We finally had a great day on the bike, from Boa Vista to Bom Fin on the border with Guyana. I’d always thought all of Amazonian Brazil was jungle, or rather cut down jungle, second growth, but the north is wet savannah, much like the Gulf Country of Queensland, Australia. We saw more birds in one day of 130 kilometers here than we have seen in the entire trip so far, all but one or two new to our “life list.” There were stops every 30 to 40 kilometers with roadhouses, also much like Australia but closer, where we got much needed cold drinks to add to our load of water. It is very hot and humid here just north of the Equator, and we were soaking wet most of the time. Our final stop was nearly an hour so we could cool down to a reasonable level before going on.
The Amazon River here is deep enough to accommodate ocean going ships, and they crowd the port along with the upriver barcos (many sizes and configurations) that we traveled on. We’re not exactly sure of the source of all this economic activity in the mid-Amazon, but it is no longer virgin rainforest; rather, it’s small farms and second growth timber. There is oil exploration, but it is not visible from the river
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,