Multiple Foodgasms

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Dec 22, 2011

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, October 24, 2011

Food, food and more food.  Good, cheap, tasty glorious food.   I can't stop eating this magnificant  food.  In fact, food is all I want to do here.   All sorts of local dishes I have never before experienced are filling my stomach and wowing my senses.   After a dryspell in Colombia, finally achieving multiple foodgasms in one day is a welcome relief.   Since last night I have been planning my whole day around the next meal and even cheating on breakfast, lunch, dinner by sneaking in some snacks such as Shambo.   Yes, I see you scratching your head wondering what the hell Shambo is.   It's fresh fruit juice such as a coconut banana combo frozen into popsicle form and sold for a whopping 30 cents.

Hi.  My name is Jake, and I am now a Peruvian food addict.  Seco de Res, Pollo con salsa de mani, Pollo de abodobo...Handwritten names like these on tattered sidewalk signs offer absolutely no clue what they are but take the plunge and pure pleasure is what they turn out to be.   Where else can such cheap thrills for only a few bucks be had?   $2.50 or so buys soup, a main meat dish, rice and beans or potatoes.  Even some sliced red onions marinated in lime juice and spices made the perfect side for my lunchtime chicken smothered in an orange colored herb sauce.

Finding such amazing cuisine in a city isolated from the world is not at all what I expected. 
Geographically speaking Iquitos is unique among its peers.   A complete lack of road access from there to here leaves just the boat or plane for connections to the outside world.   In fact, the 370,000 Iquitosians are the largest population group on the planet not linked to a streetbased transportation network beyond their immediate city.   One byproduct of this isolation is a huge amount of motorcycles rather than cars.  What few cars do roam the grid pattern of streets are largely beat up and past their prime.

The hour and a half or so flight across the Andes to Lima is the quickest and least painful way out of town.  The fastboat cruising the 370 kilometers between Leticia and Iquitos in about 12-13 hours is the next best option.   The Leticia journey is easy to put in perspective...add another hour and a 747 can travel between LAX and Sydney in same time it takes to transit that tiny section of the Amazon.  

Other than the plane or fastboat, Iquitos really is up the creek without a paddle.  The slowboat takes a full 3 to 4 days to reach small towns such Yurimaguas in the Peruvian hinterlands.  From there multiple bus connections over 2 rough days crossing the Andes will finally bring a traveler to Lima.   Or you can do like me and buy a plane ticket for the short hop across the mountains and just be done with it! 

RIght now the river that serves such a vital link to Iquitos has dropped away from the downtown area as the "dry" season wears on.  The street I am staying on is the waterfront but water is a distant sight down the hill.  Being October the Amazon has reached its lowest stage of the year until snowmelt from the Andes recharges its depths.  By spring the whole plain will flood with waters rising up 40 feet and again my street here will be prime riverfront real estate.   I just can't even fathom how much water must flow to flood such a broad area.   Even yesterday we passed areas of the river that seemed to be over two miles wide in the low season, and I have a hard time picturing the surrounding areas taking even more of a water bath.   

Iquitos has been a unique and remote stop on this journey.   Since I already spent a few days in the jungle exploring around Leticia, I am going to move on from here and head to other parts of Peru,  I fly in the morning to Lima but beyond that I still have yet to decide where the roads will take me.
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