Today Iquiteños celebrate the 144th anniversary of the arrival of two steam ships that sailed from Lima. The navy ships made the treacherous voyage around the tip of South America, through the Straits of Magellan, up the east coast of South America to the entrance of the Amazon, and then up the 2,300 miles of the Amazon River to Iquitos, and begin construction of what would become the farthest international port from an ocean.
Iquitos already existed but January 5, 1864, is considered the beginning of its modern era. It has been an adventure destination ever since, with the rubber boom following the steam ships a few years later.
Ships could arrive from Europe and the United States in much less time, and more frequently than from Lima, creating an international culture, architecture, and population. When rubber became one of the most valuable commodities in the world the money steamed up the Amazon with the ships.
White Gold is an excellent non-fiction book written by a rubber tapper, who became indentured to a rubber baron to the point of near enslavement. The rubber tappers lived and died in extreme hardship for little or no money.
Fitzcarraldo is the movie made by Warner Hertzog and Walter Saxer based on the true life story of a rubber baron. Fitzcarraldo was produced in and around Iquitos. It is considered by many to be the most difficult movie ever made. Walter Saxer still lives in Iquitos in the Casa Fitzcarraldo.
If you are interested in the history of Iquitos the buildings owned and used by Fitzcarraldo, another 75 buildings that are historical landmarks from the Rubber boom era, three historically significant churches, and the museums are part of The Dawn on the Amazon Iquitos City Tour.
Today, Mayor Salomón Diaz urged everyone to “reevaluate our origins, and think about what we, as human beings, contribute to the development of Iquitos.” I am taking that urging seriously. I have been working on a plan for months that will “contribute to the development of Iquitos”. I will unveil my plan here in the Captains Blog over the next couple of weeks.
Please subscribe to my RSS feed and check back with me regularly to help me develop my ideas for making Iquitos a more attractive destination, as well as a better place to live. Thank you.