with the community. Our experience working and playing in Belen has taught us much, particularly the crucial necessity of coupling our intentions with the performance of deep collaborative social action. Whatever else the Belen Project is, it is also an exploration of the social dimensions of individual and community health. Our “clown strategy” combines play, art, work, healthcare and fun. Caring actions while working together are contagious. Caring clowns are cared for by Belen’s people. Through the years, the Belen Festival continues to evolve to more intelligently address Belen’s needs, and to give volunteers opportunities to learn about the roots of poverty, the richness of Belen’s social architecture, their collective creativity and resilience.

The 9th Annual Belen Festival, August 5-17, 2014, brought 130 clowns from 16 nations together with the children and families of the Belen neighborhood in Iquitos, Peru, a gateway city to the Amazon. Sponsored by Lima based Bolaroja and Gesundheit Institute, clown volunteers returned to the streets of Pueblo Libre, Belen’s riverside district, continuing this collaborative community development project. Clown volunteers from ages 2 to 75 (60 of whom were newcomers) joined with the residents of Belen in an intensive in joyful volunteer service. Parades opened and closed the festival to celebrate the return of the clowns and the joy of

another completed Belen Festival. The celebration echoed through the tightly packed streets of Belen, as music provided by clown musicians and the Peruvian Navy Marching Band combined with the driving Murga rhythms of the percussionists. The theme of this year’s festival, “Nutrition”, was designed to address the high incidence of malnutrition, which affects one out of three Pueblo Libre children. A traveling street theater production with costumes, music and dance, demonstrated the combination of local and readily available food groups to achieve optimum nutrition. Over the course of the festival, the performance was enjoyed by hundreds of Belen Pueblo Libre children and parents.


2014 Belen Project Clowns Iquitos - Plaza Ramon Castilla



74 top At one of the main entrances to the Belen Market vendors sell chicken & pork products- staples in Iquitos. There are many poultry and pig farms just outside the city.

74 bottom- Harvest time for beans (frijoles)

75 top left Children sleep while their parents sell the bananas they helped bring to the to market. Unfortunately many children work and do not go to school. Child labor is a problem in Iquitos.

75 top right Jungle native is selling a large wild white caiman or lagarto. He will cut and sell by the kilo.

75 bottom left The market has many vendors for mapacho tobacco grown locally in the jungle. Cut and rolled into cigarettes or rolled into cigars or “puros�. Also available is toe’, similar to tobacco but can be a strong hallucinogenic.

75 bottom right Salt fish is common in the jungle and in Iquitos. Necessary without having the luxury of refrigeration in the jungle. Fish not sold fresh that day will be salted for sale the next day.

76-77 Commercial wild bush meat. Much of it is illegally sold in the Belen Market.


In and Around Iquitos

Belen Market

The commerce center of the Amazon region is the Belen Market. One of the largest open air markets and largest in the Amazon, the native villagers bring their products to trade and sell. You will find tobacco and toe’; rice; fish of all kinds from the Amazon rivers and lakes: paiche or arapaima, sabalo, doncella, corvina, paco or gamitana, sardines, ractacara, tucunare or peacock bass, carachama, boca chico, arawana, jacunda, payara and piranha; vegetables, yuka

or cassava; jungle fruits; chicken - both domestic raised and wild from the jungle; wild bush meat (some illegal) from caiman or lagarto, peccaries, red brocket deer, turtles and turtle eggs, monkeys, majas and armadillo; bananas, jungle honey, spices, oils, coconuts, aguajes, peanuts, beans, sacha inchi and other medicinal plants, roots and potions; clothing and house supplies. Almost everything available in Iquitos can be found in the Belen Market.




78-79 Fresh Fish in the upper Belen Market. Some of the popular fish here are tucunare (peacock bass), paco, gamitana, corvina, sabalo and boca chico. 80 top Almost all items needed by the native villagers can be found in the Belen market including clothing, shoes and housewares. 80 bottom At one of the main entrances to the Belen Market are many vendors of juanes (rice wrapped in bijou leaves) and tropical fruit juices.

81 top Fresh fish is cooked on the bar-b-que in Belen Market. Here they are cooking carachama, boca chico on bijou leaves, and sweet ripe bananas (maduros). Tell them which one you want and take a seat for lunch! 81 bottom A very tasty and popular fish is the carachama. Almost prehistoric looking with hard bony exterior scales, fresh carachama with the eggs is a local delicacy. Chili Cano is a favorite soup made from carachama, onions and cilantro. Usually for breakfast, so you need to get to the market very early! 82-83 next pages Many illegal sales in the market tropical birds, bush meat of brockett deer and other jungle animals. Also protected turtle eggs.



