There are a lot of dogs in South America. That is actually a massive understatement. There are a literal metric fuck ton of dogs in S.A. I guess without Bob Barker reminding people to spay and neuter their pets the population just exploded. Sometimes its cool, like if you’re walking down the street, being followed by 10 dogs. It make you feel like a champion, a dog hero. Other times it’s pretty annoying, like being woken up by 20 barking dogs outside your hostel. By far the best looking dogs live further south, and the ugliest dogs are in the jungle. These pictures are of the ugliest dog I have ever seen. He was hanging out on the bank of the river in Pucallpa, Peru.
You’ll notice that the title of this post is not past tense, and that’s awesome. Right now, at this very moment, Guns N’ Roses (that’s a wiki link and if you click it I might come to your house and junk punch you for not knowing GNR) is being played all over Peru. Get in a bus and listen to a little Appetite, go to the grocery store and you can hear Use Your Illusion (whole album). It’s on the radio, in peoples cars, and at the mall. The only thing I didn’t hear was Chinese Democracy…..
From Lima, it took an overnight bus and 5 days on a cargo boat to reach Iquitos. Getting back took about 2.5 hours on a 757 (I made up the 757 part, I have no fucking clue what kind of plane it was, but it was big and fast). You can easily book tickets from Iquitos through one of several airlines. We flew Peruvian Air for about $85 each. Well worth it to save a week of travel. Plus, you get to see the jungle from the air, which is worth it after being down there. It’s incredible. Nothing but impenetrable green jungle all the way to the horizon in every direction.
On the edge of Iquitos, on the edge of the Amazon river, is the Belen district. Actually, it extends well into the river. This neighborhood starts in the river floodplain, where the lower floor of every building is flooded each wet season, and extends into the river itself in rows of floating houses. This portion of the Amazon actually rises up to 15 meters each rainy season, so everything is adapted to this huge change. The schools, churches, and public buildings are all on stilts, and there are two floating bars. There are also restaurant boats, a floating gas station, and the equivalent of a floating mini-mart. The only downside is that each house, or row of houses, has its own floating bathroom, so everyone is shitting in the river next to where they catch fish and wash their clothes.
After five days travelling downriver from Pucallpa, we reached Iquitos, the largest city on earth not connected by roads. Home to over 400,000 people, Iquitos is actually a pretty big, and pretty nice city(considering where you are).
There are only two ways to travel into the Peruvian Amazon: fly or catch a ride downriver on a cargo ship from Pucallpa. If you’ve got the time to take the boat here’s what you do:
While we were in Pucallpa killing time I decided that I wanted to buy some tobacco and papers to roll my own cigarettes. It’s fun and its a good way to waste time while slowly killing yourself (don’t smoke kids, it’s bad for you and will only make you look cool, not be cool). This is generally a pretty easy request. Even in the poorest places, and especially in the poorest places, it is pretty easy to go to a liquor store and pick up a pouch of shitty tobacco and some papers. Not in Pucallpa.