Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Amazon Jungle

Okay, so now that I have been back in the US for five weeks... it is time for me to wrap up my blog! My last weekend excursion was by far my best: I went to the Amazon Jungle! Ever since elementary school when we did a unit on the rainforest, I have always wanted to go to the Amazon, the jungle of all jungles. This is hard to believe but over half of Bolivia is Amazon basin, which is just simply amazing. I will never be able to get over the fact this this country is so diverse in its climate, geography, and terrain. Simply incredible.
Our airplane sat 18 people. Smallest and sketchiest
airplane I have ever been on!
This was the airport. There was no building.

The jungle tour I went on was called the Pampas tour, and it was based out of a boat. Basically we just floated down a river for three days. Awesome!! I was in a group with eight other people, all from different countries and then of course our tour guide, Jimmy. He was an interesting character. According to him, he grew up in the jungle, the youngest of 17 kids. His father, who is now 99, is the chief of a native tribe, which is located a 14 day walk from Rurrenabaque. His father thought Jimmy was different from his other children so he told him to go into Rurrenabaque (the bustling *read as there are three streets* town of the region) to do bigger and better things.


Getting to the junge was not very easy. It's not called the rainforest for nothing. Even though it is the dry season it rained all day Friday. The road was a mud pit. Although a dirt road, it is a main road and more than once we had to get out of the jeep and watch in awe and terror as double decker buses, huge trucks filled with cargo, and our jeeps tried to maneuver through the chewed up road. I can't believe the large, tall vehicles did't topple over. We arrived at the river and hopped aboard our boat, It was still raining and I think it is fair to say that although excited about being on a boat in the Amazon I was pretty miserable and cold after 2 hours. The river was really high meaning that the usual plethora of animals had dwindled down to a few stragglers. We saw a group of chattering monkeys and lots of birds attempting to dry out their wings. And we saw pink river dolphins. Yup, PINK dolphins. After two hours we got to our accommodations, a cluster of buildings all connected by a series of bridges suspending over the river. Of couse our beds were equipped with mosquito nets– a necessity even with my 98% deet (eek) that I finally "got" to use.


After dinner we went alligator searching. We got back into our tipsy turny boat in search of 1 plus feet long alligators. Crazy, I think so. How we found them: we shone our flashlights out into the bushes and until we saw the reflection of their eyes. Then, Jimmy would putter around, one of the alligators charged at us which I found extremely terrifying.
This guy hung out by our campsite all the time. Don't
fall in the water- otherwise Pepe will get you!

The next morning we went searching for anacondas. And believe it or not: we found one! When I say we, I mean Jimmy found one. The poison isn't lethal, Jimmy told us that if the anaconda bit us it would just really, really hurt, but we wouldn't die. His exact words. So I held the beast. All six feet of it. Now that I am writing this, I can't believe I did that.




Later that day we went fishing for dinner. The
The one that bit me.
fish: piranhas. I didn't catch any, but Jimmy decided that I was going to help gut the fish. The first fish I picked up was still alive and bit me. Typical. So I went to the Amazon and got bit by a piranhas. I think that is pretty cool. Later that night we played volleyball and watched the sun set before going back to camp and cooking our fish.
time for some volleyball!

Catch of the day. Jimmy caught 12 of the 16.

you can't see the dolphins, but they are there!
Our final day was what I had been looking forward to, and really the main reason why I went to the jungle: to swim with the pink river dolphins. I was the first one to take the leap of faith out of our boat into the very muddy river water. The same water where we have been fishing for piranhas, and spotting alligators. Yup, crazy. But the dolphins came and swam around us. Some people were able to hold onto their fins and get pulled around. It was amazing.


Later that day it was back to Rurrenabaque. The next day I flew back to La Paz, got a hotel, and spent about two hours trying to consolidate all my stuff into my backpack. It didn't work.

And now for more photos:
poor birdy trying to dry his wings out

a very big bird!

DOLPHIN.
Jimmy searching for anacondas.
beautiful birds!
mud, mud, mud

Oh yeah, this happened. Here I am wrestling
the anaconda.

 

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