In and Around Iquitos

Beaches With the many rivers and lakes, Iquitos has several beaches close by that the people enjoy. Most famous and very busy on the weekends are the beaches at El Tunchi Beach - Quistococha, the beach at Pampachica on the Nanay River, and the beaches at Santo Tomas on the Nanay River Young, old and entire families enjoy going to the beach with the refreshing waters to help cool off on a hot tropical Iquitos day.


101 top A young Iquitos mother takes her family to the El Tunchi Beach at Quistococha. 100 opposite Pretty Iquitos girl enjoys her weekend playing at El Tunchi beach in Quistococha. 101 bottom Two young “chicas� go for a swim after playing in the sand at a Napo River beach.



In and Around Iquitos

Quistococha Zoo and Tunchi Beach

102 top The Jaguar or “tigre” or “otorongo” as he is called locally, is the largest cat predator in the western hemisphere. With powerful jaws and a strong swimmer, he rules the jungle. 102 bottom left El Tunchi Beach - clean sand, warm bathing water, good food and cold beer. Tables with leaf roof to shade from the hot tropical sun.

102 bottom right - Tapir or “sachavaca” one of the largest mammals in the jungle. Very elusive, rare to see one in the wild. 103 top right The scarlet macaw or “guacamayo” is a colorful bird of the jungle. Some people have them as pets. 103 bottom left El Tunchi Beach at Quistococha is a favorite for families.


Quistococha Zoo and Tunchi Beach are located just south of Iquitos at kilometer 6.5 on the Iquitos—Nauta road. The zoo holds many of the jungle animals including jaguars, ocelots, margay, tapirs, monkeys, caiman, anacondas, dolphins, paiche, capybaras, pumas, and giant river otters. There is also a serpentarium to see the snakes, an aviary for birds and an aquarium to see many of the fish of the Amazon. Enjoy these rainforest animals at Quistococha. Most people will not get to see these animals in the wild as they are naturally deep in the jungle, shy and mostly nocturnal. 105 opposite Blue and Gold Macaw or “Guacamayo”. The largest in the macaw family. Popular for pets, as they are friendly and with their ability to mimic or “talk”.

104 top Within the Quistococha complex is a white sand beach on the lake called Tunchi Beach. The waters of the lake are clean and warm to swim.


104 bottom Many pools are open for display of the Amazon aquatic animals. A river dolphin entertains the children that come to see him. There are both the grey and pink dolphins in the local rivers and lakes.





122 Making “farinaâ€? - yuka is cooked and stirred over fire until it becomes a dry granola. This can be kept for months and eaten as is or in soups or other dishes. 123 top PlĂĄtanos Maduros (ripe bananas) on the charcoal bar-b-q. Once cooked, they are soft and very sweet, sometimes as desert. 123 bottom Menudensia (chicken hearts, liver, gizzards, neck and feet) are cooked with aji panca (chili sauce), sliced aji dulce (sweet chili peppers) and onions. Usually served with rice. 124-125 Asado de Suris- Live Suri worms are marinated, then put on skewers for the BBQ.






Iquitos Dining

Jungle Cuisine 130 bottom Piranha are a delicious fresh fish in the Amazon Jungle. There are many varieties: White, Black and Red are common.


130 top A Blue and Gold Macaw (Guacamayo) watches closely from his perch.

131 top Jungle camp cook prepares a monkey for lunch. First burning off the hair and scraping the skin clean, then BBQ or in a stew with yuka (also spelled yuca).

131 bottom Native jungle guide prepares a fresh catch of lagarto (caiman). This size are delicious and a food staple in the jungle hunting camps of the natives. Usually the tail is cut into very thin fillets, and pan fried. The remaining parts are cooked over the BBQ.



The markets in Iquitos are filled with the many different tropical fruits from the jungle. Visitors to the markets see all the fruits and wonder what they are. So here is a reference for your next trip to the market. As with most natural fruits, some of these have seasons and you may not find them all at the same time. Some of the fruits are eaten, some are used to make the sweet refresco drinks that you find in

Cacao (also page 138)

the Iquitos restaurants and in the street markets. Maracuya (passion fruit), camu camu, cocona and carombola are the most popular. More of the fruits are starting to be sold and shipped internationally, like the antioxidant rich Camu Camu, with one of the highest vitamin C content (up to 60 times more than orange juice). Camu Camu can be eaten raw although a bit tart. Best in a refresco!

