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Introducing Coca

Not long ago Coca was a cluster of lean-tos on dirt roads. Growth means concrete, lots of it, paved roads and ubiquitous hairdressing shops. The capital of the Orellana province since 1999 (and officially known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana), Coca embraces the fallout of oil exploration. Executives from ‘the company, ’ as it’s called (any oil company) are easily recognizable breakfasting in the best hotels in crisp shirts and leather boots. Throw into the mix the soldiers and sailors, urbanized indigenous and colonists. If you’re traveling on to a jungle lodge on the lower Napo or to Peru, Coca is a lackluster but strangely compelling stop along the way.

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