Jungle Boogie

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jan 20, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, November 29, 2007

The jungle. Marvellous. I haven't shaved for several weeks. I thought I would aim for some sort of Kurtz effect when I arrived. Not entirely convincingly. For a start Kurtz was living in Africa. Or possibly somewhere up the Mekong Delta. These things are unclear. Nonetheless, it wasn't South America. Conrad's South America novel was, of course, Nostromo, which I've never read. But will do. Soon. Also, one of the lodges in which I stayed has kittens. You can't convincingly mumble, "The horror, the horror", whilst stroking a kitten. It doesn't really work. The effect is muted. Still, the other lodge was about four hours up river. Which had some sort of compensatory effect. I could sit in a hammock, and say, "You have a right to kill me. I will grant you that. But you have no right to judge me." If I wanted to.
In any event, back to the start. I arrived in Rurrenabaque airport in a small plane. A minibus with wings. And the airport has a grass runway. Much like the one at Chitwan in Nepal. Except there are cows on the field in Nepal. And, of course, the Nepalese pilot was cool. Or thought he was. Which amounts to not the same thing at all.
Then a night in the town of Rurrenabaque itself. It's fairly small. Lots of travel agencies and bars. And the hotel seemed to have a large supply of ants in the rooms. Can't complain too much. It is, after all, virtually the jungle. And at least my visitors were small and six-legged. The morning after our arrivial, there was a small commotion outside on of the other rooms. It turned out there was a larger animal in there. Hairy. About the size of a saucer. Eight legs. Olé, Tarantula! Sadly, I missed most of it, only noticing a couple of legs as it scurried off to hide behind something. I was playing with a kitten, instead. Which casts some doubt on my use of the word "sadly". Hmmm. Kitten, tarantula. Weigh that one up. It's that game we all love - which do you prefer, giving reasons? Kittens or tarantulas? Kind, gentle, sleek cats or mangy, rabid, evil dogs? Big Ted or Humpty? Gordon Brown or The Little Baby Jesus? Think carefully before answering. Your responses may reveal more about you than you wish to be known...
The trip was in two parts. The pampas part - mostly on a boat along a river, looking at crocodiles, dolphins, birds and capibara, and the rainforest part. Which involved lots of walks in the jungle. Less animals could be seen, but it was far more interesting. And the lodge, Chalalan, is owned by the local community. What could be better? Go and give them your support. Beautiful location, too. Middle of the forest, by a lake. Called Chalan. I believe that translates as "Crystal Lake". But maybe I'm wrong. Possibly, also, there was a young boy who drowned in it, owing to the inattention of the Camp Counsellors. But that seems even less likely. Hockey is not very popular in Bolivia. I managed to swim in the lake, though. Despite the crocodiles. Nice and warm. And the crocs add a certain frisson...
Lots of rain, in both places. So much so that we had to cancel a nighttime jungle walk - couldn't see anything. Which was a shame because the group that went out the following night saw a boa constrictor and several tarantulas. Woo. No kittens, though. Not there, at any rate.
The rain also causes problems with the flights. Given Rurre's grass runway, planes can't take off if it's muddy. So there were delays. Exacerbated by strike action on the dry day. Strikes called by the political right, to oppose the government. What do the Right demand when they strike? Lower wages? Longer working hours? Less safety? In any event, my flight back to La Paz was a day late. And so here I am. In La Paz - the location is a lie. You can't trust anything anymore.
So, to Chile on Saturday. Always moving...
Oh, and was there a football match whilst I was away? I missed it. Anyone know the score....? No criticism of the Ginger Mourinho in these parts...
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