Tuesday 24 November 2009


We arrived in Lagunas around 4am, welcomed by a light drizzle. People scrambled off the boat up the muddy bank of the river, about 2m high, carefully balancing their loads and weaving between the new passengers who scrambled down the same path, eager to get on board. Miraculously, no one ended up in the river.

We had been told there would be no electricity, but this turned out to be incorrect, there were dim street lights piercing the darkness, lighting up the muddy streets and rough, unpainted wooden houses with straw roofs. Lively music could be heard everywhere, emanating from homes, or bars, or nightclubs, we could not tell.

Later we found out that most inhabitants of Lagunas get up at around 4am to visit the market, have a stiff drink or three, and then leave town to work their fields. So, supposedly, we actually arrived at a relatively busy time. We also found out that they do switch off the electricity, but only during the day when everyone is out in the field anyway.

Maybe that is why there were only two mototaxis waiting at the docks, maybe the others were all busy ferrying locals... or maybe the drivers were all partying?

Whatever the reason, by the time we had gotten our bearings, both taxis had disappeared inland, not to return. They had both followed the same mud street, which seemed marginally more important than others we could see, due to having a paved sidewalk. So after waiting half an hour or so, we gathered up our stuff and started walking, trailing some other passengers, along the only strip of concrete in sight.

We walked, and we walked, and marvelled at how large the town was. It took us about half an hour and the escort of an elderly, booze scented local to find the guesthouse mentioned in our guidebook, Miraflores. It was very basic, but we didn't care, we just took the first room offered and curled up together on one of the tiny beds.

The next day we enjoyed a cold shower, eggs and instant coffee, and went out to explore. We found the large, barren central square, found the tiny market, chatted with the daughter of Klever (the most frequently mentioned tour operator) and chatted with one of their competitors, Rojas. We met Leo, the handsome dutch boy who had fallen in love with the town and bought some land. Leo introduced us to Esteban, the guide for Rojas who ended up taking us into the jungle. Esteban gave us a small hand-carved wooden paddle. We let little girls play with our camera and ate tasty chicken at the only eatery on the main square.

Overall, Lagunas was nice, cheap, friendly, and in the end, a bit dull. Ewelina quite liked it though, I guess she is less addicted to variety and electricity than I am.

Our biggest problem in Lagunas, was Ewelina's sudden popularity with local insects. We don't know if it was mosquitos or bed-bugs in the damp, saggy mattress in Miraflores, but each of her legs got bitten in dozens of places. At one point I stopped counting after 40, on just one leg.

Leo had assured us there was neither Dengue nor Malaria in Lagunas, so the attack didn't frighten us much, but it did put a damper on our enthusiasm once we reached the jungle, and was one of the reasons we ended up shortening our tour.

When we returned after 3 days of paddling around the reserve, we added a little fair on the main square, a juice bar, a beer bar and the shipping company offices at the port to our knowledge of the town. We bought a ticket to Iquitos (50 soles each) and spent hours and hours being bored and sleepy while waiting for our boat.

The Eduardo V was scheduled to arrive between 1 and 2am, the lady at the desk told us to be at the office by midnight in case it was early, and it finally arrived at 3am. We were not impressed, but we were happy to be on our way again.

And at least it was a bigger, nicer boat than the Eduardo VII.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. :) I hope you have calumine lotion or some such for all the bites.


The past!