Home > Uncategorized > Pampas trip: July 21- July 25th.

Pampas trip: July 21- July 25th.

After slimming down our bags the night before, we placed our big bags in luggage storage at Hotel Fuentes before checking out.  The lady from Inca Tours (who we booked through) showed up at our hotel to help us waive down a cab, and give the driver directions to the bus we were meant to catch.  It wasn’t any help, as the driver took us to the wrong bus company!  Lucky for us we headed up the road a bit before stumbling upon it… And how great that bus looked! (sarcasm).  By far the worst bus we’ve been on in South America thus far.  Limited room, it stank, shoddy windows, the roof overflowing with goods being transported, and no washrooms.  Making matters worse was the fact we departed at 13:30 instead of 12:30.

Once we got rolling things were even more mind-blowing.  All buses have this little helper dude who runs around doing tasks they don’t want the driver doing.  Let me first explain something about the goods on the roof: there was a lot…it could be classified as “heaping.”  This dude had the task of climbing on the roof, and LIFTING THE POWER LINES over top of the stuff on our roof (as it was that high.)  I was getting ready to administer CPR to an electrocution victim when i finally noticed him climb down unscathed.  After a brief time of paved road and nice rocky mountain scenery, the road turned into cliffside and gravel.  Once I noticed the mist setting in I began to have flashbacks of my bus crash almost a year ago to the day in Laos.  Much like flying I thought the best way to get through it is accept death.  After coming to terms with my life I was able to close my eyes and get through it.

Cliffside

The road around certain cliffs was only one lane wide.  Now think about the fact that the road takes 2-way traffic.  There are tons of blind corners… The drivers pretty much get through by honking, then sticking their heads between their legs and kissing their ass goodbye.  Lucky for us we only had one incident were a taxi was coming the opposite way around the corner when we were going, causing it to crash into the side of the mountain.

We had a brief 30 min stop for dinner in this small town.  It was a chicken restaurant, so when the waiter said something to me in Spanish (I clearly understood nothing) I nodded my head and said “Si” assuming he was offering me some sort of chicken meal.  Our jaws hit the floor when a bowl of soup was placed before me with a hand of some creature sitting in it.  It looked absolutely disgusting, and we couldn’t figure what it was.  A local couple was close to tears in laughter after seeing our expression, and noticing us taking pictures of it.  But people who know me know that sort of thing doesn’t really phase me (we are immersed in foreign cultures after all), so I merely removed the hand, and downed the broth.  Next up came some normal rice and beef, which got us through the night.

The Hand

We got what little sleep we could through the night before arriving in Rurrenabaque early in the morning on the 22nd.  Our guide (Juan) met the group at the terminal and walked us to the tour office.  Here we waited for a brief while, where me and Paul snuck off to grab breakfast, before splitting into two groups and heading to the river.
Our group was obviously the best group.  We had the two English girls from Manchester  Coco and Charley (turned into good friends, travelled later on with), a french girl named Fleur, and a Dutch couple Johan and Laura.  We bonded on a ridiculously bumpy ride for 2-3 hrs down a shoddy road in a little jeep.  Finally we jumped out and started to get feeling in our bums again where he had lunch at an odd little place.  It was some sort of place that looks after sick animals.  There was pigs, chickens, cats, dogs, a giant deer, and armadillo, a monkey, and a squirrel.  After a quick bite we jumped onto a riverboat and heading upstream.

Me with the deer

The sqirrel

Monkey

pigs

We began snapping pictures like crazy: Crocodiles, monkeys, birds, river dolphins… All this and we hadn’t even got to the lodge yet.  It was a good 3 hr boat trip upstream to our lodge.  After about 1.5 hrs we actually got used to all the croc’s being on the riverside and ceased taking pictures of them.

Howler Monkeys

Bird eating a snake... Lucky sight

2 crocs

Cayman

Loud bird

Turtle stuck on log

The bird that's always posin'

Croc coming up

Babies

Birds nest view

The monkey that wanted no part of us

We then had a quick bite in the lodge where we interacted with the other group.  2 Calgarians (Alicea + Aylin) and a South Carolinian named Michael (Clemson).  We headed upstream to catch the sunset at a bar.  We soaked it in with a fat bottle of beer before heading downstream to do some croc hunting.  We all had flashlights, so when you flash it on one, the eyes light up green.  It is a kinda creepy experience.  Juan had this desire to nab a baby croc, but never got to it.  The worst part of the whole thing was when Juan pulled the boat up close to shore cutting off a croc (really close to the boat.)  It always happened on Pauls side and he was never able to keep his cool, almost tipping the entire boat twice.  I had to explain that it is better for one of us to loose their limbs then for all of us to go overboard and become croc food.  We headed back and had a relatively early night.

First to rise...shot at the riverlodge

The next day (July 28th) we woke up early.  The other group was going on their sunrise thing, but one of the girls didn’t show in the morning.  So at 05:30 their guide was hollering her name in our dorm room while we were all trying to sleep.  After that we all had a sort of sporadic sleep until waking at 07:15.  We chowed down breakfast before nabbing some white wellingtons and heading to the Anaconda marsh.

