Monday, July 30, 2007

Back in chaos

I kept a diary in the jungle which I´ll condense and make palatable and post here once I have a little more time - probably after my arrival in Canada. Today I went to the Laguna Quistacocha, which is a zoo and botanical garden located just outside Iquitos. It put me in mind of Gerald Durrel´s zoo from my childhood in Jersey - eccentric enclosures over a large space, and filled with endangered species. And I finally got my big mammal fix, since there were precious few in the jungle, staying as we were so close to a hungry village full of people.

On the way back I realised how much better my spanish is, since I had a conversation with a mototaxi driver that I would previously have thought was a failure of comprehension on my part.

"Do you want a taxi?" He asked.

"How much to Plaza 28th July?" I replied.

"10 soles." (About 1 pound 40)

"That´s too much. I´m taking the bus."

"The bus is 1 soles."

"I know."

"I am 10 soles."

"I know."

"Take me. I am better than the bus."

"You are 10 soles. The bus is 1 soles."

"I am not the bus."

"I want the bus."

"The bus is 1 soles."

"That is why I am taking the bus"

"There are three of you. That is 1 soles each. I am 10 soles for all of you."

"Yes. But the bus is still only 3 soles for all of us."

"I am not the bus. I am 10 soles."

"I know. I am taking the bus. The bus is 1 soles."

"Do not take the bus. Take me. I am 10 soles for all of you."

"Thank you. No. Goodbye."

This is a very typical conversation over here. I would have been convinced that I was missing something and that there was a good reason why he was better than the bus or cheaper than the bus had my Spanish not improved. Of course he was more expensive and noisier than the bus - the things almost deafen passengers. Also I´m very glad I took the bus as it was an experience in itself. There were two drivers who kept swapping jobs with one another. When one of them was driving the other one was hanging out of the window buying fanta and sweeties for both of them. They consumed a vast amount of each. There is no glass in the windows and everyone shouts and jumps on and off as the bus is moving. Halfway through the journey, a politician got on the bus. He stood in the aisle and talked about his party policies. Then he produced with a great flourish from his jacket pocket a massive bag of sweeties. These were then offered for free to all the passengers. Brilliant. Graffiti and sweetie bribes. Peruvian politics never left the playground gang era.

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