San Francisco & Yarapa River
The first time I arrived in the Amazon I was surprised to find several villages along the rivers; it did not matter how far we had gone into the forest. I have learned by now that the notion we often have of an empty area is a myth; Pacaya-Samiria is not packed with people, but neither is it empty, and it is always interesting to learn about the traditions and costumes of societies who have prospered in this environment.
This is people of diverse heritage. When Europeans colonized Amazonia, they bred with Amerindians and their descendants became the ones who today make their living by farming and fishing the floodplains. They are called ribereños; they don’t only rely on subsistence but also make use of market economy, selling their fish and crops.
Many times we encounter floating “corrals” where they keep fish alive until they can be taken to Iquitos, during a several-day ride along the rivers. We see how they accumulate their products in bags, along the riverbanks, waiting for the “taxi boats” (peque-peques) to send them to other villages. Everything goes by the river; these are the “roads” of the forest.
At San Francisco village we have an inside view into the life of ribereños, what their children dream of, what their teachers want for their future.
We combined the visit to San Francisco with a skiff ride or a walk through a flood-forest. Both successful in amount of wildlife, but also as holistic experiences, as that’s what Amazonia is all about, an involvement in mind, soul, and body with its entirety.
Later, after learning to prepare our pisco sours, we entered the enormous river, the Amazon. But we did not want to be far from the riverbanks, where everything goes on, and the Amazon was just getting wider and wider.
So we turned to the Ucayali, that farther up is the Apurimac, and much farther up is the very beginning of the largest river in the world, a water sheet running from a wall rock of the Mismi Volcano, 18,362-foot high.
At the intersection with the Yarapa River we boarded skiffs and kayaks and set off to enjoy the forest. We encountered two lovely primates: a night monkey and a pigmy marmoset. Any new species of bird? Scarlet Macaws!