Peru Day 12: A big earthquake, then to the Amazon
I had my alarm set for 6:00 this morning... but... had a bit of an unexpected "natural alarm clock" instead... about an hour earlier than we were going to get up, at 5:00am, the silar stone walls of our hostel started shaking... EARTHQUAKE!!!!!!!!
My initial thought was it was a 3.something or 4.something at worst, but it was shaking fairly hard and for longer than usual. It turns out it was a 6.2 earthquake (biggest one I've been in), centered in Northern Chile. It was first reported as a 5.9 near Tacna, Peru.
Now, we were not exactly in a Bay Area-style building, built for earthquake safety on rollers or something like that, we were in a hostel made out of silar stone, with very tall ceilings (i.e., long way for large stone pieces to fall?!) Jeez. Anyway, I had actually just read yesterday that Arequipa is very used to having quakes as a city, and these silar homes actually are built to handle earthquakes quite well. That said, after the shaking woke Kev and I up and had been going for 10+ seconds, we lept out of bed and crouched beside/under the beds. It shook for 30 sec or so, it was quite a long one.
I got some practice for the first time of "first on the scene" action via Twitter, this seems to be one of the ideal uses of that technology. I posted about the quake and there didn't seem to be much else about it. Confirmation came later by USGS about 30 min later. I posted a bit and got a few responses, there was literally no chance I was gonna go back to sleep after that. Even though the quake was over 400km away, we still felt it since it was such a big one.
|My tweets from that morning|
We got up at 6 (as originally planned!) and the taxi to the airport was fast. The driver was great, and he talked about the earthquake (a "tremblor"). We also saw El Misti mountain, and he told us it's 5000 or 6000 m at the peak, and you can drive up to 3000 and walk the rest. There were lots of strong winds which cleared the mist/fog, making it quite clear.
|Leaving El Misti behind, we head to Iquitos|
I sliced up the guanabana to eat with my "Lago" sub and it was good. It was pretty weird though, kinda like a guava, but not as flavoursome, same texture though. That was fun. We then flew to Iquitos, and the Amazon river eventually came into view as we got close, like a snake meandering along the surface.
|The usual in-flight snack from LAN, Ritz crackers, some chocolate wafers and a chocolatey truffle thing|
|Toucan gummis on the way to the Amazon. Also, weird localized Lay's chips|
|Arriving in the Rainforesty glory of Iquitos|
Everyone else piled into a cab and Alicia and I drew the short straws to take one of these weird and crazy Mototaxi things into town. It was kindof like those Tuktuks you see on any Thailand travel documentary. It was pretty crazy, no seat belts (of course not!) and not even any real sides or roof or front to these things. The smell of gas was somewhat apparent, and the "trunk" was a small bouncy platform on the rear of the motorbike trailer that would definitely bounce your luggage away onto the street upon hitting one of the many available potholes or bumps in the road. Yet, this was awesome.
|Out of the airport in a Mototaxi|
|Not 5 min out, it broke down (a common occurrence)|
|Me and Alicia, holding on tight. These Mototaxis drive like crazy!|
|This cat was awesome|
We wandered, saw a cool Rubber Baron house (one of the places we were gonna stay in), and ended up at a Pizza place called Maggy's for dinner. I think this was the same place as in Cusco that we wanted to try but was closed. It was super awesome. We got Pizza Fruitas (again), and it was fantastic. Even more amazing was the Jugo Camu-Camu!!!! This juice of the "Camu Camu" fruit was truly epic - SO good. Like a cherry/pink lemonade/watermelon combo. This fruit friggin' rocks, and I was so psyched to try all these weird kinds of Amazonian fruits that you can never find anywhere else.
|Camu Camu juice, completely amazing|
|Wandering the downtown Iquitos plaza at night|
|Floating hostel at night|
Note to anyone going to this area of Peru: the bug net is NECESSARY!!!!!!!!!!! This was an extra $20 or so at REI that we spent before leaving, and man was it worth it. There were any number of gross creepy-crawlies in the hostel, spiders and other bugs and stuff, and the bug net was an epic shielf against them, and mosquitos, and any other gross stuff trying to come and possibly bite you, or at least land on you. After a bunch of fiddling to get the bug net correctly setup (you shouldn't be directly touching the edges of it), it worked super well and also gave me confidence to sleep soundly in just my boxers. It was so darn hot there was no way I could wear real pyjamas or anything, but I didn't want any mosquito bites, so this thing was epic. Poor Jess didn't get her bug net really sorted out properly, so she slept with a jacket on her instead, hoping not to get any run-ins with the general wildlife in the rooms.
Oy. What an adventure. And into the Amazon we go...