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G Adventures - Amazon Cruise on the Queen Violeta

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Markets and Motokar Ride in Nauta
Bananas at the Nauta market on the Amazon River

These bananas at the Nauta riverfront market were right off the boat!

Amazon River Cruise Tour (c) Linda Garrison
As was now usual, we had an early day in Nauta, a town of about 20,000 residents that is on the Marañón River near the confluence of the Marañón and Ucayali Rivers that form the Amazon River in Peru. Nauta, which is a tribal word for clay pot, is about 100 miles via water upstream from Iquitos. The town was founded in 1830, and is an "oil town". Although Nauta is 200 miles downstream from the oil fields, workers are transported to the fields from there, where they work 21-day shifts. Nauta is also growing because it has a 65-mile long road to Iquitos, which was completed in 2004.

We left the Queen Violeta at 6:30 am and rode the short distance to the town on the skiff. As always, the ship was tied up during the dark hours since traveling on the river can be dangerous due to floating logs and debris. Since the river was down, we had a fairly rough climb up the bank to the market. The market was already bustling, and it was fun to see all the fresh fruits, foods, and other goods for sale. Three huge stalks of bananas could be purchased for 10 sols (less than $5), and one huge stalk of plantains sells for only 20 sols (less than $10). Quite a difference from home. Was surprised to find that a watermelon sold for 5 sols--not much different than in Georgia. The market also had clothing, a barber, cooked food, and goods like a "Little Mermaid" tote bag. Although it was only about 7 am, the market looked like it had been open for hours, but evidently people go home when it starts to get hot.

Our little group then walked to the town square (Plaza de Armas), which was flanked by the Catholic Church and school. At the square we boarded a 3-wheeled motokar (half motor bike and half car seat) to ride to a large pond on the edge of town. As we had seen in Iquitos on the first day of our adventure, these motokars came into the area in the 1980's and have multiplied rapidly. We had two people per motokar plus the driver, and the ride was quite fun, if a little harrowing at times. When we got to the large pond, we were delighted to find that it was filled with the large turtles we had only seen from afar, plus had some caimans, and many paiche, the Amazon's largest fish, which can reach 400 pounds. We've eaten the paiche a few times, and it's very good. Victor even brought along a little stale bread for us to feed to the turtles and fish.

We've seen locals selling handicrafts almost everywhere we've been, including at the pond. This part of Peru has very few tourists, but these vendors seem to be everywhere. Most of us spent what little sols we had early on the trip since we didn't know we would have purchasing opportunities almost every day. One couple has two, 100-sol notes, but they can't find enough to buy at one place to spend them, and none of the locals have much change. We have been told to not just give them money since it's important that they not connect tourism with money they haven't earned. Good point!

We reboarded the eight motokars, had a quick motokar tour of Nauta, and then got dropped off where we had left the skiff. We were back on the ship by 8:30. Amazing what you can do in a couple of hours!

G Adventures' Amazon Adventure Cruise Tour

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