Published: April 6th 2008April 2nd 2008
On the platform
We made it to the bottom - Inside the cave
So when we last left you we were about to make our way from La Paz Bolivia to Bonito Brazil.... we had taken the smart option (or wussed out depending on your point of view) and decided to fly to the border and cut out about 48hrs of bus travel.
Monday started early with a 5:30 pick up at our hotel the girl from the travel agent who booked our flights escorted us to the airport - we´re not quite sure why but we´ve given up trying to work out why over here, it´s easier just to accept. The flight to Santa Cruz and then the flight to Puerto Suarez were uneventful. Then it was a taxi ride to the border (i´m sure we paid too much) and checked out of Boliva. The Lonely planet had told us Brazilian Migration was in Currumba itself and that seemed to be the case. So it was another taxi ride (paid too much again - I suppose they can just spot us sucker gringos) and we ended up at the bus depot in corumba. This doesn´t seem like a popular border crossing as we seemed to be pretty much the only tourists doing
Some Macaws at the Birdcage
it at the time. Now is where it got a little bit interesting.....
The Brazilian migration office (which is conviently located inside the bus depot) closes each day between 11:30 and 2pm. We arrived at 11:45. Our bus (the only bus to Bonito) left at 2pm.... no problem everyone assured us so we sat down to wait (you can´t buy your bus ticket until your passport has been stamped). at 1pm a que started to form at the migration office - we joined it not wanting to be the only ones left out but we were quite away back. It was at this point that we thought that we should check again with the bus company that everything was going to be ok - as our maths said that if the office opened a 2pm it would take us at least 15mins to get all the paperwork done and then we would be 15mins late for the bus... This time it was a problem!!! No the bus certainly can´t wait!! sh*t!!!
Now we had dilegently tried to learn spanish before we came, and we had been hoping that the fact that not many people understood us in spanish
A toucan at the Rio Prata lunch area
speaking countries was because by some freak of nature we were actually speaking portugese and would therefore be fine in Brazil. Unforetuneately this is not the case and we can understand even less here... Now as I started to get agitated the bus lady brought in a lady from the IH hostel counter to help interperate. We had spoken to this lady before as we had booked the IH hostel in Bonito. This lady was GREAT!!!! When she found out our problem she managed to get us pushed in to the front of the line at migration and promised to try to talk the bus driver into waiting for us. In the end we had her and the bus driver waiting in line and helping us fill in our paperwork. Long story short and a lot of rushing we made the bus (15mins late) and it then a simple 5hr ride into bonito arriving at 8pm - a long day.
Today we did a a day trip for snorkeling down the Rio Prata (river). On the way we stoped at a collapsed cave which is called the birdcage because of all the macaws and other birds that
Nothing like sitting above a hole 72m deep!! Just about to start our descent.
now live there. We didn´t see heaps of birds but we did see some macaws and a tocan a really long way away. It was then snorkeling down the river. The water was quite cold but we had wetsuits so that held the cold at bay for a little while at least. It started out just as we hoped, crystal clear waters, great visability, lots of fish, bubbling springs.... but after about 10mins a storm came in and pretty soon our visability was down to a couple of metres. It was still fun floating down the river though, and checking out the bubbling springs. On the way back to our hostel we were dropped of for our training for tomorrows adventure.
We had signed up to do the Abismo anhumas tour on Wednesday. This sounded like the coolest (and most expensive) tour in Bonito. It involves rappelling 72m down into a cave, and then snorkeling in an underground lake 40m deep surrounded by stagemites and stalegtites. The traning consisted of getting familiar with the equipment for rappeling... oh yeah and climbing back up the 72m. aparently our exit from the cave was to be made using the same rope
Its really cold
Setting of on our underground snorkelling excursion
we came down and one of those, handy clampy feet slingy climby things like you see on TV. It wasn´t too bad doin the 9m at training so how hard could it be tomorrow??
It was to be a rapelling, snorkelling birthday for Nick - Certainly a birthday he will remember. What a trip, it was absoulutely amazing!!!! When you drop through a hole in the roof of a cave 72m above an undergound lake which is kind of a luminesent blue in the small amount of light that gets in... its not like anything we have ever experienced before. Once you get down to the floating platform, you head out for a guided boat ride around the lake (which is about the size of a football field). And then its time for your dip in the lake, with the water a very refreshing 18 degrees we were glad for our full length wetsuits (which actually did a remarkable job of keeping us warm). The next half an our was snorkling through and around all the underwater stalegmites, in luminesent crystal clear water in semi darkness. Then came the hard part... 72m looks like a long way
The Birthday Boy
Nick about to start his long climb out......
when your coming down a rope... it looks even further when your at the bottom and they´re telling you you´ve got to climb up!! But push after pull and half an hour later we were at the top much hotter, and worn out than when we started (and Nick´s not sure if his groin is ever going to be the same again). But what a trip and what a way to spend a birthday!! After a little siesta it was off for a steak dinner in town.
Tomorrow we are off to Foz do Iguazu (which we have discovered is about a 20hr bus trip - yay!!)
There are more photos below