...went well. We started out shyly walking down a street known for the Portuguese tiles that were imported to beautify the rubber barons mansions back at the turn of the century before a British guy smuggled some rubber tree seeds back to create plantations on the Malay peninsula, but then the discovery of oil boomed this town again. We continued on toward the ´Venice´of Peru, which we found out only seasonally floats and is not presently floating because the rains are just starting. Apparently in March the river rises about 10 ft and people travel from place to place in canoes. As we walked through the market, we saw many odd sights: everything is sold in tiny inflated plastic bags, spices, oil, soup, eggs, we saw live giant grubs getting skewered and thrown on the bbq still squirming (john says he would still be interested in eating them), fresh turtle meat with their adorable little legs still attached, ladies rolling tobacco into cigarettes, and many many mangy dogs. Some cats. A few live chicken, many dead ones.
In addition to the sights and smells, the sound of the mototaxis really defines the character of this jungle metropolis. Apparently there are 20,000 mototaxis in this town of 400,000 and they never stop thrumbling! We went to the one museum in town and saw plaster castings of individuals from the various indigenous tribes around Peru, Venezuela and Brazil in what used to be the governor´s mansion. Then the museum guide ditched the museum to take us on a tour of the city, complete with canoe ride on the Amazon to check out a neighborhood of floating houses and a game of volleyball and also giant lily pads in somebody´s backyard.
Tomorrow we leave for the jungle with a guide from our hostel. Apparently we are going to stay in a lodge one night, possibly camp out in the rainforest the next, go fishing for piranhas, swim, hike in search of monkeys and sloths and keep our eyes peeled for the elusive pink and grey amazonian dolphins and giant amazonian otter.
We are about to go eat our first Peruvian Chinese food, called The Chifa. All in all, so far so good.