Arasa - Guayaba Brasilera







Shimbillo 139

The most popular fruit for the locals is the aguaje that comes from the aguaje palm that grows in the flooded jungle. Most locals in Iquitos eat the aguaje fruit and many believe they are addicted to it and have to have it every day. You will see aguaje stands where they peel the aguajes and sell them in little plastic bags normally with some salt. Depending on the time of year, they are usually 5 or 6 for one sole (about 30 cents). The aguajes are a great antioxidant


Maranon - Cashew

Huito 140

and one of the best natural sources of beta carotene—Vitamin A (reported at 20 times more than carrots) as well as vitamins C, E and minerals. Aguajes also contain phytoestrogen. Because of the phytoestrogen, many believe this fruit to cause curves in women for larger butts and larger breasts and make them more fertile. The most favorite fruit drink in Iquitos is Aguajina, made from the aguajes. Enjoy trying some of the great fruits and drinks of the jungle!




Carambola - Star Fruit



(also page 141)


Jungle Tours & Wildlife



Green Anaconda


150 top and left This is the largest male Green Anaconda measured in the wild. This Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) measured 20 feet, 10.5 inches long from nose to tip of tail (6.4 meters). This is a male, females will grow much larger. There are numerous reports of large Anacondas of 10 meters or more, however, so far they are just exaggerated stories and none proven or actually measured. Over the years, many of the Anacondas that the villagers have told me are 10 meters or more, actually turned out to be 5 to 6 meters. So far in the wild, none have been measured over 10 meters and claims of that size are only rumors. If you were in a 3 meter canoe and saw a 6 meter Anaconda, you would think it was over 10 meters! 151 top Notice the multiple teeth all angled back allowing only one direction when holding prey - inside the snake!



160 opposite “Mitologias Amazonicas” - visionary art by Anderson Debernardi

Myths and Superstitions

MYTHS - MITOS As the native people of the jungle in their tribal villages try to understand their surroundings, and things that happen they cannot understand or explain, it is normal for them to create stories, myths and superstitions to use as explanations. Most of these myths and superstitions are related to the jungle and the animals they encounter on a daily basis there. Some myths were created and repeated time and again to keep children afraid and not to wander off alone into the jungle. Some legends are perpetuated and used by parents to try to control the sexual urges of their growing children. And some myths are ways to explain the

fear created of living in a jungle where most of the animal life is nocturnal and to explain what goes bump in the night… For millennia, before the present day churches and missionaries brought their recent new religions to the natives, they had their own gods, beliefs and religions. Most of the native religions were based on the life of interaction with the natural world around them. Myths and legends were their way to pass on these beliefs to future generations. Their gods and religions are based on the natural plants and natural order of life in the jungle.

Pachamama Pachamama is the goddess of nature or mother earth. She is the goddess of harvest and fertility. After receiving sacrifices, she is considered benevolent and giving. Many rituals are performed with offerings to Pachamama. Some of the older rituals involved sacrificing animals, although today most are providing a plate of food. The worship of Pachamama is to preserve the nature and the Amazon rainforest for sustainable use practices by the native indigenous people. The purpose is to live in harmony with the natural world. There has been an increase in awareness of the need for balance with nature and mother earth with the increasing extraction of oil, gold, wood and other natural resources from the Amazon Jungle.

161 above - “Pachamama” - visionary art by David „Slocum‟ Hewson


Myths and Superstitions

Chullachaqui The Chullachaqui are believed to be the descendants of ancient beings living deep in the jungle. They are supposed to have special powers that allow them to change shapes and to imitate animals of the jungle. Changing into an animal, they can lure a hunter deep into the jungle so he cannot find his way back.

Chullachaqui can shape change except for his one leg that is of a goat. Considered by some tribes to be very aggressive, dangerous and has killed many humans in the jungle. Some believe he is a protectorate of the jungle and kills those that come to exploit the natural resources.

162 Chullachaqui watches as woodcutters take illegal timber in the jungle. Artwork by David ‘Slocum’ Hewson.


Myths and Superstitions

El Tunchi El Tunchi is the spirit of people who had become lost and died in the jungle. Their evil spirit wanders the jungle making eerie sounds. The sound is a high pitched whistling sound that gets louder as the Tunchi gets closer and closer to you. The natives believe that it is best to ignore the sound. Never respond to it, or the Tunchi will come and kill you, and give you a most horrible and painful death.

