Urban Jungle

DSC02121missiles.JPG

This blog entry about the events of Monday, December 08, 2003 was originally posted on December 09, 2003.

DAY 51: Like Tarzan swinging from vine to vine in the jungle, I swung from person-I-could-possibly-trust to person-I-could-possibly-trust.  With the girls off on a flight back to Lima, I only had Richard to turn to for advice — which was a good thing in an urban jungle crawling with Shady Tour Men trying to make a quick buck.  Knowing a local also came in handy when I noticed the massive army that came marching into town in full attack gear with crossbows, missile launchers and machine guns.

Luckily, they were just marching in for an honorary ceremony in the main plaza.


I SWUNG FROM RICHARD to his friend Andres, a nice soft-spoken middle aged man who knew English.  Andres owned the adventure tour company Amazon Wilderness Expeditions that led hiking, canoing and camping trips out of a base camp in the jungle — an experience I wanted to have instead of the touristy jungle lodge experience.  Andres cut me a deal for five-days/four-nights from the stated price and signed me up to leave the next morning to the base camp 185 km away from the city, deep in the Amazon jungle.  He told me about the tourism bureau’s suggestion of giving the address of his company to people so that loved ones could have a way to try and track me down should I get lost — like the two Americans who went into the jungle recently that no one has heard from since.

With that said, the address is Jr. Putumayo No. 163 - Altos 202, Iquitos Peru.  The phone number is (51-065) 23 4565 in the event that you don’t hear from me in a week — in which case you should call the White House immediately to ask for some U.S. troops to be pulled out of Iraq to come search for me.  If they are too busy, I’ll settle for one of the Animal Planet hosts.


WITH THE THREE-DAY WEEKEND OVER, Iquitos was back to its usual busy self with people doing business in modern stores and getting around by mototaxi instead of by car — a rarity in Iquitos.  After breakfast, I had Richard take me to a couple of museums, the first being the municipal museum, about the wartime history of Peru during its conflicts with Ecuador and Columbia.  In addition to its exhibits about the generals and kamikaze pilots of wartime Peru, there were life-like statues of indigenous men and women, sculpted by a western artist who had live in villages for quite some time.  The statues were actual size, making it easy to pose with a boy on the rail.


THE ECOLOGICAL MUSEUMON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN showcased a preview of things to come.  Big diorama displays of taxidermed animals showed wildlife in its natural way — well, as natural as you can get being dead, soaked in chemicals, stuffed and molded into action positions like a G.I.Joe figure.  There were displays of snake skins — the largest being of the massive anaconda — actual skulls of small mammals and the jaws of a caiman that I hope never to encounter in real life.  The most interesting display for me — other than the little monkey in a big cage — was a lifesized model of a piracuru fish, a massive carnivorous fish ten-feet long, weighing up to 400 pounds.  They are common in the Amazon River and have been known to jump out to catch small prey on the surface.  Richard said they are caught via spearfishing and taste very good.  At 400 pounds, that’s one helluva Filet-O-Fish sandwich.  I can’t even imagine the amount of tartar sauce needed.

There was a middle-aged couple touring the museum as well, and seeing Richard acting as my guide, they asked him some quesitons as well — particularly “Where is that guy from that he needs a guide?”  The man spoke a little English, and so I explained — yet again — that I was American of Filipino parents and that Spanish wasn’t my native language.  He said he knew almost immediately that I was American because of my tiny camera.


SO FAR ON THIS TRIP I’ve been pretty discreet about taking photos, particularly in public.  I’ve heard many stories of cameras being stolen, and so not to attract attention to myself, I usually pretend I’m a spy — or rather, a six-year-old pretending to be a spy — by quickly whipping out my spycam Sony DSC-U30, taking a quickie and hiding it when I’m in crowded public places.  In “tourist” zones, like a museum, I am a little more open about taking photos — but this was the second time that day the camera “broke my cover” so to speak.  Earlier that morning I was videotaping the Amazon river from the riverwalk esplanade, and a guy who ignored me before suddenly had all these questions for me about getting a visa to the States.


ALTHOUGH HE NEVER ASKED, I paid Richard for his time and went about my day.  I checked out the church of San Juan Baptista, paintings by the locally famous impressionist-influenced Grippa, and Ari’s Burger, the well-known burger joint for locals and gringos alike, in the stylings of an American 50s diner complete with waitresses in period clothing.

Even in the jungle they have Happy Days.


AT NIGHT I CHECKED OUT the riverfront esplanade bar scene, which was pretty relaxed due to the fact it was a weekday.  The most action there was avoiding the dozens of boys trying to sell foreigners cigarettes or gum.  One boy was really aggressive and sat down at my table for a whole 15 minutes trying to sell me a box of Chiclets like a used car salesman.  (He never bothered me until he saw me take out my tiny camera.)

