February 14th, 2008

Fourteenth report from Peru.

Jim and I spent the past two days on a jungle tour. Before I was wishing we had been able to arrange a longer tour but thankfully it was only two days. We booked this trip in LaPaz at the travel agent at the Raddison Hotel and I don´t think they have any idea what they are selling. Also they charged more that twice as much as we would have paid had we booked the tour here. On the good side, Jim and I were the only two people on the tour and we had a boat and a boat driver, a cook and Roberta who had an official guide tag but when Jim actually read it, it said it was a temporary guide license. He was knowledgable but didn´t have any english and no ready smile or enthusiasm to make up for that. After a grueling four and a half hour boat trip up a huge River (the River Beni a tributary of the Amazon) we arrived at our lodge. We both were suffering from numb Bums, The lodge was very primitive and looked like no one had stayed there for a long time. A filty,doorless pit privy with no way to wash up, ladderless sleeping quarters, two ripped hammocks etc etc etc. And today after two showers and having my laundry done I am still being bitten and took more stuff to the laundry. Anyways after the grueling boat trip we set off hiking through the jungle. Roberta said at the start that no touch trees. Ants very very poisonous today and then something about 12 hours. If you get bitten you have twelve hours to get help, in twelve hours you died or in twelve hours the pain stops. Who knows what he was aying but since Jim did get bitten yesterday and is still alive today I suspect it was the last scenerio. At the time I presumed the first scenerio. Anyways I tried to follow very very closely to Roberto and we snuck around the jungle for three and a half hours. Then we had supper and had to go out in the pitch dark with our tiny head lamps and hike about the jungle in the dark for over an hour! I was so scared. I tried to reason with myself. I´m not scared on airplanes and they could crash, if I got eaten by a jungle animal I wouldn´t be around to worry etc etc. Every time a branch snapped, I was scared. In the afternoon we´d seen lots of recent tracks for Tapir, Puma, Ocelots, Wild Pigs, giant Armadilo etc etc etc.- Anyways I survived the ordeal. Yesterday I tried to get an idea of the plan for the day but no luck from Roberto who said nonunderstandable things in Spanish. Really hard when you want to find out stuff but both the question and the answers never fit. So off we set again through the jungle. This time we were bush wacking. So much for the poisonous ants and hence Jim´s several painful bites. Despite the heat and it was miserable I kept my bug suit on. Too bad I didn´t wear it to bed as maybe it would have stopped all the bed bug bites! Anyways after three hours we were so hot and tired. After four hours we were worse. And then Roberto said one minmento and left us and Jim and I were all alone in the jungle while Roberto disappeared trying to find the way. After what seemed like an eternity I said to Jim that Roberto had five more minutes and if he didn´t reappear in that time I was going to scream! Scream we did and eventually Roberto reappeared. Then he said one momento again. No way I said. and I insisted that even if we didn´t have any path and were lost at least we weren´t loosing the guide again and Jim and I stuck with Roberto no matter what he wanted. Eventually we did find a way back to our lodge. Despite it´s sorry state I was some glad to be ¨HOME¨.

Last night in Rurrenabaque as we were entering our room for the next couple of days there was a large teranchila on the path! Seems that even though we are no longer in the jungle, we still have some jungle creatures!