Friday, April 10, 2009

BOLIVIA continued...

- POTOSI (27.03.09 - 29.03.09)
We left Uyuni and took a bus to Potosi - once the capital of Bolivia. Still at high altitude (therefore still feeling somewhat sick) we toured the town, the Bolivian Money Museum and the mines. I thoroughly enjoyed having a drink in a bar playing Led Zeppelin! We spent one day in the neighbouring town of Sucre, which is a very pretty town with only white buildings. We enjoyed a fruitshake on the top of the hill with the view of the town. Having had enough of altitude sickness, we didnt waste time and headed to the present day capital the next morning.

- LA PAZ (30.03.09 - 01.04.09)
We spent one day in La Paz touring the markets and spinning around town looking for a tourist information point! We had an exceptionally luxurious breakfast for 32 Bolivianos (approx. 3 euros)! We went to a reggae bar at night and headed off to the Amazonian jungle after two nights in La Paz.

- RURRENABAQUE (02.04.09 - 09.04.09)
Welcome to the jungle! The climate changed from high altitude to lowland tropical rainforest humidity. After a 24 hour VERY BUMPY bus journey we arrive in Rurre (pronounced Ruge). A small village on the edge of the river Madidi (meaning river that zigzags). We are set for 4 days in the jungle camping. We find the best tour agency - Mogli Tours and set off on a boat through the orange-brown sand coloured river, through the mountains and up to a little community living in the middle of a national park. Our guide - Faiser - welcomes us by exclaming "Ah I am home! In the jungle where the life of the tourist is worth nothing!". Merrily, we decide to stay an extra day (5 in total) in order to reach greater jungle depths and have the opportunity to see more animals. In there we were surrounded by monkeys, bears, pumas, jaguars and MOSQUITOS! My god how many bites we have and are still itching from despite having eaten garlic, lemon and drenching ourselves in DEET mosquito repellent. But it was fantastic. The first night we had a traditional indigenous ceremony to Pachamama to give us good luck on the excursion, to discover that the campsite that we built ourselves out of wood found in the trees and creating ropes from lianas, was attacked by a whole colony of red giant ants which were eating away at our mosquito nets, the plastic and our bags and clothes! Frantically we had to remove everything while trying to not get bitten. Our guide and the cook got the machete out to clear some land a few meters away where we had to set up our new camp in the middle of the night in absolute darkness! It was hilarious - a great start to the jungle!
During the day we all walked in a line behind our guide who was clearing the way with the machete and stopping from time to time when we smelt or heard an animal. We all stop alert, waiting for an animal response after our indegenous guide, who grew up in the jungle, cries out an imitation of some kind of animal. We learned about the medicinal plants and got up at 4am in order to see the monkeys, we bathed in the river, had an open fire meal, swung on some lianas like tarzan to cross a river, sometimes having to walk straight through knee high waters... we saw wild pigs, all sorts of birds and frogs and heard the cry of the jaguar in the distance. It was wild, hot, smelly but an absolutly amazing experience! We made jewelery out of the semillas and coconuts we found there, the guys ate self-fished pirahnas and we all drank fresh water out of a tree trunk, and ate jungle mangoes and cocoa straight from the trees. We didnt want to leave! Although I was very glad to have a proper shower! And we were so lucky yet again to have not had any rain - except on our last day whilst walking back to the boat - it poured it down with tropical storm and we were drenched! The best, the best...
and in the town of Rurre there was a French baker who made proper pain au chocolat and croissant and an American who made brownies and banana cake. We were happy all around! We went out with our tour guides at night and left the next day back to La Paz - where I am now.

We are to be joined by Nathalie's friend from Africa called Yansk tonight. So from now on we are going to be four girls in Bolivia heading to Lake Titicaca!

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