Pampas & Beer

So besides drinking fresh squeezed OJ and watching babies ride on motorcycles, I also went on a pampas tour in Rurrenabaque. There are two basic options for treks in Rurrenabaque, pampas or jungle. Pampas involves riding a boat down the river and seeing wildlife. Jungle has more trekking and more jungle, obviously, but not as much wildlife. I opted for pampas because I like monkeys and the thought of sitting in a boat sounded lovely. And maybe I could get a tan. Score.

Before I left for my tour, I somehow had to find a bathing suit. I accidently left mine drying on the top of my hostel in Arequipa. whooops. La Paz didnt have many options…seeing as its freezing and nowhere near a body of water. I assumed Rurre would have more options…I found one lady selling bathing suits. Used, mismatched, old bathing suits probably from travelers who accidently left theirs drying on top of a hostel. I found a supperrrr stylish one and paid about $7. She definitely thought she was ripping me and demand is a dirty whore sometimes.

The next morning, my group left for the river. We were a 6 person group. Everyone was between 21 and 28. There was the Aussie couple; funny, kind, and kinda stupid. Then three German girls who were surprisingly reserved. I like my Germans like I like my men, with a beer in hand. They also spoke better Spanish that English which was equally odd.

After a bumpy 2 hour car ride, with our first sloth sighting, we made it to the river. The boat was long and narrow with some seats jimmyrigged on the inside. Our tour guide/boat driver sat in the back steering while we looked in awe at the wildlife and nature. Within seconds of getting the boat started, we had our first sighting…a crocodile hanging out on shore about 20 feet away.

Immediately, all of our cameras were out, fascinated that this incredible animal was so close and wasnt behind some sort of fence at the zoo. (At least thats what I was thinking). Little did we know, that was the first of hundreds of crocodiles we would see over the next three days.

And to be more specific, what we were looking at was Caiman, apparently less aggressive than other crocodiles. They still had big teeth and looked scary, so I wasnt exactly convinced.

During our boat ride to our lodge, we saw lots of Caiman, monkeys, birds, and capybara. The capybara were my favorite. They look exactly like guinea pigs except they are like 100 times bigger. Theyre the size of a large pig. According to Wiki, they are the largest rodent in the world. Awesome.

Actually I lied. The capybara werent my favorite…the pink river dolphins were. They didnt exactly look pink to me, more whitish, but they were so beautiful. At one point, our guide stopped and we watched about 5 or 6 swim around in this tiny area. He oferred us the opportunity to swim with them. He told us that when the dolphins are in the water, the crocs stay on the shore. Hmmmmm. I dont know about that. We were all too scared to swim the first day, but the next day the Aussies and I hopped in. No one got eaten by a crocodile.

Our lodge was nice. They were dorm style rooms, complete with mosquito nets. Mine had a hole that was patched with bandaids, so I still sprayed bug spray before bed.

The next day, we got up early and hopped in the boat to see the sunrise. Wow, I have seriously maxed out the number of sunrises one person should see in 2 months.

After an incredible breakfast, we put on our knee high rubber boots and went out searching for anacondas. Its amazing the things gringos will pay money to do. We walked for a few hours in waist high swamp brush, with our boots sinking into nasty swampy mud. Unforutnately, we didnt find an anaconda, but we did find another snake. Poor snakey, he was in his last moments of life, having just been bitten by a hawk of some kind. The guides kept calling it a Cobra Falsa (fake cobra). Apparently it wasnt dangerous…I stayed a safe distance.

Next came Pirana fishing. AWESOME. Our bait was raw beef. These are some well fed piranas. We didnt have fishing poles, just a string with a hook on the end. I only ended up catching a different kind of fish (cant remember the name), but we ended up using it for bait to catch more piranas so I felt accomplished. We ate them with dinner that night…quite delicious.

For sunset, we went to another location. A bunch of groups also came over because of the great view and the fact that this little river hut sells beer. There was a volleyball net and a soccer field. Playing soccer with South Americans? Huh, I bet theyre not aggressive at all. It should just be a little pick up game….so I thought. I am also a fool. After about 15 minutes of intense play, including some header goals and other nonesense, I decided my knee and I had enough. I told the main guy on my team I was going to take a break, so maybe they could grab another player. Im pretty sure he didnt even realize I was still playing…No need for a gringa. Shucks.

We made our way back to Rurre the next day, where I counted only one bug bite. Success!

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