Local Superstitions The people of Iquitos have many beliefs and superstitions. Some have background in witchcraft or brujería or jungle lore and others are superstitions passed down through the generations. It is also common in Iquitos to hire a witch to put spells on ex-lovers or ex-spouses. Here are a few more: 

Wearing yellow underwear on New Year. Women wear yellow bras and panties, and men wear yellow briefs or boxers. At New Year, you will find most stores in Iquitos selling yellow underwear!

Take a bath in special flowers and herbs to wash away the old evil spirits and allow the new good spirits to enter the body for the New Year.

Put packets of rice, beans and other seeds into your pockets on New Year to bring good luck.

Put 12 grapes into a glass of champagne and drink the champagne and eat the grapes at New Year making a wish for the new year with each grape.

Dust each other with corn starch at the midnight of the New Year for good luck!

When traveling with a baby, the mother needs to talk to the baby and call the baby’s name continuously so the spirit of the baby can follow and find the body to be there when the baby wakes up.

Put a dot on the end of a baby’s nose so that his eyes see together and look at the same place.

When a baby coughs or is choking, pull on the ear.

If a fishbone gets stuck in your throat, turn your plate around and around and the bone will dislodge. 167

Shamans and Healing

Ayahuasca Ceremonies Contribution by David ‘Slocum’ Hewson of Amaru Spirit Ayahuasca comes from a native Quechua word “aja-waska’ meaning literally “spirit vine” or “vine of the soul”. Ayahuasca ceremonies have been used for thousands of years by indigenous groups in the Amazon regions spanning Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil for healing, insight and spiritual cleansing. Ayahuasca is an extraordinary healing force, perhaps the most powerful in the world. Ayahuasca, the highly hallucinogenic, psychedelic concoction brewed from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine with other plants containing DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) such as Chacruna, is producing tremendous tourism to the Peruvian Amazon. People of all ages and backgrounds are taking a journey to Iquitos and nearby specialized healing centers deep in the jungle to experience the magical healing powers of the Ayahuasca, vine of the soul. Ayahuasca claims include the ability to cleanse the body physically and make it stronger, healthier and more resistant to disease. Ayahuasca can also make us aware of our addictions and unhealthy emotional patterns so we gain insight and the ability to choose differently in how we do our life and relationships. For many people, the use of Ayahuasca is a deeply spiritual experience.


“Ayahuascera” - Artwork by David Slocum Hewson


“Powers of the Amazon” Artwork by Anderson Debernardi


Iniciacion Shamanica - by Anderson Debernardi 179


Part 2

Iquitos References and Recommendations 

Map Central Iquitos

184- 185

Healing Centers


Hotels - Hostels


Jungle Lodges and Tours


Restaurants - Dining


Cruises - Boats


Bars - Entertainment - Nightlife


Professional Services



I hope you have enjoyed IQUITOS - Portal to the Amazon as much as I have in putting it all together. This project began as an idea to share a snapshot in time of this rapidly evolving part of the world. As an explorer and adventurer, I love the wild places and the people that I meet along the way in my journeys. It is the different cultures of these native people and their traditions for adaptation to their local environment that makes each place unique and special. The jungle is rapidly changing as the indigenous natives move away from their homes along the great rivers and tributaries to give up their hunting - gathering lifestyle in order to live in the city. Jungle life is not easy. It is hard work to depend on yourself everyday by hunting for food, obtaining or creating shelter, defense and protection, self medicine for health, as well as trying to raise families in a communal village. The awe and impression of the new world life of the city is exciting and alluring to the people of the jungle. They have hope for a better and easier life for their families. However, most find the transition difficult or impossible as they do not have the education or skills to live in the modern civilized world. Many become an ever growing part of extreme poverty, living in shanty -town slum neighborhoods. Losing their proud and independent life where the jungle provides everything they need, and become dependent on the need for money to survive. Just as most people from the city would not be able to survive in the jungle, the natives from the jungle find it equally difficult to make a life in the city. So the jungle, its people and Iquitos will continue to change. The Iquitos you see here in these pages will not last long. If you are in Iquitos now, or are able to get here soon, please enjoy this magical and unique city with it’s wonderful friendly people. Iquitos and the Amazon Jungle, the last great wild place left on earth. If you are dreaming of visiting and experiencing the wonders of the Amazon Jungle, I believe the best place to start is here in Iquitos, Portal to the Amazon. Wishing you the best on your journeys, Cliff Tulpa Iquitos, 2014