Iquitos Church, Ancestors, Amazon River Boat

Sunday, October 7, 2007: It was hot all night.  Iquitos is hot all the time, but the night rain brought the temperature down a few degrees that allowed us to get some good sleep.  We woke up around 8:00 a.m. to get ready for church.  Jesse wasn't feeling too well....change in food, I suppose.

Here I am with my grandparents riding to church, Abuelito Nestor and Abuelita Leandra.  My grandparents church looked like a converted house but mostly every building in Iquitos had that same structure.  There was singing and preaching, but what I remember the most was that during the middle of the preaching my grandmother leans over to me and says (in Spanish), "It's going to rain soon."  I look outside and see that it's extremely sunny and lean over to my cousin, Janette, and told her what our grandmother said and Janette says, "Just wait." Within two minutes there was full on storm, I guess my grandmother could just "feel it" after living in the Amazon for her entire life.

After church and lunch we visited one of my mother's childhood friend, Luz and her husband.  They had a small pool in the middle of their house so we stayed there for a while.  It was quite refreshing.  Luz also had a small private school at her home so the front of her home looked like a classroom.

In the evening we went to church again, a much more livelier church with a lot more Latin praise.  On our way to church, I decided to catch a ride on Janette's motorcycle.  Jesse, my husband, rode in a motocarro with my Aunt Haydee to church.  At one point, Janette and I were riding around town in some side dark streets and I thought to myself, "I should be scared" but I got over it.  After an hour of very loud worship music we left with our ears hurting.

Entertainment at my grandparent's house was pretty much talking, watching the motocarros go by, watching the nightclub and mortuary down the street or trying to watch TV but even that felt too hot.  We talked a lot, to my grandparents, Janette, my grandparents caretaker, Manuela and to each other.  This evening I talked to my grandmother since I've never really talked to her before.  I asked to to tell me everything she could about our heritage, where we came from, etc.  Apparently, my great-grandfather, Remegio was originally from Cuzco and escaped from being enlisted in the Spanish Army and traveled through the Cuzco jungle to he Amazon Basin (Loreto area) where he met my great-grandmother.  I guess the adventure bug runs deep through my veins.  My grandfather's parents are from deep in the Amazon, from Tierra Blanca near the Ucayali River.

Monday, October 8, 2007: We woke up early in the morning, probably because the temperature started to rise.  After breakfast, we rode the motocarro to the wharf, Amazon River wharf that is.  My aunt Haydee was taking a boat 12 hours down the river to her job, a teaching position in a small town that could only be reached by the river.

That is a typical river boat that local people use, not the luxury boats that are portrayed in the Amazonian Adventure Tourist companies, huh?  The wharf was packed full of craziness, people trying to rob us, people selling all sorts of things including giant bunches of plantains.  The river level was extremely low and the wharf was full of garbage.  Coming from California and a nature lover that really made me sad that the river banks were full of garbage.  My aunts boat was full of people with their hammocks ready to go.  My husband wanted to try one as you can see.

My aunt was traveling to San Ysidro but what I remember the most was the bags and bags of extra clothes she took.  She could barter these clothes for food or other household necessities.  Apparently cash was useless in a small town like San Ysidro because they had no banks.  My aunt explained to me that she had to go out deep in the jungle to get a teaching position because the older someone gets, especially for women, the harder it is to get a job.  I guess there weren't any consequences for ageism and sexism in Amazon.  We said our goodbyes  and left the wharf and walked long the river, stopping and to look out over the gigantic river and surrounding greenery.

When the river is full, all of the greenery is underwater and the water comes right up to the river walk.

My husband Jesse and I near the wharf with the floating houses.