11.22.2019

725. Last Weeks in Toronto

leftbanked despacito Peru
Hello from Spain! We are currently in La Coruna as I make this post. In fact it's already the final day of our 2-week trip. We have a flight to London in a few hours then we will stay the night there. Tomorrow we go back to Toronto.
This trip was booked kind of last minute and it wasn't really planned. We spent a few days in Edinburgh first then came to La Coruna (my boyfriend's hometown) to visit his family and some other things he had to do here.

I'm pretty behind on my blog now. I will do the vacation posts once we get back to Toronto..but at least I managed to complete the main Peru posts before we left lol.

Here are the photos from the last couple weeks in Toronto before the trip.

Sapiens book leftbanked
Reading Sapiens, which I now finished! I really enjoyed the book.

DASHA Toronto
DASHA Toronto cocktails
A new Akira Back restaurant called DASHA. The cocktails were really good and nicely presented. The food was also delicious and tasted really authentic. However it is pricey for what it is, since Chinese food is generally really cheap at other places. For example the "har gow"/shrimp dumplings order was $14. At dim sum restaurants they are maybe ~$5.

DASHA Toronto
DASHA Toronto har gow
Ripleys Aquarium Toronto
We went to Ripley's Aquarium for their Halloween event called Dark Waters.

Ripleys Aquarium Toronto Halloween
Ripleys Aquarium Toronto
Ripleys Aquarium Toronto
Ripleys Aquarium Toronto
Toronto aquarium Halloween
Fall Foliage Evergreen Brickworks
When we left Toronto, this was what it looked like. Now I guess it is way colder and snowier..

Fall Foliage Evergreen Brickworks
It was my first time visiting the Evergreen Brick Works park and walking along the Belt Line..I really loved it!

Evergreen Brickworks Park
Don Valley Brick Works Park Autumn
Evergreen Brickworks Park
Don Valley Brick Works Park Fall Foliage

Now I must go and finish packing..

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11.07.2019

724. Peru Trip | Belen Market, Iquitos

Belen Market Iquitos
Belen is considered the poorest neighbourhood in Iquitos, and perhaps all of Peru. The residents there do not have clean water, proper sanitation or electricity. A lot of the residents previously lived in the Amazon rainforests, coming to Belen/Iquitos in search of employment or formal education. Visiting these types of places are always eye-opening experiences for me (I've previously visited similar in China and Russia) and they always make me appreciate the life I have so much more.

It's difficult to explain the type of atmosphere there. It felt very raw and exotic. Exactly what you'd expect a place in the Amazon to be like.

One of the "attractions" of Iquitos is Belen Market. I put it in quotations because I don't think a lot of tourists visit it. It was one of the places I was most excited to visit in our whole trip though. During our time there we only saw one other foreign tourist. Everyone else were locals, just going about their day shopping or selling things from fruits and vegetables to household items, Amazon medicinal ingredients and live animals. They sell anything and everything there.

It was one of the places I was most excited to visit in our whole trip. During our time there we only saw one other foreign tourist though. Everyone else were locals, just going about their day shopping or selling things from fruits and vegetables to Amazon medicinal ingredients, animal parts and live animals.

We hired a guide to bring us around here since it is considered a bit dangerous in terms of theft. We were told to take off all jewellery and put away our cameras. We were only allowed to take photos using our phones in certain parts and while the guide was watching closely. If I had a choice I would have taken photos of everything..the parts I was not allowed to photograph at were the most interesting lol. ****WARNING**** There are a couple slightly graphic images in this post of a cut up turtle.

We started off briefly visiting the residential area and taking a quick boat ride down to the market.

Iquitos
Belen Iquitos
Belen Iquitos
Belen Iquitos
Iquitos dog
Belen Iquitos
Belen floating houses
On the boat ride, we sailed along these homes built on stilts to adapt to high and low water seasons. When it's the wet season (roughly February to July), the water levels go all the way up to the second floor of the home. At that time, the family would be living on the second level only. The residents here were doing their laundry.

