Tarapoto

I arrived to Tarapoto earlier than expected, a little after 4 AM. Arriving at night is not ideal you will soon see why.

Got a motocar that would take me to the Hotel Cielo, a tip from the guy I met in Kuelap. Well all seemed fine until we arrived to a building with no sign and metal doors that the motocar driver insisted was the Hotel Cielo. As nobody would open the door I agreed to see some other options. I didn’t like any of them as I was sure Hotel Cielo accepted my visa card and had a pool. So I told the guy after like 30 min. of going around to leave me there that I would wait until they open. And gave him 4 soles which was plenty it seemed. After standing there for a while I walked to another hotel that looked nice -3 or 4 starts- but they told me they were full and that Hotel Cielo was not there but in the 3rd block of San Martin ave.

Fuck the motocar drivers, I thought.

It was around 5 AM so I went to the main square thinking that there should be a bar o a restaurant open and that I could have something to drink and wait for daylight. It just happens that everything was closed in Tarapoto. Not even a place for a coffee. So I walked around the square looking for even an emolientera but found a weird group of people sitting around a corner. Didn’t look friendly nor much safe so I just looked at the night sky and whistled away to go back and seat in the sidewalk in front of the tourist information office.

I waited around the main square until daylight came. In the meantime, I saw some men wearing orange overalls. A few were around the square, later many came and sat by the steps at the Continental bank office. They were the workers building the highway between Tarapoto and Yurimaguas. Later, as I thought of taking them a picture and was taking my camera out they started yelling “picture!, picture!” in English. I hesitated. And a bus came and parked between us. It was their time to go have breakfast before starting to work.

Daylight came, got to the Hotel Cielo -3 blocks away from the main square- 45 soles, including private bathroom, cable TV, a fun -no air conditioning at that fare- and pool use. The hotel is clean, looks quiet but square all around. Functional and clean.

Points of interest here are the tourist information office -that as usual has limited information-, La Muyuna ice cream just a couple of blocks from the main square -they have a shop also at Lima in Angamos with Arequipa ave. so you can try aguaje, camu-camu, copahiba and other exotic flavors without leaving Lima- and La Patarasca. This last one is a restaurant perhaps the best of my trip up to now. They take visa cards and have local dishes with an international touch. You can see here my lunch, a large piece of fresh Paiche fish grilled, a ball of tacacho -smashed bananas with small pieces of chicharron-, some small fried platanitos -sweet bananas- and Chonta salad -the stuff that looks like tagliatelle pasta- over a couch of fresh avocado and tomatos. This tastes like heaven, you gotta try it to believe it. They have many dishes but I can only eat one at a time.

grilled Paiche with Chonta salad

Being a Monday there was not much to do at Tarapoto, even the places at Morales district -including the red light stuff- I was told were not opened or barely. So I stayed downtown, ate nicely and walked a bit planning my visit to Laguna Azul -the Blue Lagoon- next day.

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