The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Days 55-56, The Selva

The following takes place between Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22, 2011

As if three days covered in mud, mosquitos, and swamp water wasn’t enough, I had signed up to take off on the two day trip into the Selva or Bolivian Amazon jungle tour immediately after the end of the Pampas tour. Mind you, I did get one nights sleep in a hostel. But there’s something to be said about filling your time up too much. With the tour to Tihuanaku, the City Tour, and the Pampas before, I was pretty much exhausted.

Sadly, I think this really played a factor in my enjoyment of the Selva.

I awoke pretty early, and without the aid of an alarm clock. After showering and getting dressed, I made sure Stav and Slim were up as well as they had an early flight to catch. We enjoyed a simple breakfast before saying our goodbyes. Considering they’re doing a trip similar to mine, I won’t be too surprised to run into the two of them again sometime.

I walked down the street, picking up some more mosquito spray at a local farmacia, and arrived at the Indigena Tours main office. As the rain poured down, I chatted with the small group of people that were there, including a guy from Australia named Pickles. I’m starting to wonder if anyone in Australia goes by their birth name ever. Through chatting though, I realized quickly that I was the only one there that was going to the Selva. Everyone else was going to the pampas.

Not too long after I figured it out myself one of the workers at the tour office informed me that I would be joining a group from a different tour company and that the motorcycle out front was there to take me to the boat. This was my first time on a motorcycle so, without a helmet, I hung onto the bars on the back tight as we zoomed through the bumpy streets onto the riverbank.

The boat ride was a tad bit miserable as I was at the front of the boat, along with another Australian named Cameron. While the boat had a tarp roof on it, that doesn’t stop the rain coming in on an angle as the boat speeds down the river for three hours. I IMG_1652did manage to catch a few winks.

We arrived at our destination and everyone grabbed a couple bags of food to carry along the trail into the jungle and to the camp. There were nine of us altogether. Three were doing a four day trek which would have them camping under tarps for the last two nights deep in the jungle. Two, including Cameron, were doing the three day tour. And the remaining four of us were doing the two day tour.

After settling in and having a quick lunch, where I learned I am the only IMG_1658one that is not completely fluent in Spanish, all but the four dayers set out on a four hour trek through the jungle. Now, my Spanish has improved since I’ve been in South America but I am still nowhere near to the point that I can have a full out conversation completely in spanish. I still do the mental translation in my head and have to think carefully on how to respond in the right tense and verb form. So, the guide decided to make Cameron translate everything that he said. Feeling like an outcast, and not exactly wanting to make Cameron do extra work, I just told Cameron to not worry about it. I’ll just enjoy the scenery.

With the rain, even with the dense jungle, the ground was still very muddy and it IMG_1668didn’t take long for my shoes to be caked in mud, my socks to be soaked, and bottom half of my pants to be muddy as well. The walk was nice though. While I only managed to catch what the guide said every so often regarding the different plants, I still enjoyed it to an extent. At least until I stopped to take a picture of a hanging vine only to realize that I had stopped right along an army of ants path. A few minutes later, walking down the trail, I suddenly felt the pain of dozens of little ants biting me. They hurt like a bitch.

At least two others got bit as well so I didn’t feel like a complete tool suddenly wIMG_1676hacking my leg and pulling my pants up to smash the little devils before they could inflict more pain. Thank God they weren’t the Fire Ants though. We did stumble across a trail of them.

The whole diversity of plants within the jungle is amazing. From trees whose roots create walls that are taller than a man; to trees that can uproot themselves and move to a new spot when they get to big; to a tree whose sap is so full of calcium and iron that not only does it look like milk, the natives actually use it as a substitute for milk.

By the end of the trek though I was exhausted and collapsed in my mosquito net covered bed for a nap, almost missing supper. This is probably the moment I realized I wasn’t going to enjoy this trip as much as the Pampas. Not only was the group going on and on in rapid Spanish during the first trek, but they had all completely forgotten about me when supper came. I sat and ate in silence as they talked. I caught a few words here and there, but I was just too tired to be able to concentrate enough to catch much more than that. I went to bed pretty much immediately after.

IMG_1691The next day we had another three hour trek to do before the four of us on the two day tour would leave. Much like the day before we saw the same types of plants. This time, as it was much earlier in the day and not raining as much, we even caught some glimpses of animals including some monkeys, some macaws, and a small herd of wild boar that came super close to us before the winds changed and they caught our scent and took off. That was really cool.

We even caught glimpses of this one type of butterfly that has the silver and blue IMG_1702metallic looking wings that shine brilliantly in the sun. The damn things were too fast though to take a picture. The guide even found us a huge termite mound and showed us the tracks the insects built up the tree. The look like veins made of mud. When you open one up, you can see a trail of termites going up and down the tree. Then, to my surprise, he got some on his fingers and ate them. When in Rome! So I did it too. Hard to really pinpoint the taste. Kinda like peanuts but not really.

IMG_1685Once again, we got back to camp exhausted. I packed up my bag and joined everyone for lunch. However, inside the kitchen cabin, somehow a large Amazon wasp had gotten stuck. I am insanely afraid of bees, wasps and hornets so I kept my eye on it the entire meal as it repeatedly bounced against the mosquito net trying to get out. And then it happened. I lost sight of it for a brief second. At the same time, a large moth flew towards my face. I didn’t see a moth though. I saw a large flying insect. I reacted faster than my brain could identify what it was. All I know is that I lost sight of where the wasp was and now something was flying towards me.

I screamed.

I flailed my arms in front of my, flinging my plate across the room.

I kicked, pushing the guy beside me off the bench in my attempt to get away. I ended up not only bruising my knee on the bottom of the table, but getting a nice long scrape on it as well from a broken piece of wood portruding from the table leg.

All this occured in about three seconds. When it was over, and my breathing had returned to normal I noticed everyone looking at me like I had gone insane. Cameron looked at me bewildered. “It was only a moth Corey.” 

I finally saw the wasp again, still on the other side of the room. All I did was point to it and say “Phobia.” No one needed to know English to understand that. And when they saw the size of the wasp, concern for my sanity turned to a concern to get rid of the wasp.

I was happy to be on the boat back to Rurrenabaque soon after. I had had enough encounters with giant and stinging insects to last me awhile.

1 comment:

  1. I can totally picture that whole episode in my head. I hope you can laugh at it now. I'm sure that will be a storey your travelling companions will tell over and over. I think Uncle Bob and Aunty Helen are somewhere in Chile right now. Although I'm sure you won't run into them camping in the rain forrest. Keep up with the blog. It's great to read and when you are home I'm sure you'll be glad you took the time to write about your adventures. Maybe a book??? Take care. I'll try to watch for you on skype. Love Aunty Gayle