Back in My Favorite Jungle Outpost

It’s been a year since I have been to my home away from home but I am back in Iquitos. The trip here is always tough because you get into Lima at 11am and the first plane for Iquitos leaves at 6am. By the time you clear customs and get your bags it doesn’t make sense to go to a hotel so I just hang out at the airport for 6 hours, not a lot to do in the Lima airport at 3am, so you end up staying up for over 24 hours except for any sleep you get on the plane.

It was good to get back and see old friends, this time a friend of mine, Brad, came with me. I think he is still going through a little culture shock, Iquitos takes a little time to get acclimated to heat, dust and exhaust from all the motos and motorcycles.

This morning I gave my first tour of the city, to Brad and a couple of brits. I love going down into the slums, it never ceases to amazing me how life goes on in complete filth, no running water, no toilets (other than the Itaya River). The sounds, smells (some good some not), kids laughing and the visuals gives you sensory overload.

Later this afternoon I took the merry crew out to Poppy’s House (the girl’s crisis center) run by People of Peru. I think all the guests loved the little girls. This is the first time I have been since they have moved the university girls in town. It really gave Poppy’s House a new feel, a bit more free in spirit. The little girls are precious.

There is a new girl there that I had heard about, terribly sexually abused by her grandfather and ignored by her father, she is 3 years old. I expected to see a little girl whose spirit had been crushed, withdrawn and scared of men. I couldn’t have been more wrong, this little girl immediately bonded with Brad and myself. Within minutes she was crawling all over both of us. God must have made this child with a special mold and even though her family story can make you lose faith in humanity her smile will restore your faith in God. I wonder if her youth has protected her from the evil bestowed upon her by her own family.

Tomorrow we head for Tamshiyacu, a small town about an hour up the Amazon and the last stop of the longest raft race in the world, the Great Amazon River Raft Race, before finishing in Iquitos on Sunday. It should be interesting, last year I saw them take off in Nauta but couldn’t stay for the finish. This year I will get to see the rafters after 2 days on the river. Then we will come back to Iquitos to check out the finish.