To speak about Loreto, the Amazon region of Peru is to speak about authentically indigenous and mestizo populations, about ancestrally inalienable territories, that is, about indigenous, rural, and urban cultures. Iquitos moves between the traditional and the modern; various places in Iquitos echo the history and world views of these indigenous peoples, interwoven within the different urban societies.
No roads lead to Iquitos. Situated in the middle of the Peruvian rainforest, on the Amazon, Nanay, and Itaya Rivers, the area is accessible to the outside world only by plane or boat. It is essentially an island, surrounded by jungle instead of the sea. From a distance, it’s easy to build fantasies about such a place — to meld tropical mythologies into a sensual utopia. Iquitos is where Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo dreamt of an opera paradise.
Its remoteness has fostered a unique culture. Europeans have been in the area since early Spanish colonial times, but the full weight of foreign influence and exploitation did not hit Iquitos until the rubber boom of the 19th century. As the city developed under the amoral eye of capitalism, indigenous traditions remained stronger, and Catholic customs weaker, than in much of Peru.
Today, Iquitos is the meeting point for opposing desires. There is the outsider’s desire for an isolated tropical paradise complete with beautiful ‘natives’. And there is the local’s desire for self-realization, free sexual expression, and connection with the world at large. (from “The Pink and Gold Jungle”)
ALLPAHUAYO-MISHANA NATIONAL RESERVE
The Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve is a protected area in Peru located southwest of Iquitos in the Loreto Region, Maynas Province. The Nanay River flows through the northern part of the reserve.
It was created in 1999 and covers an area of 142,272 acres. The Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve contains 500 varieties of trees per 2.5 acres, more than anywhere else on Earth, and nearly 100 unique plant species.
There are over 1,900 flora species; 475 bird species; 143 species of reptiles; 71 species of amphibians; more than 90 species of parasitic wasps; and more butterfly species than any other site in the world. More than 500 species of animals over 2.5 centimetres in length were found in a three-quarter hectare area of the Reserve.
The rainforest in the Reserve is composed of several soil types – ranging from rare white quartz sands to red clays – and each of these soil types supports a unique community of plants and animals. Three species of endangered primates are found within the reserve, and for two of them, the Yellow-handed Titi Monkey, and the Equatorial Saki Monkey, the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve is the only place in Peru where these monkeys and their habitat have been officially protected.
“Walking past the enormous lianas, stumbling over the impressive roots of 40-metre trees and hearing echoing calls of invisible animals ringing through the trees, we could feel the spirit of the jungle around us.
Stopping to rest and cool down in the many streams that are the veins holding the lifeblood of the jungle, we could see the water glistening red in the sun, coloured by the leaves floating slowly by us as we sat.
The sunsets that greeted our return to the lodge after a day of work offered yet another amazing sight, the colours of the land melting into one another as the fading light draped itself over the land. It is a fleeting moment but one that must be seen to be believed.
The nights offered something different still, a counterpoint to the brightness of the days where the noises and the movements of the nocturnal animals around us created an entirely new atmosphere in the jungle to be explored. “ALLPAHUAYO MISHANA BED & TREES
ZUNGAROCOCHA EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY
In the Peruvian Amazon, Formabiap has been a steady force for the advancement of intercultural bilingual education in a country where there are still many inequalities for indigenous peoples. Working hand in hand with indigenous organizations, communities and allies, Formabiap celebrates its 30 years training teachers from indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon.
Formabiap’s Educational Community Zungarococha (CEZ) is located between the road Quistococha-Corrientillo penetration and the shores of Lake Zungarococha, one of the arms of the Nanay River. Located 45 minutes from the city of Iquitos, it comprises an area of 19 hectares, 14 of which are covered by recovering forests, managed and cared for by workers and field technicians, teachers and students of different indigenous peoples.
In Zungarococha you can see the various bird species typical of the region, found in well-reforested forests of the educational community, a shelter that allows them to survive. In this way, you can observe the bocholocho or paucar (Psarocolius decumanus), to the victor diaz (Great Kiskadee), to the sui sui (blue-grey tanager), to the Shihuango (yellow-headed caracara) or Catalan or kingfisher (Ceryle torquatus), and some species of monkeys, among others.
Similarly, you can find the rich biodiversity of plant species, many of them recovered by teachers and the team responsible for the CEZ. Over 30 years, they have recovered a number of species that have disappeared almost entirely in other areas of the region. We can find timber and medicinal trees such as mahogany ( Swietenia macrophylla), cedar (Cedrela odorata), the screw (Cedrelinga catenaeformis), lupuna (Chorisia insignis HBK), grade blood (Croton lechleri), among other wood species. There are also different species of fruit such as macambo (Theobroma bicolour), Copoazu (Theobroma grandiflorum), aguaje (mauritia Flexuosa), grapefruit (Citrus paradasi), among others.
“We believe that through education we can generate change, but only with quality education, an education for indigenous peoples.”Never Tuesta, Coordinator of FORMABIAP