Just below the Belen Market is the Belen floating city. The city is known as the “Venice” of Peru. The canoes are like bicycles. That is how the people get around when the water rises enough that makes their house float. We were able to hire a boat and take a tour of this special city where hundreds of homes float amidst the wet season and rest on land in the dry season. Most houses in the floating village are built with balsa wood that float and others are built on stilts. The houses that are built on rafts are tied together so they do not float away in strong currents of the Amazon River.
It is rainy season and water levels are high from February to July. The water rises and falls about 30 feet between the seasons. We saw a motocar docked on the porch of a house just waiting to be started up once the dry season slowly lowered the house to ground and let it drive off. You see chickens and dogs everywhere. Their local school or mini markets are floating too. There are lily pads that are enormous 3-4 feet wide.
There is a lot of poverty in this area and it is apparent here where most people use the water from the river to provide for all their basic needs. Sanitation is questionable as people drink, bathe, swim and using the restroom in the same water. It is common for 10-15 people to live in a two-room house with no indoor plumbing. Power lines sometimes dangle dangerously close to the water. You would never know the circumstances from the children who play in the water. You hear the sound of shrills of joy and excitement and it can provoke great thought about what is important in life and how to live. The children’s smiles are infectious and infinite.
It is quite remarkable that these people have adapted to flooded conditions as a partial way of life from year to year despite their limited means for living. These people are the epitome of flexible and adaptable. I definitely felt like I have so much to be grateful in my life and yet a part of me yearned to “not know any better“ and be completely at peace and one with the Amazon River that could provide me everything I needed to live a simple, happy life.