IQUITOS - Portal to the Amazon by Cliff Tulpa, Author

Page 21

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.