A Cautionary Tale From Iquitos

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Adrian Walker, “The Snake Whisperer”

I wrote once that the road to Iquitos was a long and winding one but it seems the road to a lodge is an even more serpentine journey.

After 7 weeks in the city, several offers rejected, a lease or two declined following initial agreement and countless others dismissed without so much as setting foot in them, either because of price or location, I remain lodgeless.

A promising location is found and accordingly a journey to inspect is arranged hastily with 2 local guides jockeying for my money which leads to the one who claims to be an excellent builder chosen as this is a block of land with some structures in place. This choice is an error of the highest degree as the guide turns into a rogue.

The trip has been meticulously planned and should take no more than 6 hours involving both a Motokar and boat. Simple enough but the Motorkar driver and guide appear to have conspired to separate a gringo from his bottomless pit of wealth. We are taken to the arranged boat drop off point when the guide announces that for a small extra fee we can travel to a point nearer our final destination, thus reducing both fees and time. I agree readily to this apparently reasonable suggestion, only to be met with an absurd demand for money by a peque peque owner at the road’s end. Negotiations are fruitless as his lowest price remains ridiculously high. I decide on a prompt return to Iquitos and at this the guide seduces me yet again with promises of reaching my destination via a 40 minute stroll the jungle. I entertain doubts but allow his local knowledge to cloud my better judgement.  The 40 minutes is revised to 5 hours upon arrival by people who actually know the distance involved and so for the second time a return to Iquitos is called for. Seemingly devoid of further ruses, this is adhered to but upon reaching home base the motokarro driver fails to provide the correct change to the 100 sole note I offer him for the 20 I believe is owed. The guide naturally takes sides with his devious mate and my reaction is to refuse point blank a payment of further extortion to the guide but arrange for a meeting in the evening where I ensure numerous gringos who have been versed in the tale to greet his demand. He scurries off when the Tourist Police are mentioned and one trusts pays his driver mate a visit to split the profits of their greed.

Iquitos continues to throw sand in your eyes but I choose to ignore the episode, continue with my quest and quietly move forward with patience and care. Tis a long lane that has no dustbin remains my motto in this search for an ecolodge.

A Cautionary Tale From Iquitos

Guest post by Adrian Walker the author of Diary of a Snake Whisperer, Birds of Mission Beach, and several books of fiction.

Hi, this is Bill Grimes reporting from Iquitos Peru. Welcome back for more of the story. Adrian Walker and his family are living in one of my apartments and learning about how business is done in Iquitos, while considering their options to purchase or rent, or build a lodge. Adrian was kind enough to write this series of articles for my Captain’s Blog and the Iquitos Times. We hope this is Chapter nine of his new book, The Road to Iquitos. Click the links below to read chapters 1 – 8. Thank you.

Road To Iquitos;

Road To Iquitos, Part 2;

Road To Iquitos, Part 3;

Road To Iquitos, Part 4, Ups And Downs In Iquitos;

Bird Watching From Dawn on the Amazon;

Bedbugs And Their Ilk In Iquitos;

King Of The Boulevard, Iquitos Peru;

Iquitos, An Urban Ecology;

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Volkmann July 31, 2012 at 8:44 am

I look forward to and enjoy reading your post. Thank you for taking the time to write these for us to read. It just makes us more home sick everyday. I have to say I have never heard of anyone trying to pay a 20 sol taxi bill with a 100 sol note in Iquitos. To even carry a 100 sole note is unheard of. Does anyone else agree with me?

2 Adrian Walker July 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Thanks for that tip Dave and also the complement. As for the 100 note, the banks don’t give you much choice when you visit an ATM to withdraw from a foreign account as I have to. Maybe I could annoy Bill and change all my 100’s at the cafe? Sadly I don’t have enough of them at the moment!

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