As you may know from previous postings, I decided to take advantage of the the downtime between Christmas and New Years by taking a quick 4-day trip up to Rurrenabaque in Northern Bolivia, a jumping-off point for tours to the Bolivian Amazon basin. After much wrangling and dithering I finally secured a flight for first thing Sunday morning via Amaszonas, a tiny regional carrier. So I found myself at at La Paz airport at 05:15 on Sunday, bleary eyed and unprepared for the 2-hour wait which ensued. Patience was tested but eventually we found ourselves on the tiny 20-seater plane (apologies for quality, this is a camera phone picture):
- Seeing more wildlife in three days than I had in three months previously – pink river dolphins, caiman, alligator, egrets, herons, turtles, hawks, huatzin (prehistoric chicken-sized birds) and many more
- Taking the controls of the boat for a bit – my canal barge experience from the UK stood me in good stead – and now I can say I have have piloted a boat in the Amazon (get me)
- Spending a pleasant afternoon fishing – mostly for catfish, which were delicious fried up later – and every so often having to fight off piranhas from stealing our bait
- Going for a swim with pink river dolphins nearby – in the same caimain and piranha infested river
- Going for a shower back at the camp – and having both a toad and a tree frog for company
- Burning through 16GB of memory cards on my SLR. And then deleting most of it, as there are only so many pictures of panicked birds’ arses that one needs in life.
Speaking of pictures, of course I have a few to hand:
Just a quick one from the tour agency computer to say I have landed safely and am about to embark on a 3 day tour of the
pampas in the Bolivian Amazon. I have no cell coverage here and there will be no internet or telephone where I am staying (an eco lodge) so I will be out of contact for the next 3 days. I am taking a tour with Bala Tours and it should be really good.
In what is becoming a theme of this trip, I was out in La Paz last night, and had to get up at stupid o'clock this morning to be at the airport by 5:15AM for my flight up north to Rurrenabaque. This time is slightly less traumatic, with 3 hours' sleep fuelling a very short (50 minute) flight. It beats 0 hours' sleep and a 12- or 18-hour journey by a fair way. So maybe I am (slowly) learning from my past errors of judgement?
These are a few shots of Lake Titicaca from yesterday. More to come when time and internet connections allow.
We are on the bus back from Titicaca to La Paz, which traverses the scrub plains of the Altiplano. Along the way has been a constant stream of unimaginable poverty. At the beginning of the trip, entire Aymara families camped by the side of the road, with wretchedly miserable children holding out tiny hands in hopeless solicitation as buses like ours raced past them, oblivious and without a thought of stopping. That was before we got out onto the Altiplano proper and the storm hit. Our biggest problems have been a leaky bus and a washed-out road. Whereas, outside, for mile upon mile, hundreds of small blue bumps in fields by the side of the road revealed themselves to be groups of two, three, four or more Indians huddled under tarpaulins, shivering in the mud, wind, and rain, trying to keep an eye on the one or two pathetic farm animals nearby. Soon, we will be warm houses, while they will likely spend the night filthy, miserable, and cold.And it’s Christmas Eve.