Saturday, June 29, 2013

Peru-Brazil 2013 – Day 12 –Iquitos and the Laguna Quistacocha

We slept in, but by the time we had taken the last sip of coffee our plans were well laid. We were going to take the bus to Laguna Quistacocha, which is about 15 south of Iquitos. This was identified in the guidebook as a place popular among the locals for some weekend relaxation. Unfortunately the people here are not very good at giving directions, so their default is to defer you to a “moto-kar”. These are the same as tug-tugs or chug-chugs, as found in places as diverse as Merida, Calcutta, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Taipei, or Manila, and like their evil counterparts elsewhere in the world they have taken over the streets of Iquitos like a swarm of bees. The problem is that the driver of the moto-kar may have no idea of where is the place you want to go, but will full confidence will offer to take you there for a nominal fee of 2 Soles. Because we are foreigners we often get the “oh, that is so far” line and we get to pay 3 or 4 Soles for what end being a ride around the block!

So we fell in the clutches of an evil moto-kar driver, who after driving us all around dropped us a couple of blocks from the hotel, smack in the middle of the Belén market (the big, central market of Iquitos), to wait for a mini-bus to Quistacocha. Fortunately for us the Peruvians are very kind to foreigners, so they ushered us to the front of the mini-bus, and in total comfort made the 15 km to Quistacocha.

This is a recreational park in which, for a flat fee of 9 Soles (4 Soles for nationals) you get to visit the zoo they maintain, walk in the jungle, visit the exotic tree nursery, and bathe in the maintained beach of the lagoon. For little additional money you can have a delicious meal at one of the two waterfront restaurants. We dutifully visited the animals (a pretty good zoon for its size and budget), walked (and got lost) in the jungle, admired the exotic animals, walked in the wading beach, and plopped in one of the restaurants to quench our thirst with a couple of caguama-size Cristal beers, and to eat the biggest fish I have sank my teeth on, ever. It was deliciously delicious!

Our last hurrah brought much enjoyment to Annie. I didn’t know that dolphins are common along the Amazon, and that they are particularly abundant in the area of Iquitos, where several rivers come together to feed the Amazon. The place where two rivers meet is called the shock zone, and apparently fish get disoriented when they cross it, which attracts the dolphins. The most remarkable fact about these dolphins is that some of them are pink! Yes, quite pink as a matter of fact, a like flamingos likely a consequence of the creel they eat. Anyway, at the zoo they have a pink dolphin that they are training, and we stopped to see the training. After several tricks the trainer asked if anyone wanted to kiss the dolphin. I immediately lifted Annie’s hand, who had no idea of what was going on. She was thus one of the three people selected, and when the dolphin puckered up she quite fearlessly smacked a good one on the tip of its long snout. Annie was radiant. As a kid she had always wanted to be selected to pet the dolphins or whales, and finally she got her chance here in Quistacocha. She reports the “lips” of the dolphin are firm, a bit like the tip of your nose.

On the way back we took the simple bus and, because it was getting late, had to put on hold a boat trip to the jungle. We did arrange for a trip the following day with a young man doing business off the malecón. Then we bought some food to take along and came back to the hotel to veg and work on our notes (Annie is now writing the anti-blog, so between the two of us we might get most of the stories correct.) Unfortunately as I was writing late in the afternoon I had an attack of the munchies and had to go foraging for some potato chips before I could settle down to write. This diet of mine is not working . . . at all! 

No comments: