Did you know that Iquitos is the biggest city in the world with no roads running outward to connect it to the rest of world? Enshrouding it is the thick, dense, and diverse Amazon jungle. The city is surrounded by it everywhere.
To know that all around you, past the borders of the city and its lights is the biggest jungle in the world is actually a little scary. The only way in and out is by air or by sea. No traversing the land.
The people that lived in this area many years ago would have had this view that the whole world was one big jungle. That out there, past the frontier of their village is a never-ending expanse of jungle and river, green and brown. Their world would have been something very different than for example seeing the whole of Europe on a map, with its mountains and oceans and forests and hills.
To a small child in one of the villages, perhaps the world would have been a mystery, just a thought that beyond the jungle there might be something else.
I love putting myself in the shoes of the ancient inhabitants of the land that I stand on. If I had been told that the jungle goes on forever, which it kind of does, I might have thought about the questions, “what if you kept going? Would you find anything else?”
And then I can leap forward in time to the period of the Spanish Conquistadors, cutting their way through the jungle and sailing their rafts down the rivers. They probably thought about the same question, about “when would it end?” but also “what if you kept going?”
And for me, even today, the expanse of the jungle around Iquitos is a daunting but curious thing. Just jungle, and jungle, and more jungle upon the land. It goes outward, to Colombia and Brazil, so far that I can’t imagine having to walk through it. And once upon a time, the jungle was much bigger because there wasn’t so much deforestation happening back then. It just makes Iquitos seem so small.
And soon, we will head out into that jungle, so far away from any city lights, any place of great civilization, out into the great and ever so vast Amazon rainforest.