Worlds Apart

You cannot reach Iquitos by land. Hidden in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, this rubber-boom city will not give you leave to enter unless you have conquered the river or the clouds first. It is a world apart from Paris and yet they have something rather unexpected in common: Gustave Eiffel. Not a tower this time around, but a Casa de Fierro gifted to the jungle by the famous French architect.

Despite its isolation, Iquitos is the fifth largest city in Peru and a very cosmopolitan one at that, brimming with culture and even luxury in the midst of untamed wilderness. It is a quirk of history ready to befuddle the visitor. That it is possible for it to even exist – a jungle city – seems like a contradiction in terms.

Yet not far from its dazzling lights, quite another life unfolds on the shores of the Amazon…

The Amazon, Peru

The indigenous people of the Amazon Basin keep alive the traditions of their semi-nomadic tribes. Like their ancestors, they subsist on hunting, fishing, gathering, and agriculture. Unlike their ancestors, they add tourism as a source of income.

This picture was taken in a village some four hours by boat from Iquitos. Two women dancing, in juxtaposition.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

The Eiffel Tower


Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

An iron lattice tower, La Tour Eiffel has long been France’s global cultural icon and one of the most visited monuments in the world. Paris has many a landmark that could claim grandeur, but perhaps none other quite as well known.

Not everyone shared the engineer’s enthusiasm for the project. A “Committee of Three Hundred” that included some of the most important figures of the French arts establishment sent a petition to the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, criticising the project. Their letter was later published by Le Temps:

 “We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower…To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all humiliates monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream…”

Yet Gustave Eiffel’s speech on the 30th of March 1885, to the Société des Ingiénieurs Civils had been proved correct in its claim that the tower would come to symbolise:

“not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude.”


~ All this… and so much more ~