On the internet, I looked up some of the animals I might encounter on my five-day trek in the wild Amazon jungle, the scariest being the candiru fish, a small, transparent skinny fish with spines that is known to swim up people’s urethras if they pee in the river.

If you don’t hear from me in a week, you have the tour company’s number, but I’m sure you’ll hear my screams whereever you are should I have an unfortunate incident with a candiru.

Here I go again…N.I.Z. for five days.  I hope survive the Amazon and be back in town by Monday sometime, hopefully without a scratch and all my limbs attached!

In the meantime, you can catch up with blog entries you may have missed.  If you’re all caught up, you might be interested in reading my old journal from when I did the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2001 with my friend Johnny.  (I’m skipping it this time around.)  The full-color 56 MB PDF file is here, and the much smaller, text-only PDF is here.






Next entry: Welcome to the Jungle

Previous entry: Houses On Stilts




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Comments for “Urban Jungle”

  • WOOHOO, i might have skipped a week but i’m all caught up!

    anywho, what was the book that you were published in??? I should check it out!

    I’m sure you’re enjoying your days smile as for me, i’ll be heading back to the city at the end of the week smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  03:47 AM


  • Hey Kuya Erik, See you here in Philippines next Christmas 2004. We’ll be waiting for you. ARIEL

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  05:22 AM


  • if you look up candiru fish on google and hit “i’m feeling lucky” there is a picture of WHEAT….hahahah

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  11:56 AM


  • Don’t forget the recipe I gave you for the Piracuru. Good luck, don’t go swimming, and watch out for snakes wink Face you fear!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  01:40 PM


  • Be careful. Why are you thinking of swimming in the river anyway??

    Posted by Neven Armanios  on  12/09  at  02:58 PM


  • If you do go swimming in the river, may I recommend Jimmy Hats?  They’re not just for breakfast any more.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  03:21 PM


  • what does N.I.Z. mean??

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  04:18 PM


  • Scott:  N.I.Z. = no internet zone

    Erik - Cool pics of Peru =)  Stay safe!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  04:23 PM


  • Be careful out there! We’ll all look out for you on Monday!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  05:02 PM


  • markyt: Is WHEAT some sort of inside joke acronym?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/09  at  05:09 PM


  • Be careful young Skywalker, you are not invicible… especially when in a jungle! Take great pics, and be sure to meet and mingle with the indiginous folks.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/10  at  03:55 PM


  • Gorgeous colors on the riverwalk and the church - one of the things I love about Non-American buildings… Have fun - and don’t pee in the river.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/10  at  09:36 PM


  • ERIK!!! I’m very jealous of you right now.  Be safe.  take care of yourself…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/11  at  02:18 PM


  • Td0t - WHEAT is just one of many readers…however WHEAT is a special reader…he used to take one of those small buses to school and had to wear a helmet….

    basically I’m not sure WHEAT has been, so i’ve been blasting him on this blog, till he reputes…

    tranquilo, tranquilo

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/11  at  04:43 PM


  • Hey erik, Robin left for her HONEYMOON already and I’m headed to the city this weekend! it’s No amzon but the people SURE DO miss you!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/11  at  08:49 PM


  • ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch…..please don’t pee in the river!

    maria

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/12  at  05:32 PM


  • Just caught up after 5 days of missing your blogs. Been hell week. Beautiful pictures of the Amazon! And yeah, the image of Iquitos was such a contrast to the river views!

    Best journey as always!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/12  at  08:49 PM


  • saddam captured!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/13  at  01:50 PM


  • Aaand I’m back from the jungle.  Stories to come—it’s all I plan on doing today…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/14  at  01:24 PM


  • Erik - blogheader.gif is not being shown on my browser…not sure how it is for others….might need to rebuild….i already tried reuploading the file…

    oh yeah….WHEAT es un pez….

    tranquilo, tranquilo

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/14  at  02:35 PM


  • Hey Erik, I’m gald we didn’t have to send the military after you.  I’d hate to see what you looked like after a week in a spider hole.

    Posted by matto  on  12/14  at  07:17 PM


  • Thanks markyt! I guess I’m on the inside now.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  01:56 AM


  • Yes, I realize that html tags don’t work here…

    BTW, the hedder isn’t loading for me either.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  01:58 AM


  • Markyt/td0t:  header should be working fine now…  i had to eliminate a redirect i had in my template and use an exact absolute url… yes, i’m a nerd.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/15  at  03:06 AM


  • Ariel:  Yes, I’ll be there almost exactly one year from now…hopefully!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/16  at  12:51 AM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Welcome to the Jungle

Previous entry:
Houses On Stilts




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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