Iquitos - one of the largest cities in the Amazon jungle, yet there are no road connections to any other major city in they world (there is a recent road to the town of Nalta near the official start of the Amazon). For once, the phrase "All roads lead to Rome" (or to Cusco) has no meaning. Even this far up the river, it is navigable by ocean going ships, although they do not usually come up this far.
Being a city on the banks of the Amazon, fish dominates the menu. And a quick walk through the old Belém market this morning, I was quite impressed with the variety and quantity of fish for sale. And like the rest of Peru, fresh fruit is also readily available, and quite cheap.
Because of its relative isolation, it is a bit more expensive when compared to some coastal towns, but not really that much more expensive. It is a vibrant town, and the setting for many expeditions to the jungle. And like most tourist trades, it caters mostly for the tourist: luxury and semi luxury lodges, speed boats, swimming pools ... some of the offers almost seem like theme parks.
After a lot of thinking, especially considering the considerable financial outlay, I have decided to go for a much more of a wild jungle trip. At this point, both Asher and Daniel have decided to press on to Brazil and make their way to Salvador. I have decided that instead of spending money on expensive dorm beds in Salvador (50 US $ a night, minimum 7 nights) to spend it on the jungle trip ... I will still make it to Brazil for the Carnaval, just not to a major Carnaval city.
The jungle trip, is in many ways roughing it. It will be just me, the guide (who speaks fairly good English) and his assistant, for 5 days in the Jungle, far from any luxury lodge. There will be camping on 2/3 nights and at least one night in an Indian village before, one night in a simple hotel before I get a boat for a day and half to the border. Like all nature expeditions, nothing is really guaranteed - but I have a fairly good chance of seeing animals in the wild and it should be an interesting experience.
I leave later today ... and if all things go well, I should be able to blog about my experiences in the jungle next week, from Brazil. Of all the things I have done on my trip, this is both the most terrifying and the most exciting ...