Saturday, March 16, 2013

Amazonian Nights 2

We are in Peruvian town of Iquitos that is on the Amazon river. We wake up in the morning in our hotel room.
We have to plan ahead as we are to go to Columbia. From this jungle city of Iquitos there are only two ways to get in or get out; flight or boat. There are no roads in the impenetrable Amazonian jungles. There is a one hour flight to Letticia or a ten hour high speed jet boat to Leticia that is little more expansive than flight. We walk to jetty in the early morning and book seats in the jet boat for the day after tomorrow’s run. Leticia is a jungle town in Brazil on the borders of Peru and Columbia.

Amazon River Area

Then we walk to the Amazon River or actually at the confluence of Amazon and Nanny rivers. Iquitos is located in the middle of the Amazon river system. It is located on the left bank of the Amazon River, which provides the city’s economic life, including trade and transport. Itaya and Nanay rivers are a natural boundary of the physical expansion of the city: one located in the south and the second to the north, which both flow into the Amazon. Near Iquitos there are also a number of ponds and lakes, notably Moronococha Lake, which defines the city in the northeast. This feature makes the city as an island.
Nanny River brings clear water and Amazon is a vast river and mostly muddy. We can see the water for several kilometers as it is an ocean. Since it is not rainy season so Amazon is not at its widest shape here yet but still it is at least 6 kilometers wide and far far away we can see trees at the other side. At the river bank ladies are making some strange things with bananas. These ladies are meshing up banana with a large egg-beater like spring. Banana gets meshed and swells up to the brim of the large plate. Local people are eating it with bread but we love it as it is but it is not complete breakfast. Then we eat toasted breads with roasted bananas. Otherwise most of the shops are selling food made of this or that animal’s meat.
Iquitos’s most famous dish is the juane, and restaurants serve a variety of exotic jungle juices made from the cocona and camu camu fruits. Main plates include paiche con chonta (fish with palm heart salad) and tacacho con cecina (fried banana mixed with smoked pork meat). Inchicapi de gallinais chicken soup with peanut, cilantro, and manioc root, picuro or majás rodent stew etc.
Apart from these typical foods, many restaurants offer bush meat, including alligator, river dolphins, deer, turtle stew, and even grilled monkey. Eating these plates only encourages illegal hunting, these exotic animal foods are sold all over the city even on the pushcarts.

Iquitos Balem Market
As sun comes up and it gets instantly hot in this equator area. Many kids arrive and begin swimming in the water of the river near boat jetty. We watch them, I only wonder about the vicious Piranha fishes those are all over in these waters and fish is edible and is sold everywhere. I also want to swim in the river but I am apprehensive because already one pirahna fish took away a chunk of flash from my calve in Pucallpa, one week ago.
My fears come true when a kid comes running out of water with a hand sized piranha fish hanging to his arm. He is bleeding and then his friends also come out and they help him to get off the fish. All kids are now fighting with this kids for why he went in the water when he had an open wound. Open wound can attracts piranha fishes and bathing becomes dangerous for all. We see boats arriving with the catch and see many piranha fishes along with other strange animals and fishes. We are told that real jungle starts if we take a boat to far away villages and then walk for some kilometers. That dense jungle is called here Silva. I came here to witness that dense Amazonian jungles where we need a light under the canopy of trees because it gets so dark.

Amazon River Area, baby crocodile and a marmoset monkey
A boat man chases us and begging us to ride on his boat; he says he will take us to the local village where people including women wear only a small skirt make of leaves. He begins from 100 dollars for the trip but keeps reducing the price till he stops at $15 and we three agree.
He asks us money in advance and we pay him. He takes the boat to the marine petrol pump and spends all the money in the petrol.
He takes us on the boat on the Nanny River that is also a big river about half kilometer wide. After some distance river splits into the maze of several branches and he keeps running his narrow boat from one branch to other for several kilometers and finally stops in the forest and ties the boat. We follow him for 3 kilometers in the jungle and there we enter in a small village with thatched huts. All people here are almost naked except the butt skirt make of leaves. Women are busy in the daily chorus that includes skinning various dead animals including a large turtles, some alligators, snakes and fishes. Fishes are drying that includes deadly piranha fishes. We don’t see any young men here because they all are gone hunting. We only see women, children and a couple of old man. Women are not shy of us but invite us in their common communal shed and we go there and sit on the floor. They ask us if we want some drink or soup but we decline because everything is made of some animal. We only ask for water.
As we walk out of the village area ground is full of live insects and we see some snakes and one small anaconda. That is the reason everybody sleeps on the hammock tied to the wooden poles because ground is full of deadly insects. Boat man leaves us alone in the jungle and disappears. Jungle is deadly and alive with many things and strange sounds but mostly snakes and critters. Wildlife is mostly hunted down in nearby areas and people go far away to hunt. We are in jungle but it is not that kind of Silva that I always dreamed off or saw in the movies.

