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Welcome to the Jungle!

Written on: Tuesday December 18th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

Author: Julie 

Hola! 

The past few days have been uneventful. We?ve met up with Mark and Maxine for lunch and supper while spending the time in between walking around town. We did finally decide on our next destination with a little help from them. We are going to spend Christmas time in the northern Amazonian rainforest near the little town of Rurrenabaque, Bolivia.  

They had booked a three day boat trip down the river from Coroico, Bolivia to Rurrenabaque but it was cancelled at the last minute when a couple of other passengers bailed. The only other option was to fly from La Paz to Rurre (as it?s known in Bolivia). We went with them to the travel agency to book our flights and found out that there were only 2 seats available for the next day for them but we could fly out a day later. We paid our 1000 Bolivianos and walked away quite happily to the idea that we would be somewhere warm very soon. 

We returned to our hostel that evening to find out they were closing tomorrow for the holiday season. For our last night in La Paz, we would need to find new accommodations. We decided to move into Mark and Maxine?s hostel across from San Francisco church. It was pricier than what we were paying but it was close to where we were already and a night in a nice hotel with a TV, private bathroom and blow dryer was worth it.  

The next day we checked out of Arty?s and into Hotel Naira. We spent our day running last minute errands like shipping home clothes we didn?t want to carry with us anymore, gifts for our families, and little receipts and documents we wanted to keep as memories. The prices in Bolivia were much cheaper than Peru and we were able to send a 4kg box home for 40$, which is more than half price than we would have paid in Lima. Anyone want us to send them alpaca wool toques, mitts, socks, or blankets? Now, we wait to find out that it made it home. Maybe the cheap price was because it only makes it half the way there. 

The day passed by quickly and we ended our night tucked in bed watching TV and preparing for our flight the next day. Our 7 AM wake-up call came quickly and we packed up, had our free delicious breakfast of yogurt, cereal, fruit, bread, and scrambled eggs. At 9 AM, we grabbed a taxi for 45bs to the airport located in the Alto section of La Paz. As mentioned in a previous entry, the rich of La Paz live in lower section of the valley while the poor live in the elevated area where the oxygen is poorer and more polluted. El Alto is where the main bulk of the city?s poor live, it is located on a plateau above the valley. This is also where the airport is located. We arrived one hour before our plane was scheduled to depart. We quickly checked-in, paid our airport fees of 14bs and walked to our departure gate. The TV announcing departure times kept advertising that our flight was boarding but the flight was never announced and there was no one at our departure gate. We finally met with an airline representative who informed us that our flight was delayed pending weather conditions. We weren?t surprised since we had been warned that this might happen. The flight to Rurre in the rain season is erratic at best. The weather conditions make it very difficult to fly over the clouds and mountains; as well the runway in Rurre is a grassy strip that can?t be landed during rain. It becomes too muddy and slippery for a safe landing. 

Time passed by as we sat in the departure lounge. It was close to 3 PM when we were finally allowed to board the plane, 4 hours later than our scheduled departure. By then, the anti-anxiety pill I had taken had worn off. I hate to fly in the best of times but when I saw the itty-bitty plane we would be taking and hearing that the flying conditions were iffy, I became extremely nervous and took a pill to calm myself down, thinking we would be boarding sooner than later. Anyhow, we walked out of the gate, onto the tarmac to our waiting plane. It seated 18, looked like a Concord airplane except with propellers, and the cockpit was open to the passengers. Our plane departed into cloud heavy skies and we spent the next hour bumping up and down in heavy turbulence. My first sight of the Bolivian rainforest, with a large brown river winding through, was a welcomed sight for I knew we would be landing very soon and this roller coaster ride would come to an end.  

We landed quite softly and we disembarked to near 100% humidity. Within a few minutes we were both covered in sweat from head to toe. Here was the heat we couldn?t wait to feel after days in the Andean highlands. Our bags were quickly unloaded from the nose of the plane and we boarded the small Amazonas shuttle bus to the city center of Rurre. It let us off in front of the Amazonas office and who was waiting for us at the bar next door but Mark and Maxine. They had found a nice little hostel for us at a decent price. We walked over, checked in to our room and quickly changed into shorts and t-shirts. It was uncomfortably warm and humid in the bolivian rainforest. We were anxious to see what this little town was so we spent a couple of hours of walking around the 6 block radius of the center area. We stopped at the river and watched the swollen waters rush by with large amounts of floating debris. Small boats would leave one side of the river, motor up a ways then cut across the current to the other side. With all the large fallen trees and branches floating in the water, this was a very difficult manoeuvre and we could tell the drivers were experts at this.

 After a nice supper at a small local restaurant, we stopped at the main gringo bar called the Mosquito Bar. It was mostly decorated with bamboo and dried creeper vines. The tables and seats were made with large blocks of wood that had been cut from huge Ficus trees. We spent a late night there enjoying our first day in the jungle, drinking fruit cocktails and the local beer. We slept that night under one bed sheet with a large fan swirling overhead.