Swans Commentary » swans.com July 16, 2012  



Stats And The Iquitos Girls


by Bo Keeley





(Swans - July 16, 2012)   Statistics lie unless you're a math wizard with the girls of Iquitos, Peru.

Tourists alight by riverboat or plane at the rate of about six per day for one or more of the following reasons: Jungle stays and outings, pretty jungle girls at an arguable 3:1 ratio, the hallucinogen ayahuasca, and to marry or retire with a resident visa by depositing their Social Security checks in a local bank.

A sturdy population of fifty ex-pats is the most independent and self-sufficient I've encountered around the globe, able to run businesses, miles, write articles, sue, and, according to the girls, dance horizontally with the greatest of ease and duration.

I'm criticized by ex-pats for suggesting the conservative ratio of 3:1 girls to guys, as most insist it is 5:1 according to hospital birth records, and 7:1 by the 2007 census. The ratio of 3:1 that I personally observe is sampled from four stays in Iquitos for an accumulative one year during the past fourteen years of visiting every town and suburb in the streets, stores, and homes.

So, what's the rub with the sex ratio?

During the 2007 national census, the streets were emptied, no one was allowed to leave his house, every shop was closed, no motorcars, and all was locked down by martial law for 24 hours. One ex-pat left his house with his U.S. passport and was stopped by police but allowed to continue by flashing the expired passport and claiming he was American.

Meanwhile the census counters combed the Peruvian houses and shanties to correct the previous census of about 450,000. According to another ex-pat who was a former head of the city tourism, the method was to rap the more ornate doorknockers, enter, and talk to the inhabitants where a bribe was possible to conceal their names for the same reason any world citizen might want to fly under the radar of a corrupt government. At poorer doors the counters were met by the women who told them through the crack that there were X children in the family, a few were off in the jungle, others in Lima, and the unconcerned census takers recorded the figures to satisfy their bosses.

Today I climbed the stairs of the census building on Plaza de Armas to the second floor library with the dimensions of a boxcar stuffed with shelves of official beige-covered printings. A bespectacled man smiled and pulled a booklet of the latest 2007 census, and helped me find the correct line for the sex ratio. That year there were 51.3% females and 48.7% males living in Iquitos, population about 500,000. I thanked him and left knowing this was just another factor in the chase for statistical accuracy.

The reason the census figure is inaccurate, besides the apparent shoddy counting method, is that the men of the homes by the thousands were out working in the agriculture fields, or on extended deeper stints in the jungle hunting and gathering charcoal. Probably thousands more hid in closets at the first rap on census day, and those who were unearthed by the counters in this town where a service charge that Americans call a bribe is attached to every transaction, greased the palms to go unidentified by the government.

However, these factors point to a higher male ratio, so there must be at least one great phantom influence that weighs the female count heavily in this popular hormonal destination for tourists.

Iquitos is surrounded by three rivers -- the Nanay, Itaya, and Amazon -- from which a network of feeder streams and trails bring hundreds of girls nightly and especially on weekends like jaguars to look the tourists directly in the dollar signs in their eyes, work, and disappear the next morning. A larger weight is that the national census was conducted on October 27, 2007, after the dry season and after the tourists had split Iquitos, and the girls by the thousands had removed to their jungle homes.

The girls appear about town in six forms: 1) Pretty plaza princesses in print dresses ask straight-out for sex. 2) Not a day goes by that nearly every male tourist and ex-pat is asked by at least one of thousands of store clerks, street cleaners, and waitresses near the end of her shift, "Where you are staying?". 3) The well-to-do gringos and Peruvians frequent the hotels at a room rate of $5 per two hours plus a negotiated fee with the trampita. According to my hostel manager on the town fringe where I pay the two-hourly rate for a full day by advancing a week's rent, almost all of the men who bring girls while I'm away hiking or using the internet are university professors, municipal government officials, a few lower workers, and many store owners. They arrive by surveyed MotoKar or park in personal curtained garages before the doors so no one may identify their vehicles. They bring a different girl on each visit, stay two hours, turn on the fan to camouflage their noise, and don't tell their wives. The reason this hostel fills daily with rotating clients is because it's more "secret" than the others in the city centre. 4) The ubiquitous striving mothers-in-law who ask for a short bio before pushing their daughters into your arms.

If you escape the princesses, clerks, hostels, and mothers-in-law: 5) the Teratoca by the airport is the size of a walled soccer field with a central path between twelve facing huts where unoccupied girls in scanty dress stand, chat, or dance on little wood porches before each door. The mean $3.50 fee buys a short thrill, but an internal clock ticks and one may kick you out before the interview is complete. The best girls are identified by the number of men who scale the hut walls to peer under the thatched roofs, and basically one avoids the dancers to wait in line for the performers. 6) A final option soon to open is the Yacht Club at the nearby confluence of the rios Nanay and Itaya with the highest water in forty years, according to the Navy captain, that presently blankets the surrounding grassy meadow with 1.5 meters of water. When the ground dries, the pretty barrio girls bring tarps to fold in half for a floor and one wall of privacy from the prying Yacht Club telescopes. The water, according to the captain, is receding at 10 cm/day and the tarp girls should be high and dry in two weeks. Sailors and members line up in the heat of the day at $1.25 a throw, or for great biographies at the same fee. A used condom pile of a few to dozens draws scrutiny and flies aside each entrance where they won't be stepped on as witness markers of the best services.

Some statistics brim with hidden lies if you know where to look: 1) An "average" value should be expressed as a mean, median, or mode. 2) An average value without a measure of the variability in a distribution, or without the degree of its significance, is called a naked statistic and is often a useless skew from a normal distribution. 3) Post-hoc rationalization means that you can't always assume that if B follows A, that A caused B. 4) Mutual statistics is the fallacy that if you can't prove what you want to prove, demonstrate something else and pretend they are the same thing.

If you wonder how to see through all the snake oil of statistics, become a critical thinker.

For the final analysis, pool the available data and weigh most heavily the personal observations of the largest sampling possible under the greatest umbrella of area. You may come to Iquitos in the off-season when the ratio is nearer the worldwide 107 boys to 100 girls to become a critical thinker, or arrive in July through September to confirm my observation that there are about three aggressive girls for every guy.


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About the Author

Bo Keeley is a retired veterinarian, former publisher, author of seven books on sports and adventure, national paddleball and racquetball champion, commodities consultant, school teacher, psychiatric technician, traveler to 96 countries, and executive adventure guide who has been featured in Sports Illustrated and other national publications as an alternative adventurer.   (back)


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published July 16, 2012