We arrived in Pucallpa at 3am that night. Everyone stayed on board because Pucallpa is quite dangerous at night. The stories are that the taxi drivers take you off to some deserted place, kill you for a few dollars, and dump your body in the lake. Who knows if there is any truth to these stories but after the pirate incident I decided to head that same day for terra tranquila: Huanuco.
Pucallpa is a crossroads city, flourishing as the necessary junction from the river to several roads. Dirt roads. It is hot, humid and the dust from the dirt roads is intolerable. Every city in Lima has a plaza, some of which are nicer than others. But I think that only Pucallpa has an open urinal in theirs.
David, Lucy, Jarden and I all left the boat together in the morning and went exploring. Jarden is a Pucalpeño and knew the territory. The four of us visited the tourist strip: a mosquito ridden lake, quite beautiful but with litter and abandoned boats everywhere. It was much as one might imagine a tourist strip in the deep Louisiana bayou.
We then proceeded to the market where we ate watermelon.
Lucy Pucallpa, which is bad because she and Jarden are stuck there until they earn enough money for onward tickets to their next destination: Lima. Jarden’s brother owns a car in Lima and Jarden could rent it from him to use as a taxi. As I mentioned before, Jarden and Lucy intend to travel the country together, visiting family. Before they both had reasonable jobs that paid the rent and put food on the table. Lucy worked in a restaurant and Jarden was a mototaxi driver by trade. They each earned about 10 soles ($3.30) a day in income, which paid the rent but left no savings. It is hard to imagine that I used to earn in one day what one of them made in over two and a half months (of working every day, of course). It is hard to comprehend the fact, it is impossible for me to understand why. Here in Pucallpa their family didn’t approve of their unmarried status and they felt more comfortable sleeping outside than they did with Jarden’s relatives. They estimate that, working hard and sleeping outside, they could save the money they need (about $25) in about three weeks.
I gave them my sleeping bag and $1.50 (capable of buying a day’s worth of food) and I caught the evening bus to Huanuco.