Village life - After talking about the routine on the ship and mentioning the villages it seemed like a good idea to show some pictures of the villages.
Villages inevitably range in size and each has it’s own character. The closer you are to Iquitos the larger the village, much like in any country, the closer you are to a bigger town the larger the villages tend to be.
Access to the villages is by river only. There is usually some sort of canoe for basic transport, the speed boat and bigger barges. Steps are cut into the embankments for access; these can be recut after the floods. Much easier to replace than wooden steps. There are streets, some concrete and some well-trodden mud. Usually a communal sports area - as mentioned before, sport is part of most days, at least for the children. Mostly, now, there is electricity for light. I’m not sure but think the supply is from solar power of some sort. As far as we could see, cooking is done over open fires.
Houses in the remote and the poor areas were made of wood or wiggly tin (corrugated tin), built on stilts to be above the river when it floods and consist of one large room with a kitchen area (set a little back to minimise the fire risk). The poorest houses were simply a platform on stilts, that’s all. The better off houses had external walls and internal partitions to give privacy. Occasionally there were mattresses but often people slept in hammocks. Any possessions tended to be on open shelves, again to minimise the risk of damage from flooding.
Water is sometimes from a well but people are a bit suspicious of these and there is not always a supply of water. More often water is taken from the river: the river is saturated with silt, fish, dolphins and unknown numbers of bugs live in the water and the people wash themselves and their clothes, and to drink from. There is little or no sanitation in many villages so when the rains come the effluent goes into the river. No wonder each person registering on the ship needs a worm and anti-parasite pill.
In the larger settlements there may be concrete shacks and buildings that are more robust. There, however, are not that well built and soon fall into disrepair. Damp and humid conditions make it difficult to maintain buildings very well.
Usually there is a primary school (where most children start learning English at an early age!), occasionally a high school, a little shop of some sort and a health clinic. For more than basic health care people have to travel to Nauta or Iquitos; often even the facilities in towns are beyond the means of people who are unable to afford further treatment. I need to expand a little on this and will do so tomorrow.