Saturday, March 16, 2013

Amazonian Nights 1

Iquitos is the largest city of Peruvian Amazonian rain forests and capital of the Loreto Region and Maynas Province. We arrive here in the evening by airplane from Pucalpa and after unloading our belongings we rush to the Balen market.
The Belen Market is a huge outdoor “super” market that covers more than 20 blocks. It is a wonder market and almost everything that can be bought or sold can be bought or sold here. Half the market is floating in the branches of Amazon rivers. Floating shops are made with balsa wood that is the lightest weight wood in the world. Or rather it is a small floating town. This place is for people that can move around without fear. It has narrow aisles and some very exotic goods: something that is marketed as snake oil, turtle meat and eggs, tapir meat.

Iquitos Belen Market

The ride on a canoe around Belen is adventuresome: floating houses with televisions, dogs tied below so they won’t fall into the waters, children playing in or near water etc. etc. If you have a delicate stomach or who can see meat/dead animals, you might want to skip it. For everyone else, this is a once in a lifetime experience. This market is not for faint hearted people. Since we have no appetite to watch hundreds of kinds of animals including monkeys being slaughtered and butchered or grilled whole so that was our first and last trip to that market.

Iquitos Belen Market
In Witches Alley, you can see tincture and extracts made from hundreds of jungle plants for every kind of ailment. There are fruits and animals you’ve never dreamed of and so many strange things cooking on the grill. Unfortunately the market was closing at this time because there are no evenings on the equator. Sun sets there suddenly and then it is night instantly.

Amazon River area from airplane
We returned to our hotel with beers and then at 9PM again it was a serious confusion again about what to eat. Iquitos is a hostile place for vegetarian people and again we went to a supermarket and bought salads and breads to our hotel.

Amazon River Area
Some words about Balsa wood:
Ochroma pyramidale, commonly known as the balsa tree (also O. lagopus), is a species of flowering plant in the mallow family Malvaceae. It is a large, fast-growing tree that can grow up to 30 m (100 ft) tall.

Iquitos Belen Market
Ecuador and Peru supply 95 percent or more of commercial balsa. In recent years, about 60 percent of the balsa has been plantation grown in densely packed patches of around 1000 trees per hectare (compared to about two to three per hectare in nature). It is evergreen, or dry-season deciduous if the dry season is long, with large (30–50 cm/12–20 in) weakly palmately lobed leaves. Trees are classified as hardwood because of the shape of their leaves, so balsa, with its large, broad leaves is classified as hardwood despite being very soft. It is the softest commercial hardwood. The trees are harvested after six to 10 years of growth. The name balsa comes from the Portuguese word for “raft”.
Balsa lumber is very soft and light, with a coarse, open grain. The density of dry balsa wood ranges from 40–340 kg/m³ (2.5–21 lb/ft³), with a typical density of about 160 kg/m³ (10 lb/ft³).The light weight of the wood derives from the fact that the tree has large cells that contain water. After the water is driven off in an extended drying process (kiln dried for two weeks), the large surface area of the resulting holes gives strength. Unlike dry rotted wood, the surface is made of the usual strong cellulose/lignin mix. As it is low-density but high in strength, balsa is a very popular material to use when making light, stiff structures in model bridge tests, model buildings, and for the construction of model aircraft, as well as full-sized light wooden airplanes.

People cutting Balsa trees
Balsa wood is often used as construction material for radio controlled model aircraft and as a core material in composites; for example, the blades of many wind turbines are made partially of balsa. In table tennis paddles, a balsa layer is typically sandwiched between two pieces of thin plywood. Balsa wood is also used in laminates with glass-reinforced plastic (fiberglass) for making high-quality balsa surfboards and the decks and topsides of many types of boats, especially pleasure craft under 30 m (100 ft) in length. Starting with the 5th generation Chevrolet Corvette, the floor pan of the Corvette was composed of balsa sandwiched between two sheets of carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

Tribal village
Norwegian scientist/adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, convinced that early contact between the peoples of South America and Polynesia was possible, he built the raft Kon Tiki from balsa logs, and upon it he and his crew sailed the Pacific Ocean from Peru to the Polynesian Tuamotu Archipelago in 1947.
Some words on Kon Tiki because I am always an admirer of this journey.

