The Road to Rurrenabaque parte dos: Las Pampas, day two
Early in the morning I woke up to the craziest noises. It sounded like low, bellowing growls coming from the trees and soon enough I caught a few howler monkeys swinging on branches across the water. I stretched and headed to the back porch to take in the lovely morning. Our ‘backyard’ was alive with birds chirping and capybaras playing in the wetlands.
[capybaras are the largest, and I’d say cutest species of rodents]
After a plentiful breakfast, we embarked on our anaconda search. Yes, we actually were choosing to put on gum boots [rain boots] and scour through the tall grass fields looking for snakes. If you don’t know me, snakes are the one thing I fear. I cannot stand their slither-like approach and long tongues and avoid confrontations whenever possible aka every snake charmer in India. My 5th grade science teacher kept one in his classroom and the smell still haunts me. Without question I threw on my boots and jumped in the boat ready to tackle on my fear. We headed over to small landing with a bare-to-nothing shack to greet a smiling toothless local. We exchanged hellos and took off into the grasslands. We spread out, Jesus carried a machete and warned us to move slow as not to scare the snakes. The two other girls and I often shrieked when our boots sunk into the dark, muddy waters and after a half hour or so we decided to team up and stay together. We were chatting away enjoying the sunshine and trying to forget what we were actually there for when something large, brown, and thick shook the tall grass near me. I screamed and tried to yell for the boys, but unfortunately they were deep in the thicket and could not hear me. The girls and I had no intention of further investigating and when one of the guys arrived they couldn’t find my almost new friend. Not much longer after that we gave up and played a game of fútbol before climbing back on the boat. I’ll chalk that up to a once in a lifetime experience that I’m glad to never try again.
[my game face for anacondas]
We had an hour to kill before lunch and since it was such a hot, sunny day we decided to go swimming. Amongst the gators, piranhas, dolphins, and everything else that lives in that murky water, we swam and swung off ropes near a lodge that Jesus ensured us of safe waters.
Back at the lodge we relaxed with Felipe and scarfed down another delicious lunch. That afternoon we would take our chance at piranha fishing. Ryan and I decided to skip out on the actual fishing but went along for the ride. We drove through the beautiful backwaters and river overflow only accessible after the rainy season. I felt like I was placed in the dinosaur age waiting for a brontosaurus to appear from the trees. It was a relaxing, enjoyable time but unfortunately the group didn’t catch a single fish.
After dinner we sat in the hammock/tv room sipping on beers watching La Copa América before climbing into bed. For our final day we’d be swimming with the pink dolphins we’ve been continuously seeing on the boat rides. Jesus took us to another overflow section of the river where the blind river dolphins hang out. Upon arriving we immediately saw a few swimming in the area. We jumped off the boat and waited for them to greet us. These Amazon pink river dolphins like ‘sniffing’ out their intruders and the best way to pet them is to wait in the dirty, murky water and hope they’ll swim up to you. Ryan was of course in the water first when one brushed by his leg. After treading for a few minutes one came up to me and I shrieked as its slimy body circled me and I happily pet a dolphin for the first time. The group of young english boat next to us were not so confident about the darkness of the water and we laughed as they quickly climbed back into the boat. After twenty, thirty minutes of treading Ryan got a nice nibble on his foot. Apparently they enjoy to bite their new friends to show their playfulness. It was an incredible experience minus the dirty, polluted water. While swimming I felt woozy from breathing in the oil that sat on the water. This swimming adventure may be the culprit of Ry and I’s upcoming flu that knocked us out for a few days, but that’s a different story of the trip.
Jesus took us back to the lodge for one last time and we packed up and waved goodbye to Felipe. We had a two hour boat ride back to the main dock and took in all the beautiful sites and animals for one last time. The Amazon was a must-see on my South American adventure and although I barely scratched its massive surface, Bolivia’s pampas is a place I’ll never forget.
Ryan and I debated our options of getting back to La Paz and we decided to spend the little extra on flying back to La Paz to save time. Our bus journey was successful the first time around and we didn’t want to push our luck. We’d spend another night in Rurre, visit our favorite restaurant Pete’s Place and relax in a big, nice room with tv and beers. We had first visited Pete’s Place after booking our jungle tour and taking a nice climb to a view point of the city. I made friends with their young son who shared his toys with me as we chatted in Spanish about his school, helicopter, and ghosts while waiting for dinner. Because I entertained him for our entire visit they treated us with hot tea at the end of the meal. We ate vegan burgers, and grilled eggplant before taking off for our flight, said our g’byes and thank yous, and promised to write a review for the business [read more about Pete’s on my Vegan Eats in Bolivia].
In this small jungle town consists of two airlines, both of which you check-in at the office in town. After doing so we decided to grab beers and walk around with time to kill. We passed a little shop selling toys and Ryan immediately found a bag of plastic military toys that our new friends would love. I never got the full story, but I believe he was living with his Aunt and Uncle while his mother and or farther was studying/working in La Paz. His younger cousin was there as well and they’d play with their few toys and big imaginations. We purchased the toys and made our way back to the restaurant. We found the boys running around with their neighbor playing some type of chase game. I told him we had a gift for them and his face lit up. They ran over to a table and we opened up the bag for them. Out came more helicopters, planes, and army men, and funny enough a map of the Middle East with flags to play on. The family was beyond thankful and the boys as well. We said goodbye again and left grinning from ear to ear.
[Rurrenabaque from above]
[the boys enjoying their new toys]
When the shuttle pulled up, we learned we’d be charged for the ride to the airport and Ryan and I chose to hop on a mototaxi for a quicker, cheaper trip. The ‘airport’ consisted of a tiny building with a few desks, chairs, and a metal detector. A small restaurant sat across the dirt path and a little girl ran up to greet us as we sat sipping beers waiting for the shuttle bus. She picked at all my bracelets, dug into my backpack whilst slyly asking to have every piece. The bus pulled in and we lined up inside. They forced us to pay an airport tax and a city tax then the one security guard barely sifted through our bags and let us pass. The same shuttle bus was boarded back up and drove us down the runaway to await for the plane. The tiny propeller plane landed on the runway then we watched the new tourists de-board the plane, taking in the green jungle that now surrounded them. More time passed and we soon learned our flight would not be taking off tonight. The sun was setting and they couldn’t fly in the dark. You’d think they’d plan the flight times better if this were the case, but it’s Bolivia and you just have to accept it. We returned back to town to find out our flight would take off at 6am the following morning. Ryan and I checked back into the same room and immediately set off for Pete’s. We returned to the boys still playing with their new toys and they were glad to see us. Before dawn we peeled ourselves out of bed to do the same thing all over again. Soon enough our tiny plane took off and we were glued to the window. High above the trees we soared over the dense, green jungle, rivers, and half way through the snow-capped mountains appeared. It was a quick 45minute flight, but breathtaking. From the airport we walked to find a cab to the teleférico and zipped back down into the crazy, busy city of La Paz returning to the same hotel as before.
Animals, boats, and loads of relaxing what more could we want in a trip, the Pampas turned out to be another great adventure and a great way to wrap up our time in Bolivia.
Cheers and happy weekend all x