In order to reach our field site in Peru, the Los Amigos Biological Field Station (or CICRA), you must clamber onto a river boat. These small craft can take an unholy amount of time to swim upriver – particularly in the wet season when the river flows, swollen and irritable, away from your destination – and so every little bit of the journey that you can cut away, is time saved.
Thus, we find ourselves at Laberinto – a makeshift town, growing and shrinking with the tide of mining fervor on the river – the veritable gateway to the rainforest in southeastern Peru. Every inch to the west of this town is forested with old-growth and new, alive with the throbbing heart of the Peruvian Amazon.
We stop for a while in this town, placing ourselves on a little cement platform occupied by very small white dogs. We are next to the lady selling chicharrones (fried pork fat) and yuca, and close enough to the river to witness several boats docking and taking on passengers.
Men saunter by, seemingly without purpose, only to be galvanised into action when a boatsman needs a hand. I never can tell if they work for anyone, no one, or everyone.