Picture from Kon Tiki Journey
Kon-Tiki was the raft used by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. It was named after the Inca sun god, Viracocha, for whom “Kon-Tiki” was said to be an old name. Kon-Tiki is also the name of Heyerdahl’s book, the dramatized feature film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Academy Award-winning documentary film chronicling his adventures.
The voyage
Kon-Tiki left Callao, Peru, on the afternoon of April 28, 1947. To avoid coastal traffic it was initially towed 50 miles out by the Fleet Tug Guardian Rios of the Peruvian Navy, then sailed roughly west carried along on the Humboldt Current.
The crew’s first sight of land was the atoll of Puka-Puka on July 30. On August 4, the 97th day after departure, Kon-Tiki reached the Angatau atoll. The crew made brief contact with the inhabitants of Angatau Island, but were unable to land safely. Calculations made by Heyerdahl before the trip had indicated that 97 days was the minimum amount of time required to reach the Tuamotu islands, so that the encounter with Angatau showed that they had made good time.
On August 7, the voyage came to an end when the raft struck a reef and was eventually beached on an uninhabited islet off Raroia atoll in the Tuamotu group. The team had traveled a distance of around 3,770 nautical miles (c. 6,980 km (4,340 mi)) in 101 days, at an average speed of 1.5 knots.
After spending a number of days alone on the tiny islet, the crew were greeted by men from a village on a nearby island who arrived in canoes, having seen washed-up flotsam from the raft. The crew were taken back to the native village, where they were presented with traditional dances and other festivities. Finally the crews were taken off Raroia to Tahiti by the French schooner Tamara, with the salvaged Kon-Tiki in tow.

Original Kon Tiki in the museum
Thor Heyerdahl’s book about his experience became a bestseller. It was published in 1948 as The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas, later reprinted as Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft. A documentary motion picture about the expedition, also called Kon-Tiki was produced from a write-up and expansion of the crew’s filmstrip notes and won an Academy Award in 1951. It was directed by Thor Heyerdahl and edited by Olle Nordemar. The voyage was also chronicled in the documentary TV-series The Kon-Tiki Man: The Life and Adventures of Thor Heyerdahl, directed by Bengt Jonson.
The original Kon-Tiki raft is now on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo.
Call it cruelty or call it thrilling they killed many sharks on their raft for the fun of it. Sharks were always chasing their craft and they pulled many by their tails on the craft and mutilated them and used as bait to attract more sharks. Or they just pulled the big fishes and left those to die on the deck.

Picture from Kon Tiki Journey
They had a parrot also, the bird was always very excited when any shark is brought on the deck of the craft. Unfortunately one day parrot flew off and then ventured a bit far and was unable to get back to the craft as craft too was drifting with the current. It was a domesticated parrot who had no practice for long distance flying.
Note: Kon Tiki free ebook is available on many websites. It is an adventure book and you will begin reading it and they you won’t sleep before finishing it.
Will be continued ……….

Myristica Sebifera
Myristica Sebifera
This tree grows in Amazonian.
Due to its medicinal uses, this tree is highly engendered and almost extinct. This also grows in Kerala but there too it is almost extinct and rarely found. Nutmeg is also a variety of the same family and tree closely resembles in appearance.
This is considered a very important medicine.
Myristica sebifera medicine is derived from the fresh, red juice from the injured bark of the tree. It is especially used for such ailments as abscesses, phlegm, paronychia, furuncle, anal fissures, infections of the parotid gland, bacterial infected tonsillitis etc.
by William BOERICKE, M.D.
Presented by Médi-T
Brazilian Ucuba
A remedy of great antiseptic powers. Inflammation of skin, cellular tissue and periosteum. Traumatic infections. Parotitis. Fistulas. Carbuncles. Specific action in panaritium. Pain in the finger nails with swelling of the phalanges. Hands are stiff, as if from squeezing something a long time. Coppery taste and burning in throat. Tongue white and cracked. Phlegmonous inflammations. Hastens suppuration and shortens its duration. Often does away with use of the knife. Inflammation of middle ear, suppurative stage. Fistula in ano. Acts more powerfully often than Heper or Silica.

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