If shopping is a must for you during a vacation, there are a few options in Iquitos. The BelĂ©n Street Market is located in a poor neighborhood, but don't let that stop you from visiting. It is crowded, but is also a wonderful example of daily Iquitos life.
Visitors looking for indigenous crafts, expedition gear, books or a bargain can find it in Iquitos as well. The Anaconda craft market makes souvenir shopping a breeze, with some 30 vendors selling their wares under one roof. The market is on the MalecĂłn Maldonado riverside, between Nauta and Napo. Thereâ€™s a large sign on the walkway; the market is down a flight of stairs and in a wooden pavilion. Everything from blow guns to hand-dyed shirts and handmade masks are sold here.
Shoppers can watch artists carving, painting or making jewelry, and go home with an original piece signed by its creator. Seeds are common canvases in the Amazon. Crafters use them as the base for smaller items like key chains and necklaces or to adorn carvings, belts and heftier pieces. A necklace on a simple black string with a blue bead and clay design costs less than a $1, or a half-dollar-sized key chain with a small clay snake or monkey on top is around the same price.
Visits to isolated communities can be difficult to arrange, but crafts made by indigenous peoples are readily available in the market. A corn-husk doll made by members of the MuĂ±eco community on the RĂo MomĂłn costs around $2. A painted mask made from natural materials is $3.75. One or two sellers may have blow guns and darts. The gun is about around $35. The darts are stored in a wood cylinder, attached to a hollowed-out gourd and slung over the shoulder with a fabric strap. Hunters dip darts into poison, stored in the gourd. Since taking deadly weaponry through customs isnâ€™t a good idea, travelers can buy the entire outfit, minus the poison, for about $16.50.
Most items are handmade crafts, but there are also some animal products for sale, such as butterflies, spiders, piranhas and other jungle critters that were killed and sealed under glass. Itâ€™s easy to find jewelry, Iquitos T-shirts and preserved wildlife on the main streets, such as MalecĂłn Maldonado and around the Plaza de Armas. Prices and quality vary. Itâ€™s illegal to hunt jaguars and many other jungle animals, but itâ€™s not uncommon to be offered a necklace made from a jaguar claw.
Mad Mickâ€™s Trading Post, (Jr. Putamayo 184, upstairs. daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), is a good place to find mosquito nets, expedition hats, long-sleeved shirts or flashlights for jungle expeditions, used and new. The stock is a bit sparse and varies, but what there is can be a lifesaver if youâ€™ve forgotten something. Mad Mick will even buy back your gear when youâ€™re finished if itâ€™s in good condition. A new, packable canvas hat with a wide brim to block out the intense sun and a chin strap costs about $11.50.
The LibrerĂa La Castellana (Av. Arica 606), or bookstore, sells notebooks, pens and other writing supplies as well as some books. Buy bread, yogurt and other staples at Supermercado Los Portales (at the corner of PrĂłspero and Morona).
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