Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Amazon Animal Orphanage, a short boat ride from Iquitos, where founder Gudrun Sperrer gave us a personal tour. Pupating caterpillars just aren’t as photogenic as a sleepy sloth. The sad story is that there is even a need for this place, a place where Peruvian children finally learn that big blue butterflies don’t come from little blue butterflies; shockingly, the metamorphosis of butterflies isn’t taught in school so Sperrer hosts field trips.
Passengers are an afterthought on these life-lines to Iquitos and many small villages along the Amazon’s banks. You buy space, bring a hammock to hang crossways above the deck, vying politely for some personal space. The hammock is where you sleep, and sit during the day. We became very familiar with our hammocks over the 48, mas o menos, hours it took to Iquitos. We also met and “talked” to our close (very) neighbors and crew. One family was returning to Iquitos with a new baby, either four weeks old, or four months, we couldn’t discern,
It was quite a ride over the final ridge of the Andes, steep and increasingly verdant, filled with village roadside life. We knew the heat would come, and it has. We are resisting air conditioning, even though is is sometimes available, hoping to quickly adapt to the heat. We have kept the days short, trying to be done by early afternoon, when heat stress begins to take a heavy toll. The andes end abruptly at Tarapoto, Peru but are immediately replaced by the Andes foothills, steep and lovely.
In the village of Pongo, I ordered a common soup in Peru, Caldo de Gallina. Usually it is chicken noodle soup with a leg or thigh, sometimes an egg stirred in while cooking. Not this time. I got the real deal. I turned over the chicken back and found it filled with chicken innards. Now, I grew up on a farm, and we ate the heart, gizzard and liver of the chickens we slaughtered, but let the rest of it go to the hogs. After closer inspection I discovered a complete egg, shell and all, just ready to be laid. That was cool. I ate it,