I feel how the drop slowly trickles downwards, marking its path with a wet trace. From the hair-line, between the eyebrows, along the nose, it finally falls to the table. I sweat relentlessly and everywhere: under my armpits, on my chin, under the trousers glued to my body. Having stayed in the mountains for the last two months, I have forgotten about the heat that seems now to attack me with an unbearable force. 40000 strong, Yurimaguas' ransom is a red face, sticky skin and vain attempts to cool myself with my own hot breath. It is also the first town in Peru that I like.
Getting here was easier than I had expected. From the very beginning, since crossing the border with Ecuador, this place in the Amazon Basin was our goal: a place from which boats disembark for Iquitos, the world's biggest town that cannot be reached by land. The bus from Loja (Ecuador) consumed eight hours of our lives and took us to Piura (Peru), where we spent an evening at the cinema in a shopping mall near our hostal. From Piura, we spent three hours on a desert road to Chiclayo: a night in Chiclayo involved getting to know a bottle of Peruvian wine in our hostal room, while watching a Tim Burton movie on my laptop. We left Chiclayo in the evening hours of the next day, setting out on a theoretically fourteen-hour-long bus trip to Tarapoto. In reality, the ride lasted 16 hours and was interrupted at 4 a.m. by a change of busses: apparently, the more luxurious one broke down, so almost-at-dawn at a station who-knows-where, due to a lack of seats on the second bus, we left four passengers (including a mother with a child) behind. Not being able to find a pool table in Tarapoto, we decided to spend only one night there: using my laptop I introduced Bjarni to one of my favourite movies: The Mission. In Tarapoto, based on what we had read in Lonely Planet, we prepared ourselves for a six-hour, tiring journey through muddy roads to Yurimaguas and were pleasantly disappointed the next day, covering the distance on a normal, paved road in only three hours. Thus, after thirty hours on buses and three nights in different hostals in Peru we reached our goal: a small, sweltering town where mototaxi drivers recognize you on the streets, calling you by your name.
There is a pool table here, and a swimming pool in our hostal, and smiling, friendly inhabitants, and a good Chinese restaurant. A security guard in a bank confiscates my camera - to take pictures of his female collegues. A woman on the street shows us a little monkey tied to her bag and asks for a photograph. Marcelo wants to give us a free mototaxi ride to a shop, so we could buy a plastic bottle of home-brewed wine. In the store they treat us to the following: an alcoholic beverage made of cacao, a purple, thick grape wine, a condensed coffee liquor. Here, for the first time in South America, I encounter a police officer without a gun: a female officer, ordering Chinese food, is armed with nothing but a bottle-opener. The local market has everything: rice for 1.30 PEN per kilo, rubber sandals for 12 PEN per pair, Adidas' trainers, dried fish, piranhas, turtles, parrots, hammocks, pineapples, chicken thighs, jeans, socks, bras, beetroots, batteries, skins of wild cats. In the small port cargo boats are loaded with bananas, cows, mototaxis, passengers and their hammocks. On the streets one barely sees any cars, but mototaxis are everywhere.
The fourth day of our stay in Yurimaguas is slowly passing. Bjarni has a bit of a fever, signs of a cold - we are waiting until he gets better before we disappear for a few days into the jungle. Avoiding the sun, that never stops burning, we spend the days in our room. We kill time by watching TV, checking web pages during those few moments when the internet actually works, inventing names for children we don't have yet. The Amazon Basin's sun seems to affect the brain in quite an unexpected way, I think, sitting in the stuffy restaurant of our hostal. The air is heavy, nature plainly begging for a bit of rain. The fan, pointed especially at me, doesn't help at all: another drop of sweat lands on the table..