Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Final Day in Iquitos

The day we left Peru we did not fly out until the evening, so there was still one final day to enjoy. After luxuriating in our wonderful hotel room and breakfast buffet, i set out to the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and animal rescue. To get there i took a 4 Sole tuk tuk ride from the hotel to Bella Vista-Nanay, a nearby town along a tributary of the Amazon. It had started to rain, so when i was dropped off at the muddy market along the river, i waited out the rain at a floating cafe and watched the boats depart.

I then found a boat heading to Padre Cocha, the village where my destination was located. I had been told that a boat would cost 20-30 Soles, but the going rate seemed to be 3, which suited me just fine. I got on a  simple boat with a thatched roof and run by a rickety motor. I was the only tourist on the boat which was mostly filled with locals and items going to or from market. The trip wasn't very long, but suddenly seemed to take forever when water began entering the boat and a couple of people had to pitch in, bailing water with buckets. This made me nervous, but we were always swimming distance from shore and i just tried to put giant Amazonian fish out of my mind. No one else seemed too concerned.

We arrived and i landed in the village.  There were no signs, but the place wasn't very big, so i just started walking, figuring that i would find a sign at some point.  I walked past the simple houses, which were not on stilts, due to the village being elevated somewhat from the river. It was a pretty, sleepy little place and the few people i asked about the butterfly farm seemed to have no idea what i walk talking about, despite my passable spanish and excellent butterfly charades.

Finally, i saw a sign, or rather, a series of signs, leading me along an increasingly tropical and beautiful jungle path.

The farm raises rare butterflies and takes in and rehabilitates animals that have been rescued from abuse and smuggling (and in one case, a monkey who had been trained to work as a pickpocket in the city). Some of the animals will be released into the wild someday and others are no longer able to live on their own. There were butterflies at various stages of growth, monkeys, an ocelot, jaguar, birds, a python, and other creatures. Many of their stories were sad, but it was a nice day trip from Iquitos and it was great to see such rare animals.

I headed back by boat to Bella Vista-Nanay (this time suffering not a near sinking but an engine that regularly cut out and left us adrift), where i spent sometime at the market, ogling the giant grubs being grilled up for snacks (and being thankful of my vegetarianism).

We flew out that night, from Iquitos to Lima, Lima to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to Vancouver. We even got upgraded to business class on one leg of the trip. The business class seats were entirely unbooked i guess and in some weird, racist airline policy, the only white people on the flight got bumped up. One couple, with a white woman and her Mexican partner, found that only she was offered an upgrade. I can't support the policy, but i did not decline the upgrade. I'd never pay for first or business class, but it really is better.
I wish i didn't know that.

And that was it for Peru. I am happy with the trip. I did everything i wanted to do and didn't feel rushed. There is always more to see, but i am happy with our choices. I think i am done with South America for a while, but this was a great trip. Home now and time to start daydreaming about the next destination.
dale raven north

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