Look Around... This is LIFE!
The Belen Market in Iquitos Peru is not a tourist market which makes it perfect for getting a peak inside the lives of the locals. Iquitos is only accessible by plane or boat and lies at the convergence of three major rivers which flow into the Amazon, just a short boat ride away. The Belen market is a lifeline for the locals providing just about anything you can imagine. This market is huge, spanning block after block and outlined by the river and floating city, its an easy place to get lost in the labyrinth of alleys, buildings, tented stalls and not so welcoming places that house the underbelly of the cities black market trade. While I have always felt safe and haven’t had any problems, the locals always say to be careful and there are police officers directing the few tourists that do venture down to the market to the safe areas. I LOVE markets like these where life is happening right before you as it has for generations!
Beautifully Choreographed Chaos
I love seeing the locals living their lives, feeling the hustle and bustle of this market makes me feel connected to the people and Iquitos. I am always in awe as I walk the alleys lined with stalls selling the bounty of the abundantly rich Amazonian region. Fresh fruits, fish, meat, organs, spices, homemade soups, juices, and people cooking food as their mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers have for generations. Everything is so fresh and vibrant, you see family members bringing in fresh fish and produce, stocking the stalls with what has just been harvested or caught that morning. Its beautifully choreographed chaos!
Shamans, Witches, Potions & Magic
One of my favorite parts of the Market is Witches Alley. Here you can buy anything dealing with Shamanism and sometimes mixed in with some Dark Magic. Not for the faint of heart, this alley offers potions that claim to cure just about everything while using some incredible ingedients. There are some vendors I stay away from because there energy is very dark, others are truly there to help and take great pride in their magical elixirs of life. As you walk through the alley you start to see clear bottles with amber and dark colored liquids in them, filled with medicinal plant material, herbs, tree and root barks, and anything else that rounds out the medicine mans potent but sacred brew. Customize it as these medicine men/women can whip up a special brew just for you if there is something specific that ails you. There are tinctures that are said to cure high blood pressure, diabetes, erectile disfunction, cancer, and even take the itch away from mosquito bites. Now, that's just what is showing on the stands, but believe me there is a whole underbelly of black market items for sale here. Alligator skins and heads, fetuses of baby lamas, magic spell potions, live animals, and the list goes on. A rare glimpse into the world of dark magic.