Iquitos: The Belan Market.

Twice I walked through the Belan Market. The first time was with Jorge and Giovanni. The second time was seven days later with a few comrades from the retreat in the jungle.

Only one of them had been to the Belan Market before this. So prepared the others for what to expect: a really bad smell, meat and other quickly perishable foods to be laying out... But lots of colors.

One of my favorite things were the collections of spices. All bundled up together in little bags. 

And containers of rice and other grains. So many textures. So many colors.

Speaking of colors... The produce was gorgeous and vibrant...

Peppers, garlic and "Amazon Lemons" (which are limes).

The thing that freaked me out, though, was the fresh meat lying out on tables...

I've no doubt that later that night, the steak I ate at the hotel came from here. And it was excellent. But it still was eery to see big slabs of meat lying out on a table in the middle of a very crowded, hot and smelly market..

Yes... The meat creeped me out more than this...

Marinating worms! They were being skewered up and placed on a grill. 

And one of the my favorite things was seeing all of the herbal medicines and bottled tinctures...

Jorge pointed out that one of these was "liquid Viagra." And there were plenty of "ayhuasca" bottles as well. (Though, again, I have no idea why you would take it without a Shaman present.)

There were also animal skulls and bones that you could buy...

The small skull towards the bottom was from a monkey!

And pure tobacco cigarettes! 

The most eery (not "freaky" but "eery") were the vultures.

They congregated near an open area of the marketplace. There were over 50 of them. And they were huge. They were just waiting for some piece of meat to become available for capture in their beaks.

Should you ever find yourself in Iquitos, the Belan Market is definitely worth a walk-through. The only thing I purchased was a necklace with a dried piece of ayahuasca on it. It's a "protection" necklace.

Though, maybe when I go back to Iquitos, perhaps I'll pick myself up one of those monkey skulls.