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Rurrenabaque jungle and food poisoning

sunny 32 °C

After resting up it was time to take the long and uncomfortable bus to the jungle town of Rurrenabaque, the entry point to visit the jungle and pampas. The route started off being almost scarier than the “world’s most dangerous road” that we had just done. At times the road was only 4-5 m wide with crazy curves and 100 meter vertical drops on the side. There were a few close calls where the bus driver had to stomp on the break only to be 10cm away from a meeting vehicle. Also strange is that they drive on the left side of the road on this specific road, but nowhere else in Bolivia.

After a bumpy nearly sleepless night we arrived at 5am. We decided to take a day and rest up before jumping on a tour. The village is really nice, set next to a river and covered by real jungle, jungle on all sides of the village. We spent a day just researching travel agencies, as there as so many of them offering the same type of trips. In the end we could not really figure out what was the big difference between the offers so we simply went with the cheapest.

The next day we were off on the three day pampas tour that goes along a river into the wild. In the end the group we went with was a nice mix of people from all over the world. This is always ends up giving the best atmosphere. We met some groups that were all Israelians and we have to say that the bad reputation that they have for having complete lack of respect for nature, local customs and other people, was lived up to. They are probably better behaved when travelling solo, but when in a big group they behave like drunken Americans on Spring break party.

The first day started with a 3 hour bumpy ride in a 4x4 drive. Later we got on a type of motor driven canoe and started to travel up the river. We were all excited taking poor pictures of the first half covered caimans and alligators we saw. After half an hour we had probably seen 200 of them and relaxed with the camera a bit. In addition we saw loads of turtles sunbathing on trees that had fallen into the river. It was quite fun to see how many turtles the wave from the boat could knock off the trees. Also we saw loads of capybaras (big hamsters as I called them or dogs as our fellow travel companion David Hasselhof look-alike said).

The guide was not doing so much of guiding (e.g. stopping and explaining things), but we pushed him to go back a few times. We saw some of the pink dolphins but they were quite freighted from the boats and kept their distance. Apparently when its low water like now they are very shy (or afraid). We did however get some close contact with some cute small yellow monkeys. At first the guide was being very eco and correct, but after a while he started to through bananas to them and he even put some bananas on the head of one of the girls on our group. Really bad to do this type of things, but on the same time it was cool to get so close to the monkey.

The second day’s main activity was anaconda hunting. As it was low water (or should I say no water) we had to walk around 5-6 km to get to the hotspot. I think we left too late though as after two hours walking and searching, the sun started to get extremely hot. The area has practically no shade and most people were suffering pretty badly. Me and a French guy from our group were running around searching in the grass with the guides, but in the end we had to give up and go back. Such a shame we did not get to see one (well we saw a few ones that had died from the lack of water in the area) but the search was sort of exciting. After a long and warm walk back we all had to rest up in our jungle camp.

In the late afternoon we went piranha fishing. Our guide was cutting up a nice bloody steak which we used for bate. I managed to catch one after just a few throws and we all thought that we would be pulling them up every minute. However they are pretty sly fishes, biting off the meat without swallowing the hook. The trick is to pull hard and quickly when they are biting the meat so that the hook basically pierces them somewhere. Easier said than done, but our guide showed his skills in the end of the trip, pulling up a fish at nearly every try. That evening we showed those piranhas’ who´s top of the food chain. It was not much meat on them, but at least we can add them to weird things we´ve eaten on this trip.

Though the noisy Israeliens had left our camp, we both slept really bad. I was having stomach pain and feeling like vomiting. Laura had to visit the toilet a few times and when it was time to get up we it was pretty clear that we´ve gotten food poisoned. Some of the others were feeling a bit bad too, and we were all trying to figure out what it was, the piranhas, the dodgy artificial drinks we had, or the pasta sauce the night before. In the end it did not make sense, but Laura followed by me were definitely the worst. We had to return to camp during that day’s wildlife spotting tour to lie down in bed. Unfortunately we had no choice later on as we had to try to make it back to Rurre. Laura was lying down in the wet and dirty boat and we were both feeling like horrible the whole 2 hour boat and 3 hour car drive back.

Our initial plan was to go with bus to Trinidad that night, but we were obviously not in a state to travel on a 20 hour bumpy bus without toilet. Laura was actually not in a state to do anything but run from bed to toilet. I started to feel better the next day, but Laura was still really bad and we decided to stay yet another night. This turned into one more night, during this whole time Laura did not leave the bed for 3 days and I was running around playing nurse by buying different medicines, and trying to get something that she would eat.

After 3 days we decided that we had to take a flight if we wanted to move as Laura could still not get on a bus. We took a flight with TAM, the ex-military airline, back to La Paz for 40 Euro per person and saved 20 hours on some of the worst road known to man. The altitude chock in combination with Laura being sick was too much and she went with the Airport Doctor (the info desk called them after me only mentioning that my girlfriend was feeling a bit sick). She got some medicine for free and got to have an oxygen mask too. Quite good airport service, but I suppose they are very used of people feeling bad after landing on the world’s highest airport.

After this we took a bus to Cochabamba where we would take a plane two days later to Asuncion. Again, Laura did not leave the room during the whole stay and I was running around getting various medical advice and medicine from pharmacies. Even the flight to Asuncion was tough for Laura and we had to stop a night in Asuncion to rest up before continuing to Iguaçu falls. By now Laura had lost 4-5 kilos (which does not leave much meat on her). She had tried various medicine including antibiotics and she was still not getting better. After speaking to a doctor in a pharmacy we went to a private hospital to get a real check up. Funny was that you actually pay the doctor himself in cash (which he simply puts straight down his pocket). Even though it cost a bit we finally got something that started to work. When we got to Puerto Iguaçu Laura started to feel much better. The first thing we did after finding a hostel was to go out and eat the first real warm meal that Laura had had in over a week. Hurray we were finally able to start enjoy ourselves…. Tomorrow we´re seeing Iguaçu falls… can´t wait.

Our piggy fellow hanged out with us during lunch, like a pet

Our piggy fellow hanged out with us during lunch, like a pet

Turtles sunbathing...when the boat passed they got wet again though

Turtles sunbathing...when the boat passed they got wet again though

Capybara's stampida

Capybara's stampida

Pink river dolphin showing its head

Pink river dolphin showing its head

Resting up in the hammocks back in the camp

Resting up in the hammocks back in the camp

Yelow monkeys playing around

Yelow monkeys playing around

Yellow monkey screaming for our attention...he was hungry!

Yellow monkey screaming for our attention...he was hungry!

Beautiful aligator reflecting in the water

Beautiful aligator reflecting in the water

Staff meeting for the aligators

Staff meeting for the aligators

we didn't see any anaconda but Henrik got to touch an aligator

we didn't see any anaconda but Henrik got to touch an aligator

Cruising down the river in the sunset

Cruising down the river in the sunset

Posted by hmontonen 08:07 Archived in Bolivia

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