Jungle Love, It’s Drivin´ Me Mad

January 8th

Hello friends! I write to you from Rurrenabaque, a small jungle town about 18-48 hours (depending on rain, roads, floods, animal crossings, fallen trees, breakdowns, deaths etc.) from La Paz.

Rurrenabaque

Rurrenabaque

What an adventure it has been this past week, starting with a day-long mountain biking expedition down the ¨most dangerous road in the world¨, where allegedly 300 people die per year on average. But really, what is a statistic? The views were incredible and the badass Rocky Mountain bikes, handmade in Canada, were fit to ride over rocks of any size and through precipitation of any kind. Don´t worry, Mom, I wore a helmet.

8 am views at the top of The Most Dangerous Road

8 am views at the top of The Most Dangerous Road

steep cliffs and 3-meter-wide dirt paths add the the rush of adrenaline as we speed down

steep cliffs and 3-meter-wide dirt paths add to the adrenaline rush

But I'll know my song well before I start singin'...a hard rain's gonna fall

But I'll know my song well before I start singin'...a hard rain's gonna fall

The real adventure, however, was not the perilous ride down the narrow dirt paths on plunging cliff edges, it was what happened when we got the bottom:

We waded through 3 feet of muddy waters with our bikes on our back, then watched this idiot truck attempt to scoop the water out for two hours to clear the flood.

We waded through 3 feet of muddy waters with our bikes on our back, then watched this idiot truck attempt to scoop the water out for two hours to clear the flood.

Rainy season had gotten the best of us. We waited drenched in mud and rain as the most inefficient method of dealing with flooded roads was enabled so that the van carrying our packs could get across. You’d think that after years of rainy seasons and floods someone would have the ingenious idea of building a bridge. C’est la vie. I got through it by hallucinating that I was in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and that the muddy flood was the chocolate stream Augustus Gloop fell into. Attempting to re-tell this entire episode is difficult and I now realize that there is no way to describe the scale of the flood or how defeated by Mother Nature I felt at the time. Perhaps the magnitude can be realized by quoting one of our guides; ¨The greatest adventure I´ve ever had in all my years on the Road of Death!¨ Eh- that still didn’t do it. But you catch my drift.

The road cleared out after 2 agitating hours of watching the monster vehicle essentially claw the water out of the ditch and we headed to our hotel. Boy were we in for a treat. Now imagine (since I was too busted to take any pictures) a balcony looking out into the mountains and subtropical valleys of the Yungas, surrounded by jungle flora and fauna, flush with greenery of incredible diversity, all right at my fingertips. It had just stopped raining and same mystical clouds that had been at Machu Picchu were clearing to reveal rugged landscape of epic proportions. Phantasmorphic! I would also like to mention that our hotel had a pool, sauna, hammocks, bar, and rum that flowed like…like the flooded river we had just crossed. It was a beautiful night.

And so, my friends, the next day we continued on our merry way to Rurrenabaque, the jungle town I write to you from today, to pursue our journey onwards to the Amazon Basin- a 7 hour trip outside Rurrenabaque (4 hours down a dirt road in a Land Cruiser and 3 hours by motorized canoe) to a barebones eco-lodge where we lay in hammocks by day and snuggled under mosquito nets by night. Here are some things we saw on the way:cecilia-009cecilia-003

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Our mode of transportation for the 3 day Pampas tour. Tomas sports the shirtless oil mogul look.

Our mode of transportation for the 3 day Pampas tour. Tomas sports the shirtless oil merchant look.

After wildlife-spotting along the river in our canoe, we traipsed the Pampas the following day in search of anacondas and cobras. cecilia-018

and then had some brewskies at a makeshift bar on the river:cecilia-005

ahem. “Cold beer”…really? Do you even have electricity for “cold” beer?

as we watched the sunset:

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January 10th

Hola Chicos! I am now back in good ol’ crazy La Paz after a good ol’ crazy bus ride in a schoolbus-come-chickenbus autobus. I was promised a luxury coach bus with reclining seats for the 24 hour ride, but hey what can you do when a spray-painted rickety near-jalopy shows up instead? My so-called panoramic window seat had me shoved up against the side in the back right over the rear wheel, tailbone digging into the steel rod in the seat cushion. I did notice, however, that while the bus was chock full o’ Bolivian children, not one of them were complaining or crying the way it would have been in America. I’m never whining about the 4 hour Chinatown bus from NYC to Boston again. But I’ll continue to complain about this bus-  my favorite part is waking up in the middle of the night to realize my ass is flying 2 feet in the air as we go over a bump! It’s all part of the adventure :::sigh::: At least we circumvented the fate of this bus a few kms ahead of us…

The tragic but inevitable fate of every long distance bus in Bolivia. This happened only a few kilometers ahead of us- 5 fatalities.

The tragic but inevitable fate of every long distance bus in Bolivia. Apparently it's a bi-weekly event. This happened only a few kilometers before our bus rolled around- there were 5 deaths.

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~ by ceciliabien on January 11, 2009.

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