The Slums of Belen

Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  , Loreto,
Friday, February 10, 2006

I have arrived in Iquitos, a loud, hot, slightly crazy jungle town in Peru that boasts the title of the largest city in the world without road access... you can only arrive or leave by plane or boat. The half million inhabitants here all get around on scooters and motor bikes probably making it the loudest city in Peru. It also sits right on the Amazon river and is an ideal place to start excursions into the jungle or to points down river into Brazil. I arrived by plane but will depart by boat eventually. I am in the Amazon basin and the weather here is much hotter than I am used to and sleep only comes thanks to a fan that I turn on myself all night.

Surprisingly, one of Iquitos' main tourist attractions is the poor shanty town in the Belen neighborhood. Belen not only sits along the Amazon River's banks but in the river itself. Some call it the "Venice" of the Amazon ...most just call it a slum, which it is. Many of the hundreds of huts here that people call home are floating in the river and rise and fall with the water level throughout the year. It's rainy season right now so the water is fairly high and will continue to rise well into March and April where the main street will flood and the homes there have a second level for good reason... the first level doesn't exist for part of the year. A trip through the Belen market is never dull as people try to sell you magic jungle potions that cure anything and everything. All your fruits, veggies, and meats that look like they've sat out too long in the mid-day heat are also available. I posted plenty of pix from touring around the slums...I hope you can get a sense of what life is like here for these people. It's a crazy way to live and I found it strangely fascinating.
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sammi on

pictures are beautiful... belen is awesome.

maldivegirl on

thank you for posting the pictures!

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