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The Weird and Wonderful Folks of Rurre

Written on: Sunday November 16th, 2008

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

Special mention has to be made of the people who made our time here an "experience".  Some of the people that became part of our daily lives here are...

Rosa Maria, Bolivia´s only eco-warrior and driving force behind the place we volunteered.  A strong minded, completely independent female who has no qualms in exposing environmental wrongs and quite frankly is not very well liked around town for it.    She is a very intelligent lady, speaks excellent english and french and had many interesting tales to tell.

Ron (aka "The Banana Bread Man"), a Californian expat who makes delicious banana bread and granola bars to sell on the street.  Big on religion and conspiracy theories, he uses his contact with tourists to give out pamphlets on the threat of the "new world order" (biochipping being the "mark of the beast", government introduced viruses for population control, global government etc).  You can go to his house and watch lots of these DVDs on his TV.  He is waiting for the UN to take over the world at which time he will move his family into his place set up in the rainforest.  Very interesting ideas...

Theirry the French Baker - turned up to town 5 years ago and has set up shop down a back alley which constantly has a line of locals and tourists every morning.  After months of hard, sweet bread his oven is a little oasis - he makes croissants and quiches too!  He took 80% of Rons customers so needless to say they are not friends.  I experienced one of his fiery rages when our chef forgot to return a baking tray to him and he threatened to not sell us any more bread!!

Street children – families from the last nomadic tribe of the area are displaced from their riverside existence from overfishing, and the kids roam around the town.  They have their own language which sounds a little like Korean.  Most townsfolk don´t treat them any better than dogs.  Our office is one place where they were welcome, they could use the shower (cause boy, they were pretty stinky!) collect the mangos falling from the tree in the back and sometimes seek shelter from the local kids or their drunken elders chasing them.  They were quite adorable - didn´t mean you could trust them though, I always had a good eye on their hands.

The Korean owner of our hotel (I won't try to spell his name) - who when not burning leaves, rubbish (or anything he could find) out the back was sitting on his woven mat watching slasher samurai movies.

Cashiano the sandal man - his house is easy to find, just look for all the huge tyres stacked up outside.  He supplies the town with sandals from used tyres.  He made me a pair in less than an hour, for $3.  He did the heavy cutting and his wife sat beside him to bang in the nails for the straps.  He was amazed to find that we can't get these in NZ or England, and so was I, until I wore them for a day!  I'm sure they will mold to my foot over time.  Most Bolivians look down on tyre sandals though, I noticed even he had leather sandals, which he had re-soled in tyre.

The Navy - when you don't have a sea to protect this is the best place to be!  They hoist the flag every day at 8am to the sound of a patriotic trumpet.  One morning they were doing training marching through the town at 3am, in a town with no windows it feels like they are storming into your bedroom.

The staff at the Monkey Bar, a good spot for half price cocktails in the evening.  I only got concerned about my drinking habit when they started giving me free drinks cause we went there a little too often with our tourist groups fresh off their rainforest tour.

Katrina the young cafe owner from england - we are still wondering how she can cope with life after 5 years in a small Bolivian town.

Add to the mix the chickens with furry feet that would dash through the office, the bats sometimes coasting in and out in the evening looking for their old nest, the 7 year old boy who persistently came by daily at noon trying to sell me chicha (alcohol akin to rocketfuel), an old lady who would turn up to sell 200 oranges every few days, crusty travellers who had no money and would sell jewellery, magic tricks or juggling on the street and of course many street dogs who just loved a little scratch behind the ears and if they were lucky, a bone.

And for a while, two strange kiwis who spoke no spanish and drank too much.