Tonight I headed for Poppy’s House (the orphanage) to check on our new visitors, Annalise and Mary Vaughn from North Carolina. Everything was going fine until I hit a road block on the main street.
There apparently was an accident and instead of directing traffic around the accident the rocket scientists decided to close the whole road which is the major traffic artery through Iquitos.
I headed down the detour and quickly realized that I was in my first Iquitos traffic jam, horns honking and taxi drivers yelling expletives in Spanish.
Normally it is an advantage to have a motorcycle in a traffic jam but not when everybody is on a motorcycle. The traffic was at a dead standstill, nowhere to go forward, nowhere to go back, so what should have been a 30 minute drive ended up taking almost an hour to get out to Santa Teresa.
I figured that the traffic would be cleared up on the way home since I had been out at Poppy’s House for about an hour. Not a chance. On the way back I hit the detour again coming from the other way. This time I was going to be really bright and not follow the rest of the traffic flow and avoid running into another traffic jam. Not my smartest move.
Within minutes I was in places in Iquitos no white man had seen in years; backstreets, potholes big enough to lose a city bus in and to top it all off there had been a major rain earlier in the day so the streets were really muddy. I felt like I was in a maze as I kept hitting dead ends, locals all around with shocked looks on their face that a gringo was driving through their neighborhood.
I slipped around one corner and ended up in a little alleyway. About the time that little voice was telling me to turn around I was on the crest of a hill that was all mud and full of ravines. It was too late, I was committed to going down the hill. It wasn’t until I reached the bottom of the hill that I realized I had just driven into a mud pit where the mud was almost a foot deep.
Everyone was stuck or slipping and sliding. The local kids were out helping push those who were dumb enough to end up on their street out of the mud. The only problem with driving a motorcycle through deep mud is that you have to put your feet down.
Two kids got on the back of my motorcycle and started pushing as I was wading through the mud with the bike spinning and shooting mud everywhere. I’m not quite sure how I got through the mud flats but eventually I found myself on dry ground and two kids with their hands out for a propino (tip).
I was happy to give them a couple of soles and be on my way with about five pounds of mud on my feet. An hour and a half later I made it back to the boulevard and civilization.
Ruth Update – I have continued to work on getting little Ruth into school. The other day her mother, Rita, got her birth certificate and barring anymore roadblocks I think we are finally poised to get here enrolled in school later this week. Next on the list is her little sister Maria.