Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Pampas

Our time in the Pampas seemed to be another point in our trip doing things that never seemed to happen. This time it was mainly due to the abrupt cold and wet snap that the pampas experienced upon our arrival. Regardless of this it was still an amazing and fun 5 days.

 Upon our arrival to Rurrenabaque (or Rurre' for short) we were so happy to be at sea level after 3.5 months in  high altitude we were practically giddy with excitement - although this may have been the overload of oxygen our bodies were feeling. The weather was humid and smelt like rain - reminding us how close we've been to the equator this whole time that we've been hiding away in the mountains.

The first night I woke to a tropical storm beating down upon us. I lay in bed smiling, thinking of summer storms in Australia. A few hours later I woke with a start *BANG* gun shot? *BANG* dynamite? *BANG* .... the distant sound of a brass band grew louder. Por supuesto I thought, finally awake enough to comprehend the noises. It was 5am, a brass band was parading down the streets, so people were letting off fire crackers in the hostel courtyard. Por supuesto. I closed my eyes and repeated to myself, 'I love Bolivia' until I fell back asleep.

When we awoke 2 hours later the temperature had dropped significantly and the tropical storm had turned into drizzle. Middle of an English winter type weather, something I was entirely under prepared for. Not deterred we set off to Fluvial for our tour. 3 hours drive, lunch with a play fighting monkey and dog and a 3 hour boat ride in the rain later we arrived in the Pampas, partly jungle but mostly wetlands. On the banks of our camp we became acquainted with Hank. The 1 eyed, 3 footed alligator that claimed that part of the river. Although we were informed that he was mostly harmless, we all made sure to exit the boat from the other side.That afternoon we were supposed to do an activity but it was too wet. We obviously were not too put out by this as I actually have no recollection of what the activity was.

The next morning we went in search of anacondas. Although, as our guides suspected, it was too wet and cold to find any. Regardless, donned in rain coats, gum boots and war paint (mud), BB and I still had a great time exploring. At one point one of the guides called us over to a tree. Thinking he had found a snake, BB and I eagerly ran over. The guide indicated to a big hole in the tree a few meters off the ground. BB climbed the tree and looked in the hole, claiming she couldn't see anything. I climbed the tree and looked in the hole, I could see something big and black that wasn't the hole. A bird? I asked the guide. As BB didn't see anything she asked me to take a photo for her - so balancing on a branch and leaning on the tree I took a photo. Suddenly the big black thing was no longer stagnant, but flying upwards - with my face being the the only thing between it and the exit. I will admit, I let out a girly scream, much to the delight of BB and the guide. But to be honest, I was impressed I didn't fall out of the tree or drop BB's camera. Looking inside the tree again I saw 2 massive eggs. What a crap parent, I proclaimed, at the first sign of danger it abandoned their nest. After I climbed down, the still in hysterics B and Mario (our guide), explained that it was a vulture nest and that he had tapped the tree to startle it, and thus startle me! Once my heart had returned from my throat I found it hilarious as well.

Out of all of the specified activities, we didn't really fulfil any of them. We looked for anacondas but didn't find any, we fished for piraƱas but didn't catch any, we went to swim with pink dolphins but they swam away and we didn't do the other thing that i can't remember. Despite all this I had an amazing time. I got to feed wild monkeys; see pink dolphins and many other amazing creatures I'd never encountered before; met some people from Chile who had an incredible outlook on life; and shared some rare moments with 3 of the guides and another guest one night around the campfire after the others had gone to bed. The guides shared folklore stories and beliefs of the area with us - which was kindly translated for me by a very patient Chilean. It's rare moments like this that I really cherish when I travel. The experiences that you don't pay for.

Back in Rurre we spent our last night hanging out with the 2 other people in our group. We sat around a fire, in the outdoor area of a bar in the rain. All 4 of us wishing we were back around the fire in the Pampas.

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