Ari’s Burger: Vignettes of Iquitos
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This is the first of a three-part account of a visit to Iquitos at the time of the New Millennium by the narrator, who lives in Colombia, has been drinking yajé (ayahuasca) with its indigenous shamans and for a book he is writing about the subject, decides to investigate the rituals in Peru. It is in the form of a travelogue divided into vignettes: his voyage upriver from Leticia to Iquitos, his impressions of a city which revolves around eco-tourism and his encounter with his host, Zappa, an American expatriate who exports shamanic plants and runs ayahuasca ceremonies but lacks the due rigor and respect for indigenous traditions, the narrator believes, who measures what Zappa does against the relatively unspoiled source of Native-American healing he experienced in the Putumayo. Despite Iquitos´s lack of authenticity, he is charmed by its local color, friendliness and reminiscences of the age of the rubber boom, but does not ignore the poverty, provincialism and backwardness of a big city which, like any other in the Amazon, is losing its original environment and indigenous customs, nor the absurd division of what he regards as a single nation of the Amazon into three countries which equally exploit its jungles. But he makes those points in a humorous rather than propagandistic way as he ruefully relates his hassles at the border control, sights of a useless military presence and other “folkloric” incidents.
- Mundo Amazonico