Amazon River Area
This jungle is cut and burn farm area or rather ex farms. Tribal here cut and fell the trees and then in dry season they burn the area. Then they sow some yucca and sweet potatoes etc on the ground among stumps. Clay soil is not much fertile and in couple of year’s earth is exhausted of its minerals and yield drops significantly. Then people move on to the next patch of the jungle and burn it up. In 3-4 years jungle returns at the burnt place but can never become a real Silva in the true sense. That is the reason it is Kerala like jungle, most trees are up-to 50-60 feet high but not the 400 feet tall canopy of trees and dark underneath.
We take the trail and return to the river and our boatman is nowhere to be found. Even his boat is missing. We don’t owe him much money so we are apprehensive. There are no other motor boats but some canoes only suitable for at most 2 people for short distance but Iquitos is at-least 15 kilometers from here. We see a canoe returning with a killed crocodile in it. We ask the man but he does not understand Spanish. We are at least 12-15 kilometers far from Iquitos and in a maze of Amazon River tributaries. It is 1PM and we are hungry. We can go back to the village in the maze of jungles but we have no appetite for entrails and meat of strange animals. It is apparent that our boat man has left us here in the jungle and ran away. There are three more canoes in the water and we can steal two canoes but then what, we don’t know the way in the maze of the hundreds of rivers in the jungle.

Amazon River Area
We wonder around the jungle for two hours and now we are extremely hungry. We try eating some fruits and berries at random but taste is so bitter and we give it up. Moreover any step away from the clearing of the trail is dangerous because of many insects and most dangerous fire ants.
We hear a motor boat coming and we run to the water to stop it. It is our boatman; he has a man and a cargo of goods. We shout and fight with him but he explains us that we didn’t even pay him enough money for fuel and he had no money at all and for the lure of initial fuel money he took us. He says, he had no choice but to search for other passenger and cargo. He gives us a bunch of bananas and strange jungle fruits saying that we must be hungry. We thank him for his being so considerate. Bananas are unripe and other strange fruits are tasteless but we finish everything.

Amazon River Area
I wonder about what is in the cargo because it does not appear to be some hunted animals. . I am very curious to know about what it could be because I love to know about plants. Man with the cargo is preventing me to peek in the sacks and boatman also hints me to not to bother looking at the cargo. Man runs his boat and then stops the engine at the appearance of a tributary of water. There he arranges his boat in such a way so to look first ahead if any other boat is in that area. Then he starts the engines. This goes on and on. He is taking lesser known water ways and narrow canals in the water. It is apparent that he is carrying some illicit cargo and is avoiding being detected. We also don’t want to get into any trouble and we also help him.
He stops the boat at another bend of the river and jumps out. We all jump out, there both men remove the sacks on the bank and then he asks us to follow his other passenger whereas he himself takes his boat and disappears. We follow this man and walk for 2 kilometers in the jungle and then find another larger canal that is about 100 meter wide. While hiding in the bushes, here we see a blue boat with Policia written and Police men keeping the vigil on a rivulet inlet with binoculars. It is eminent that we were to come out from that inlet.
We run back to some other place by the water, there we find our boat hidden in a cluster of trees in the water. We push the boat back in the deeper water and then jump on the boat and then return to the same place where they dropped the sacks. We all help loading the sacks in the boat and now boat runs in a different direction. After some kilometers we catch the larger canal and then in the maze of many narrow canals we arrive upon the main Nanny River. Now our boat merges in the other boats. After some times we see a police boat followis us with red and blue lights flashing. Police men are pointing guns to us.
They shout to us and we shout back, “Tourists, Americano Citizens.”
It appears they don’t believe us because we look more like Amazonian natives than white Americans.
Police boat comes near us and they join both boats.
They keep shouting us in the native language but we keep replying them in our halting Spanish.
We show them our passports. One man opens one passport and then laughs at us.
“Nacido en la India.” (Born in India)
“Si.” (Yes)
They waive to us and jump out of our boat and then begin chasing another boat and stop it in the water.
After some kilometers Nanno River meets Amazon River and merges into more river traffic and as Iquitos comes and we thank God for the safe return. As we jump off the boat I again ask the boatman for what is the cargo and I want it to know for the curiosity. He takes out a small blackish looking spongy object from the sack and gives it to me. I look at him in question and he takes his 2 fingers to his lips to gesture the smoking symbol.
It is 7PM and we are very hungry. We buy bread and eat it with roasted bananas. The idea of visiting Balen market is gross and we have no appetite to watch hundreds of kinds of animals including monkeys being slaughtered and butchered or grilled whole. We walk on the town avenues and then retreat to our room to sleep.
Lachisis Mutus
Extremely poisonous and a large snake found in the Amazonian rain forests. Its venom in air can kill an adult.
This is considered as a one of the most important remedy used for the left sided ailments.

Lachesis Mutus
by William BOERICKE, M.D.
Presented by Médi-T
Bushmaster or Surucucu
Like all snake poisons, Lachesis decomposes the blood, rendering it more fluid; hence a hæmorrhagic tendency is marked. Purpura, septic states, diphtheria, and other low forms of disease, when the system is thoroughly poisoned and the prostration is profound. The modalities are most important in guiding to the remedy. Delirium tremens with much trembling and confusion. Very important during the climacteric and for patients of a melancholic disposition. Ill effects of suppressed discharges. Diphtheritic paralysis (Botulinum). Diphtheria carriers. Sensation of tension in various parts. Cannot bear anything tight anywhere.

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