We were all given long poles.  At first we couldn’t decide if it was to fend off the snakes, or to keep our balance.  Upon arriving in the marsh we found it was primarily the latter.  The marsh stunk like sewage.  It was our first sign that Juan wasn’t like other tour guides, as he lead us right through the marsh, whereas the others were going around the side of the marsh.  Juan was prodding for the snakes through the water/mud we were wading through.  My stick broke about 30 mins in, and I knew it was trouble… Sure enough 5 mins later I plunged into the water.  Only 1 Anaconda was found by all the groups there.  Once it was found our group was stuck in the middle (it was near the side) so we all had to wad all the way to it, and were the last to arrive.  I was standing near a quiet part of the circle around the snake (just me + Juan) when the snake decided to head straight for us.  Juan then booked it just when my boot got stuck in the mud.  Everyone (but me) was laughing their ass off as I almost became snake food.  After this we told Juan we had enough of the marsh-wadding, and that we were going to stay on the dry parts.

Wadding in my White Wellies

The Anaconda we found

With a croc corpse

Coco + I wadding... Pre-Stick Break

4 of us after the snake hunt

We then headed back to camp for lunch and a brief siesta before heading out to swim with the river dolphins.  We were in the middle of the river when we spotted them.  Juan told us to jump in and swim…. Now let me explain the situation: We just went by tons of crocs, and there was a giant croc on the shore right in front of us.  I assumed we would be swimming in a secluded lake or something.  Obviously we all assumed he was talking the sh*t.  So I say, “no Juan, you first amigo.”  Much to my shock, he then striped down to his speedo and jumped on in.  So I decided to follow suit and everyone came in.  It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.  Wildlife-wise it was better than being in the cage with Tigers in Thailand.  So we swam in the muddy water, when the other tour groups came by… We obviously joked around, so I yelled out “Help… Our boat capsized…The crocs are after us.”  After realizing they thought it was funny, but their guide wouldn’t let them go in.  Right after that the croc on the short jumped in the water, so we all hurried back to the boat.

Juan scaring the crap out of us by jumping in

Coco + I braving it, eyes open for crocs

Me going deep... Was that a stick, or croc tail?

Juan then took us to another swimming spot where another 4 boats were.  There was a huge current here which at first we didn’t realize.  It was heading towards another shore where a little croc was.  Me, Coco, Paul, and Charley were close friends by this point, so we all went on a little adventure to cross the current.  Here is a cool pic of us getting swept away by it:

Swept Away

Paul, Charley, Coco, Me

After this we heading to a local ranch/bar where a good 50-70 backpackers all gathered to play soccer, volleyball, sip beer and watch the sunset… There was one incident that sort of troubled me.  I was sipping beer watching the volleyball game, when I looked over at Coco who was kicking a soccer ball with a local girl and a little boy.  All of a sudden the little dude (facing Coco) drops his shorts, whips out his willie, starts handing a piss.  Right after that he pulls them back up, and kicks the ball right through the puddle as if nothing happened… I know theres the “cute” factor, but doesn’t the “wrong” factor make it questionable behavior?

After this it was another night ride down the river to our lodge.  This night we had a campfire, as our group decided to opt out of the 05:30 sunrise part of the tour, and sleep in instead.  All the groups sat and chat for a while, before it wound down to the four of us (Paul, Me, Charley, Coco), then just me + Coco… eventually some 2 random locals came up from the river to join us.  When we finally decided to hit the hay, we kept freaking out thinking certain shapes that showed up in front of our flashlights were snakes and such.  Thankfully they weren’t.

both groups attending campfire

The next morning we headed out fishing for Piraña’s.  We didn’t have any luck catching them, but we did get a couple catfish and some other little ones.   We tried at least 3 places, without much luck, before heading back to camp to back up our stuff and head back down river.

The busirde back to Rurrenabaque was awful this time.  It seemed so much longer and we all hated life for the 3+ hrs.  Once in town the 4 of us (Coco, Charley, Me, Paul) bid the rest farewell before grabbing a hostel in town.  It was a nice little place with a funny old man at the door.  He was so happy for some reason.  He kissed Coco on the head and started saying how strong I looked.  This was my kinda place… So we took a 4-bed room.

After showering we headed out for dinner at a local hotspot.  It was pretty good food.  After dinner we were walking back to our hostel, we had odd urination act #2.  We stopped at a net cafe for a bit to send some emails.  After wrapping up we turned the corner to see some little kid (5 years old) whip out his dink, and begin peeing on his friend… Who for one reason or another, WAS MIMICKING THE REFLEXES OF A TORTOISE!!!  The kid saw us… wasn’t ashamed, but it away, then put his arm around his friend (I’m assuming was piss-covered) and walked away.

Once that head-scratcher ended we stopped at a corner store to pick up some beer, along with icecream and oreo’s.  The girls wanted to gave one of those “girls-pig-out” nights.  We went back to the room, pulled all the beds together, faced each other and dug in: Oreo scoops into a bucket of icecream.  Paul didn’t have any, I managed only 2 oreo scoops, while the girls went nuts (Coco earned her nickname Fatty.)  I don’t know how depressed women do such a thing.  After this we all watched some Mad Men, lasting various lengths: Charley = 1 episode until falling asleep, Paul = 2 episodes before falling asleep, Me + Coco = 4 episodes, no falling asleep… Chilling in hammocks after then hitting the hay.

The next morning we check out, had breakfast, and heading back to the Inca Tour office to get our bus tickets back to La Paz.  We were given moto-taxis to the bus depot (it reminded me of the good times riding them in Vietnam.)  The bus was steaming hot, as they had all the windows shut.  This bus-ride was much of the same, but slightly less time-wise (18 hrs as opposed to the 20 hrs of the one there.)  Most of it was spent sleeping or trying to sleep.

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