Travel Journal

the amigo club, french pastries and the kayaking dog......

(Saturday 26 June 2010) by Katie and Tina on the Run!
Okay! so, we left La Paz with a see ya sucker and a hilarious taxi ride to the airport.
We expected the usual airport jargon, being that it�s the capitol city of a country and all, but instead got a bus-like terminal and a security guard who doesn�t even check your ID when he lets you through security.
hilarious.

The plane sat a whopping 18 people and you could see all the way out the front windshield. My absolute love for airplanes made the flight a complete joy. (ha! yeah right.) On the landing we were pretty certain we�d crushed all the landing gear with the crash into the ground we did, but lo and behold, as soon as we got off another group boarded and it took off again!
Really looking forward to that flight back....

Once the nightmare was over and we got into Rurrenabaque, we fell in love with the jungle even faster than my hair turned into a poodle! It�s a tiny little town with a lot of restaurants and ice cream shops and the only thing disturbing the peace is the parade of motorcycles in constant motion (there are no cars and motos are the taxis). We arrived in the evening and checked into our hotel (a whopping 6 dollars a night) and did our best to get use to the bugs!

The next day we relaxed in some hammocks before heading out to book our three day tour in the Pampas ( the area in the perimeter of the jungle, good for spotting animals) and then hit the pool! Got a mototaxi to drive us up the hill to the pool (a mildly terrifying experience, and what an odd job..having people stradling you all day while you drive them around in the extreme heat) Later we discovered a delicious fish dinner and got some free caprianas (mojito like brazillian drink) and took a little walk to the sounds of the many many karaoke bars singing their lungs out to the jungle night.
monkey!!
monkey!!


It was an early morning the next day to head out on our tour and we were equipped with more sunscreen and DEET bug spray than anyone should ever need in a lifetime. Met our group for the next three days, two kiwis, two californians and a polak, all in all a fun and intersting group. Our guide left a little to be desired, but he did grow up in the depths of the jungle, so he was very familiar with all our many questions and very sensetive to the treatment of the wildlife, which was what we were hoping for. Unfortunately for all involved, the tour begins with a 3 hour dusty dusty drive in a jeep down a nonexistant road to the tunes of bad 90�s music blaring from the blown out speakers. Our backsides and inner ears were quite numb by the time we arrived to our destination river.
After that it was a relaxing and exciting three hour float down the river Beni where right from the very beginning we were surrounded by birds of incredible variety, monkeys, turtles (gramma!), capybaras (the world�s largest and cutest rodent) and caimen after caimen after caimen. Truly in three days we must have seen 500 crocodiles of all sized and had a few of the more aggressive black caimen even lunge for our boat!
caimen!! oh my!!
caimen!! oh my!!


When we finally made it to the lodge we were all a little sunstroked but it was a beautiful sight to watch the sun set over the jungle. Our guide took us tarantula hunting just before bed (tina and her fear of spiders steered clear)and though (or maybe because) we didn�t find one all my dreams were creepy crawley.
our jungle gang
our jungle gang
the muck
the muck


Early wakeup the next morning so we could jump in the boat for a quick tour downriver to watch the sunrise from the savanna.
Back to camp for breakfast (the food was really really great) and then it was --dress in your dirtiest cloths, grab a pair of rubber boots and get ready because we�re going trudging through some serious muck and yuck, lookin for anacondas!!
I had reservations before we even left the lodge and of only i had known what was to come...
knee deep in muck. yuck.
knee deep in muck. yuck.


We walked a half hour from the river into the savanna and were suddenly confronted by a mile wide pool of knee deep sludge where we were supposed to trudge and stick and try not to fall over and oh yeah, also try to step on an anocanda and then call everyone else over so they can see it before it strangles you to death.
doesn�t that just sound like a blast?!
A guy in our group actually did find a baby one pretty quick and everyone rushed (though rushing in the sludge was litterally impossible) to see it but my boots were a bit too big which made the going even harder as i would get seriously stuck with every other step so i was trying to expedite the process of getting to the snake and also to Tina who was much more adept at trudging and decided to walk a direction no one else was....when suddenly something stabbed me in the arm.
before i had a chance to lift my arm up to see what it was something stabbeed me in the neck.
then the other arm and then the face and all at once i realized i had walked into a wasps nest and i was being attacked by jungle wasps. the pain was second only to my extreme fear at the fact that i couldn�t run away because of the sludge so i just started screaming and throwing my arms all around and trying to run without falling or dropping our camera, all the while the only thing playing in my head was the scene from �my girl�when the nerdy kid with the glasses gets attacked by bees when he�s alone in the forest and he dies because he�s allergic.
some guys finally came to my rescue and beat the wasps off me, but not before they�d laid into me around 20 times so i was swollen and crying my face off and had to trudge all the way to the edge of the muck where our guide covered me in the same slime i had been trying to avoid touching because he said it was good for the pain of the stings.
Though funny now, this was not an awesome part of the day.

