Risks in the Amazon

By Doyice Cotten

There is risk everywhere, whether we are in a major U.S. city, a rural community in Kansas, on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, playing a lottery, or an online casino. In this article, we will look at some risks faced by those living in the Amazon basin and in some cases by tourists visiting the area.

Photos 2, 3, and 4include some risks faced by tourist in the city of Iquitos – the gateway to the Amazon. In Photo 2, note the steep stairs with no hand rail and in Photo 3, the debris in the street is obvious. Photo 4 shows a large metal plate that seems to cover some defect in the pavement. It presents a real trip hazard to pedestrians.

Some risks that the group we were with encountered are also a risk to locals. Photo 5 shows nails protruding from a gate used by both locals and tourists. Likewise, Photo 6 shows a footbridge that has very uneven flooring, but does have handrails for users. Photos 7 and 8 illustrate a set of “steps” used to enter a house – no rails and precarious footing.  You might also notice that there are no walls or barriers to prevent one from falling from floor to ground (see Photo 9). And this is a typical home in which there are numerous children living there.

For locals, the local soccer field provides some risks. Photo 10 shows obstructions along the sidelines. Retrieving a shot at the goal can also create a challenge. In Figure 11, the ball is likely to go over a steep embankment down to the river; in Figure 12, it likely goes into high grass and weeds; and in Figure 13, it goes into the jungle.

Another tourist hazard at one site was climbing a steep embankment with no rail, steps, or gradual route. One of our group fell and got pretty banged up (Photo 14). Exiting the boat to go ashore involved walking the plank and climbing the steep embankment (Photo 15). Of course this is not as much of a problem in the rainy season when the river rises 10 to 15 feet and this is mostly underwater.

But, this is the Amazon. Tourists come expecting some risk (hopefully) and locals live with it daily. To them it is not risk, but normal daily life. They think nothing, for instance, of their kids playing at or near the Amazon or a mile-wide tributary.

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