Sunday, 29 April 2007

The hour of the leaving is at hand ...

... so I thought I'd set down some semi-random, unconnected thoughts.

Just like normal, then.

I'm currently still deep in footprints on the ceiling territory*, but soon I'll be leaving Iquitos and heading down the Amazon to Brazil, if only to gain some temporary respite from the infernal panpipes, and I may be gone some time.

Two or three days, maybe.

* The first time I saw this phenomenon was in Greece as a callow youngster, and I didn't understand it till a few days later, covered in itching bites, when I found myself chasing a recalcitrant mozzie round the room with a flip-flop in my hand. "Oh, that's how you get the footprints on the ceiling" I realised as I lashed out again at the little flying f*cker.

Anyway, I don't think Iquitos can decide whether it wants to be a palace of virtue or a den of iniquity. In the main square is a rather public Alcoholics Anonymous building (for the incognito dipsomaniac who wants to be seen around town), a cohort of Christian evangelists who try to introduce you to G*d in this rather unlikely setting, even if you've merely paused for breath, and a big sign saying "Say no to child sex tourism", whose very presence seems to indicate that, sadly, rather too many people must be saying yes.

Just off the plaza is The Yellow Rose of Texas Bar and Grill, where the waitresses wear what you'd imagine was traditional Texan dress if your only frames of reference were Daisy Duke and a young Dolly Parton. That's next to the Iron House, where the bar staff wear the uniform of a nineteenth century English butler, and next to that there is the Casino (No Gambling). Now I'm not exactly a high roller, but even I know that if you have a casino with no gambling then what you have is an empty room and a set of playing cards.

The town is a lot like Puerto Maldonado, another jungle town with such a different climate to Cusco in the mountains that it feels like a different country.

Iquitos has the added bonus, though, of being almost ten degrees of latitude closer to the equator, so its even warmer. Gosh. The day starts off fiery in the morning sun, is seriously baking when the sun is directly overhead, becomes ovenlike in the afternoon, then somehow seems to get even more blistering when the sun goes down, and progressively more roasting through the night. Then the next morning the whole sorry procession starts again.

Iquitos also has a level of humidity such that when it starts to rain it doesn't so much increase the amount of moisture in the air as merely give it direction.

In this situation you perspire at such a rate that you'd need to be hooked to a saline drip to replace the fluids you're losing, you just can't drink fast enough, and rehydration has to be a significant part of your daily budget. I'm spending more than I spent on a room for a night in Bolivia on bottled water, and am still thirsty.

Speaking of drink, I like what appears to be the naming convention of Peruvian beers - I've had Cusceña (which I think I mentioned translates as 'girl from Cusco'), Arequipeña ('girl from Arequipa'), and now Iquiteña ('girl from Iquitos'). I hope this continues into Brazil, because it would amuse me to be ordering a Girl From Ipanema in some seedy bar.

So with that I'm off

Alpace to the sauce

A return to the old school:

Travellers' Glossary
apparently (adv) "It says in the Lonely Planet that ..."
Bolivian (adj) aggressive, unpleasant and confrontational, as in "He's a good bloke, but he gets a bit Bolivian when he's drunk"
hot (adj) not a solid sheet of ice, but pretty d*mn close, as in "of course this hostel has hot showers"
leg room (n) (LAm) no information associated with this entry
safety standard (n) a legal ruling intended to ensure that the minimum number of tourists dies in the pursuit of any particular activity, or at the very least, if they do die their relatives can't sue; (LAm) no information associated with this entry

Walk a mile in flip-flops, see what a stupid idea it is

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