The Ayapua and Iquitos museum (24April2015)

The AyapuaThe Ayapua was one of the boats that plied the waters of the Amazon region for the purpose of carrying the men who were known as the ‘rubber barons’. These men enslaved and abused native populations for the purpose of getting the natural rubber from the forests of the Amazon region.

The rubber tree; Hevea brasiliensis, is native to the Amazon rainforest and at the time of the rubber barons was the only place it grew. Later, many saplings and seeds were exported to other tropical regions around the planet to create plantations of this useful plant.

If you ever saw the film: Fitzcarraldo, then you have seen a vessel like the Ayapua. (Fitzcarraldo was produced and directed by Werner Herzog;  featuring the actor, Klaus Kinsky , who many people that interacted with him thought to be  stark raving mad/insane, but who Herzog was able to control somewhat for some incredibly powerful emotional footage)

Henry Ford visited this area during the years of the Iquitos rubber boom and saw the treatment of the native populations. His cars would run on rubber tires… at the expense of cruel and inhuman treatment of innocent forest dwelling peoples.

Roger Casement, an Irish born (once knighted, but stripped of his title… perhaps for bringing uncomfortable issues to light) was one man who did what he could to ring the alarm to the world of the abuses going on near Iquitos.  He championed for the rights of oppressed people in many other places who had not the means to defend themselves nor the experience nor knowledge to even vaguely comprehend their oppressors.  Roger Casement, though not widely known or recognized has been known to some as:  the “Father of twentieth-century human rights investigations”.

Video tour of the Ayapua:


Later, I hired a mototaxi  to take me to the Iquitos museum.

The entrance to the Iquitos MuseumAbove: The entrance to the Iquitos museum

P1170205 P1170206 P1170207The three photos above are an exterior wall on the inside of the courtyard at the entrance to the museum. The walls were draped with a heavy duty geotextile fabric and and pockets were  formed in the fabric. As you can see, the results are a living wall surface composed of many varieties of local plants.  Because it rains frequently in these parts and the sun is seen shining brightly at least part of every day… there is little maintenance needed.

Manguare, early telephone of the jungleAbove: Manguare… handcarved wooden jungle drums

See paragraph three of the story in the following link:

For you scholarly types, here is a link that describes the meanings (to some) of the drumming patterns:

Suffice to say that the manguare drum was a device created for the purpose of communicating in the forested Amazon rainforest. The sound created resonates for a few miles, even in densely forested areas.

A YouTube video of a large Manguare:

Comparison of Earth's riversAbove: A comparison chart of Earth’s rivers

The expansion of IquitosAbove: A graphic chart showing the expansion of Iquitos

…and so Life forms continue their ongoing cycles, in the Amazon rainforest. Iquitos is an excellent example of how modern technology impacts Life of all kinds aboard our tiny (once deemed vast) planet. The balance of existence, the give and take, the tension and compression, of symbiosis is expressed in this city.  It is a microcosm,  petri dish.  As humans expand their dominance over the environment, other creatures lose their habitat.  Barely 100 years ago,  vast virgin forests were home to unknown thousands of species of plant and animal.  The humans that were there then, saw themselves as part of the rainforest itself. They did not see themselves as the ‘ruling class’ of forest dwellers.

Now, a ‘poor’ man (it’s all in the definition) can buy a chainsaw and gasoline and cut five hundred year old trees… so he can buy more things that he and his family now know exist, which were once unknown and therefore not desired.

Now, people whose parents remember wearing only bark or grass clothing go to ‘nationalized’ schools and have cell phones and play video games and surf the internet and learn all about what seems to them, a ‘glamorous’, ‘better’ existence.  And they learn to ‘want’ all the new things for themselves, and they devalue the life of their mother’ and father’s.  And they set up lives in the more ‘civilized’ environs and they buy and sell the things that constitute the symbiotic, interconnectedness of Life and without intentionally doing so, they participate in what may be the destabilization of the ability of Life itself to be sustained aboard our tiny, once balanced, spaceship… hurtling around a minor star… in a galaxy… far, far, away from any other like it.

But, there is hope that people will recognize these things and there are signs of that. Pilpintuwasi butterfly farm and the manatee refuge and animal rescue center, and the Fundo Pedrito paiche farm, and the handful of jungle retreats where foreigners come and sample this fragile cradle of Life.