After I had rinsed the river mud off and filled myself with antihistamines, it was time for swimming with the pink water river dolphins.
Unfortunately this also means swimming with the river pira�as.
And the river caimens.
So while most of our group was being pansy on the bank of the river, in the brown water only up to our ankles, (lucky for us, we had made the most excellent purchase of some strap on teva like sandals, absolutely hideous, but so necessary for stepping in brown water you can{t even see one inch through, plus the very greatest part, aside from the face that they cost 4 dollars, is that the brand name is called Amigo Club. this has led to endless hilarious jokes!)
amigo club!!
amigo club!!
one brave soul of the gang dives right in and is searching for a dolphin not but two minues when she gets bit by a pira�a! This of course abolished any chance of the rest of us getting in so we aborted that mission and headed back to the lodge for dinner.

The next day was Pira�a fishing before our long journey back to the city so we set out to seek revenge on the fish that had taken a chunk out of our friend. Pira�a fishing in the sun is hard work (especially when the bait is raw meat and you�re stomach sensetive vegetarians who can�t even spear a raw cow on a hook!) but one of the girls was successful in catching three pira�as!
We were successful in getting a tan.

long long trip back in the boat and then the dusty dusty truck but finally made it back to Rurrenabaque to check into a new hotel, take a loooong shower and grab a goodbye drink with our group members.

The next day we had arranged to go kayaking witha lovely father/son tour company and we were the only two booked!
DSCN1832.JPG
So it was just us, daniel the tour guide and his oh so cute dog loco (cause he{s crazy! he swam/ran the whole length of the river with us to meet us at camp and hang out!) Since we are planning on becoming super kayakers once we live in florida, we were really excited for this day and it definitely did not let us down. the kayaking was awesome and the scenery could not have been more beautiful. We saw some ancient rock carvings and kayaked for a little over an hour to get to the jugle lodge to have lunch and swim in the natural pools (so awesome). after some lunch and excellent hammock swinging, Daniel and a sweet little non english speaking jungle man took us ona trek through the jungle.
jungle flute
jungle flute
We learned all about the rainforest plants and even saw the fruit that makes the cocoa bean chocolate comes from! Yet again we learned the valuable lesson of what goes up must come down, and unfortunately for us it had rained some on our upward hike so the downward was oh so slippery in the mud and the amigo clubs, though awesome, were not made for sufficient downhill jungle trekking. We were grabbing onto vines, trees, each other, looking like a most awkward Tarzan the whole way down, until finally, the mountain won over Tina and her Amigos and she cartoon slid on her back down the hill while we all laughed uncontrollably!
We kayaked back very slowly, as we didn{t want the experience to end, as well as it was quite hilarious that Loco the dog had tired himself out of the way there, and litterally forced Daniel to carry him back on top of his kayak!!
Without a doubt, one of our most favorite days.

Also worth a shout out about Rurrenabaque, there are two ex pats who have each lived here for seven years, one from france and one from Miami and the Miami guy sells banana bread and brownies while passing out weirdo literature on evangelical christianism and conspiracy theories, and the french dude makes delicious french pastries and rides around on a motorcycle. And the weirdest part is they both make the most delicious baked goods we{ve ever had in our lives, and the two guys have nothing to do with each other! We can{t figure it out but the world is sure a hilarious place.

Today we are headed back to La Paz (blah) where i{m going to brave a haircut (yikes) and we{re going to eat delicious thai food again. Wish us luck on the terrifying flight!

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  • Delayed to Australia by Tina's Dad


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