P1020336This mural was painted on the wall of the local Yurimaguas TV station. Depicted is local sentiment of the exploitation that has been and is taking place. Enlarge the view if you can.

Yurimaguas is a town that connects the major navigable tributaries of the upper Peruvian Amazon region with the road network of Peru. The port of Yurimaguas is situated on the banks of the Rio Huallaga. The Huallaga unites with the Maranon as it flows toward Lagunas and Nauta and several smaller riverine pueblitos. All of the tributaries in this region eventually become the mighty Amazon river. To locals, the Amazon river does not take that name until the Rio Ucayali joins with the Maranon.

The port of Yurimaguas is only slightly different than that of Nauta… despite the fact that Yurimaguas has 6 or 7 times the population. Access to road routes that lead to Tarapoto and beyond account for this. It is much easier to expand a population where roads exist… easier to buy land… cut the land into smaller portions… etc. etc. The history of so called ‘development’.

P1020361A riverside joint that specializes in various concoctions. The stuff in the bottles contains different kinds of wood bark or herbs that are steeped in a locally made cane moonshine called aguardiente. The barista knows which stuff is reputed to be good for specific ailments. FDA approval  not required here.

Key to development (expansion of population) is infrastructure. A road is seen as the  key component to infrastructure. Next is access to electricity…  easier to plant a pole along roadsides than it is along miles and miles of riversides.P1020376This is the riverfront area where the commercial products come to market. There is a different riverfront where the passenger transports tie up.

Many riverside pueblitos have limited access to electricity. They usually have a town generator. Electricity is not a 24/7 proposition.  Internet, television and telephone access are now possible in these remote river communities thanks to wireless transmission and satellites.  These modern communication tools are therefore, still relatively new to these riverside communities.  It does not take long for people to adapt, but not long ago, the entertainment for the evening would be listening to a human telling stories or looking at the stars.

Is it ‘progress’?  It depends upon how a person cares to define the meaning of the word. Is it ‘better’ or is it an ‘improvement’ for people who experienced an intimate relationship with their surrounding Natural environment to now be exposed to ‘news reports’ and images of other humans killing each other in Syria… half a world away?  How does that ‘improve’ their lives?  The access to electronic media brings with it the propaganda, designed to inculcate a world view or to steer public opinion, that were unknown a generation ago. Is it a good thing for a person to be exposed to commercial images that are intended to make the viewer ‘desire’ a product or service that once was unknown?


3 foot tall heavy duty bags filled to the brim with locally produced varieties of beans, lentils, peas, corn, and rice. This is one of several examples that exist there

People are very friendly in Yuri.  Only saw 3 other ‘gringos’ for the five days I was in Yuri… not on the radar of many ‘Western’ tourists.  Because Yurimaguas is connected to the rest of Peru by road, the markets have a greater of a variety of consumer goods. The latest is flat screen TV’s are to be seen in shops and in the markets where smaller ones are playing movies on dvd’s that local entrepreneurs sell.

P1020355Six 55 gallon barrels filled with different varities of locally grown olives in front of a storefront in the market area

Yurimaguas, having a larger population than Nauta… has a livlier feel to it. The markets were bustling with activity every day I was there.  Excellent example of what a free market economy can look like. Ten or so streets surrounding the central municipal market are filled elbow to elbow with hundreds of vendors selling local produce of all sorts as well as  Peruvian made and imported electronics, clothing, and  consumer items.

An astonishing variety of fresh locally grown and produced food. 55 gallon barrels filled with 5 or more varieties of olives are seen.  Live chickens in baskets that look like large wicker fish traps are offered. I saw dozens of different varieties of local dried beans in bags at some stalls. Huge papayas.  Plantains, bananas, mangoes, avacados, coconuts, carambolas (star fruit), pineapples, apples, 3 varieties of grapes, peaches, potatoes, yucca, spinach, leaf lettuce (did not see and head lettuce), all kinds of spices… all arranged in different ways.

P1020366My morning coffee shop while in Yuri. Here, a lady making a huge pot of hand whipped meringue. People eat it by the bowlful. She also makes a  ‘coyboy coffee’… no fancy filters needed… just dump ground coffee in a huge 5 gallon pot filled with waterand ladle off the liquid from the top. Some people have a big cup or bowl of coffee and scoops of the meringue on top.

In the main mercado area…. butchered poultry products, not a lot of beef, but a few stalls displayed some. Scores of stalls selling freshly caught varieties of river fish.

All in all a veritable feast for your eyes and senses. All locally produced. Very little contamination in any of it because there is no heavy industry around and the petro production is mostly downriver and they make a very real effort to avoid spills/accidents in these parts. Nearly all the Peruvians I have spoken to seem to have a very deep awareness and pride in their Natural heritage.