Belen Iquitos
Belen Iquitos
This is what an entrance to the homes look like. During wet season there would be a several feet of water underneath you.

Belen Iquitos
This is a barber shop

Belen floating houses
A school

Belen Church Iquitos
A church

Belen Market Iquitos
Bananas
I could be totally remembering wrong but I think each bunch (?) bushel (?) of bananas were something like 70 cents.

Belen Market Iquitos
Belen Market Iquitos
Belen Market Iquitos
Belen Market Iquitos
Belen Market turtle eggs
Turtle eggs

Belen Market turtle egg
Belen Market Iquitos turtles
Belen Market turtles
Belen Market Iquitos
Belen Market Iquitos
Belen Market Iquitos
Belen Market
I was so fascinated by everything and I wish we could have seen all parts of the market. Our guide didn't want to bring us to the darker and more sketchy areas for safety. I don't know if I would recommend a visit though because it's not a type of place everyone would enjoy seeing. I personally really enjoyed it though.

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11.05.2019

723. Peru Trip | Playing with Monkeys at Monkey Island!

Woolly Monkey
Monkey Island, aka La Isla de los Monos, is a new world monkeys sanctuary a few hours' boat journey from Iquitos. They rescue, rehabilitate and release monkeys that were victims of the pet trade. The monkeys live freely on the island and are super friendly with visitors, climbing on people and playing around. They are all babies. Once they get old enough, they must be released back into the wild (otherwise their natural instincts take over and they could start becoming aggressive and territorial). We were so excited for this part of the trip. I've never interacted with monkeys before. It was a really fun afternoon and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Iquitos.

Getting to the Island was quite an unconventional journey though. There are no boats that take you directly there and the Island itself doesn't arrange your transportation. There are also no scheduled boat departures..and also, the port of Iquitos is not very tourist-friendly (there's no signs or anything, and people don't speak English). You kind of have to figure everything out on your own. Everyone there were locals and walking down to the port on wooden planks was quite scary for me lol. Luckily we had a guide in Iquitos who took us to the boat. The rest of the journey we had to figure out ourselves. Fortunately my boyfriend speaks/is Spanish so that helped a lot. I would not have survived there on my own.

Here are the scenes from Iquitos port. I really loved it (even though I hated walking on the planks) - it felt like a really authentic experience and we were the only foreigners around.

Iquitos Peru
Iquitos Peru
Iquitos Peru
Iquitos Peru
Iquitos port

Then we went in a boat headed to "Varadero" port. One of these boats:

Varadero port Iquitos
This was Varadero port. We got out and was kind of confused what to do next.

Iquitos Varadero port
Oh & this was what we had to walk on lol. I was sooooo nervous.

Iquitos
We waited at Varadero port for quite a long time. We saw a lot of locals arriving and departing again on those boats, carrying all sorts of things with them. We were told that a boat from Monkey Island would come by to pick us up and bring us there. At first we didn't know that we were supposed to call the Island to ask for a pick up. Luckily another visitor knew and called them for us.

Monkey Island Iquitos
Finally it came and we were off!

Monkey Island Iquitos
We arrived!

Woolly Monkeys
baby monkey
Iquito Monkey Island
Monkey Island Iquitos
Monkey Island Iquitos
I really loved this Howler monkey. When we visited the Amazon, we heard their "howls" at times. I think it's the coolest sound in the Amazon but also very frightening.

Monkey Island Iquitos
This was my favourite one!

Monkey Island Iquitos
Most of them were these - Woolly monkeys

despacito Monkey Island
Scarlet Macaw
This Scarlet Macaw kept attacking my boyfriend's shoes. I think he sees other colourful things as competition and wants to fight them lol.

Iquitos boat
Heading back..we had to do the same route. Take a boat from the Island to Varadero, then from there head back to Iquitos.

Iquitos port

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