Escape from the Jungle

Getting out of Iquitos and the Amazon jungle turned out to be much harder than I anticipated, because of the UTTER CRAPNESS of Peru’s state airline TANS Peru.

Yesterday started pretty well overall: I woke up in the luxury hotel room, showered, had breakfast, and took a motorkar to Belen Market very briefly for a bit of speed-tourism. The motorkar had a picture of Che Guevara on it, and the young driver, Michel, offered to give me a quick guided tour of the market and port area, made up of houses on stilts — it is flooded during the rainy season, and is known as the “Venice of the Peruvian jungle.” Apparently Werner Hertzog filmed the movie Fitzcarraldo there. After a 10 minute walk, we jumped back into the motorkar, stopped to pick up my laundry, and dropped me off back at the hotel. I checked out and took a taxi to the airport, arriving there about 11:15am.

At this point things started to go wrong again; the TANS Peru flight that was supposed to leave around 1pm was going to be late arriving, and they didn’t even know when it was going to arrive. They told me maybe 3pm, and to come back later for more information.

At this point I could have gone back into town, but I decided to camp out in a little cafe with a soft drink and read my Spanish textbook for a bit. Hours passed. More hours passed. Each time I went back for more information, I was told to come back later.

The chairs in the airport were incredibly uncomfortable, and after getting fed up trying to learn Spanish, I killed time listening to my Minidisc, reading “100 Years of Solitude” (an English edition purchased at great expense at Bogota airport) and having fantasies about forcing the chair’s designer to sit for a similarly prolonged period in one of his own creations. Eventually it cooled down a little outside the terminal building, and I sat at a wooden bench in front of a little snack hut at the far end of the airfield, reading and drinking Inka Kola (basically cream of soda with added caffeine and yellow colouring — it’s good!).

The plane didn’t arrive until 6:30pm, and left 20 minutes later — luckily I was on it, but there was almost a riot at the airport because it was supposed to stop somewhere else en route to Lima, but didn’t. TANS Peru is without doubt the worst airline I have ever flown with.

Anyway, I eventually made it back to Lima, was picked up at the airport and taken back to the Hostal Pukara, where Peter rearranged the remiander of my itinerary. Right now I’m at the airport in Lima, about to catch a plane to Arequipo.

I also had my first bit of “traveller’s tummy” yesterday morning, which was a little strange because all I’d eaten in the previous 12 hours was some very inoccuous-looking frozen pizza. I have some antibiotics, but it’s really not too bad at all and I’d rather not take the medicine, so am gonna try fasting for 24 hours first.

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