One of the most unusual places on earth is Leticia, Colombia, a port on the Amazon River.
It is located at the very bottom of a narrow strip of land hanging down from Colombia into Peru. Brazil borders the east. Meandering through the heart of the rainforest, the Amazon River forms the southern border.
The population is only 33,000, but Leticia is a major port, and the center from which are shipped tropical fishes for aquariums. Huge homes have been built here by wealthy Colombians. Each day three major airlines fly from Bogotá as Leticia is a favorite destination of foreign visitors. Roads lead nowhere: local traffic goes by river.
Legend informs us that a Portuguese explorer lost on the Amazon died of starvation at the present site. The port was named in 1867 in honor of a young lady living in the Peruvian city of Iquitos named Leticia Smith.
Leticia is derived from the Latin greeting laetitia, meaning joy and delight. Laetitia is also the Roman goddess of fertility. Laetitia, the saint, is venerated as a virgin martyr. In mediæval England, she is Saint Letycie or Saint Lititia.
One day I want to write about the great English beauty of Iquitos, Peru, with her flaming red hair and flashing eyes, who bedazzled the daring explorers of the Amazon during the 1800s—a siren who drew these men to their deaths in the green gloom of the rainforest, dismal and impenetrable, their cries of despair unanswered in the horror of death. Maybe her hair wasn’t red, and she may not have been English, but I want to tell her story; how the heart of the Amazon rainforest came to be named for her. Oh, Leticia, Leticia.