By 6:30pm, about 10 hours later stuck (by choice) at the airport, boredom and anticipation sets in badly. I checked in as early as possible and wandered around the departure gates waiting for our gate to be announced. Josh somehow caught me among the crowd and we finally met for the first time. Josh, and his wife Joy, and I had been conversing online for a few years, helping each other out planning trips and identifying species. This was the first time we met and our first trip together. I could tell from the start they are super people and we would have a lot of fun.
We had the same flight and took the taxi together to our hotel in Iquitos. I thought Lima traffic was wild, only to be exceeded by Cusco. However, Iquitos usurp all of them. Car are few and far in between in Iquitos. The streets were ruled by motorbikes (similar to tuk-tuk) and motocycles. These vehicles jockey for position on the street, often squeezing between lanes and other vehicles to overtake and pass, or to get starting position at a traffic light. Drivers have a habit of running red lights if cross traffic is absent. When there's a bus or truck fulling in a lane, it causes traffic jams as the motorbikes cannot easily overtake these large vehicles and the jostling motorbikes further contributes to congestion. It took time to get used that traffic.
My friend at work describes Iquitos as "Saigon in the 70's". I don't know what Saigon looks like in the 70's as it was before my time...but it does feel like time has left Iquitos behind.
We arrived at the hotel late. Ben and George had already arrived, but Michael was delayed by a mechanical issue in Texas and he wouldn't be arriving until the next morning. Josh and Joy had a scare as the hotel did not register their reservation, but the hotel did eventually find them a room for the night.