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January 18th 2010
Published: January 18th 2010
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On the road to RurreOn the road to RurreOn the road to Rurre

A 20 hour bus ride which included a rainstorm and a lot of leaking
The day after Bex and Melissa left for Canada Nate and I left for Puno at 7 in the morning. The goal was to get to Puno and see the reed islands (uros). When we got there I guess Nate's Canadian side came out and wasn't really impressed by this lake (we see lots in BC) so we didn't feel like staying. So five minutes after arriving at the bus terminal we were leaving once more for La Paz. The road to La Paz included a boat ride across Titicaca (a barge for the bus). We arrived in La Paz (a dazzling arrival as you come in from the top side of the city and discover a city built basically in a bowl) at about 10pm without any hostal reservations. So we tagged along with a friend we made on the bus to see if we could get a room at the hostal he had a reservation with - no luck. So we had to find something else, which we did. We were pretty tired from the 14 hour bus ride so we slept in until about 9am.

Using our travel guide we discovered during the night that in order to enter the Bolivian rainforest of Madidi one must travel first to Rurrenabaque (or ¨Rurre¨). So we inquired in the morning with the hostal clerk about how to get there. We were on a bus within an hour and a half. This ride turned out to be 20 hours long. We never once during the trip exceeded 30 km/h and rarely 10s passed by without any major potholes. The worst part, however, was that we were heading into a rainstorm which hit in the night while I was sleeping and my window was cracked open. So I woke up wet with 14 hours left of the bus ride. Even worse, closing my window did not solve the problem: the bus was leaking from every poorly applied seal (of which there must have been many). There were rivers of water running down the sides of the bus! And my backpack was on the floor...
Then at nearly midnight we were stopped by the army's drug traffic patrol. This meant a soldier came on the bus with a bright light, pointed it in randomly chosen people's faces and asked for their Bolivian visa and identity document. A couple people had to get
The roadThe roadThe road

was all dirt and potholes. We basically covered 400km in 20 hours.
off the bus and get body-searched in a room no one could see into. While this occurred my stupidity dawned on me. I had entered Bolivia as a Peruvian and not as a Canadian. It turns out that Bolivians do not really like Peruvians - so I was getting ready to be picked on - really badly, especially since I have double nationality (a concept the military man on the bus did not seem to understand).

Thank God that flashlight never lit my face.

We arrived in Rurre at about 7 in the morning. At 9am we were in a jeep heading to the ¨pampas¨ (like a savannah) for a 3 day and 2 night tour. Another 5 hour jeep ride on a very wet terrain which at one point flooded the motor. Add another hour to the trip.

Then a 3 or 4 hour boat ride.

Finally we arrived in our campsite, which had a hammock pad with about 8 hammocks and rooms for two with beds and mosquito nets. The rest of the trip will be explained better by the pictures but I will write a little.

The itinerary included wildlife watching, piranha

We were transported from the bus station to the hostal on a motorbike
fishing (our group only caught 2), anaconda hunting (not hurting them, supposedly), swimming with pink dolphins, and alligator spotting. We saw a wide array of wildlife including anacondas, piranhas, pink dolphins (freshwater dolphins), alligators, caymans, huge moths, three or four varieties of monkeys, cormorants, toucans, birds of paradise, kingfishers, condors, eagles, an owl, a sloth, and capybaras (the largest rodents on Earth). See the pictures.

We were not overly impressed by the handling of the animals by our guide. The first anaconda we saw was caught by two guides who went into the pampas alone (leaving us under a tree) and came back with a yellow ¨anaconda¨ (the guide confessed later that it wasn't an anaconda but a false rattle snake) which was fairly damaged. Our guide told us that an eagle was attacking it while it shed its skin and had cut off its tail in the process. We believe that the guide cut off the snake's tail because it had a rattle which would tell us that it wasn't really an anaconda. The snake was in pretty bad shape. Animal brutality.

Now we are back in Rurre after a less eventful 18 hour bus ride. We were going to mountain bike down ¨the world's most dangerous road¨ but we were to late and we are leaving tonight for Uyuni, home of the world's largest salt flats. Bolivia holds a lot of records.

Additional photos below
Photos: 56, Displayed: 25



The largest rodent in the world. It appears to have bathed its bottom in mud.

A pleasant shot

19th January 2010

A mothers comment
Sounds like you guys are having an interesting and exciting time with lots of different experiences. We pray for safety for the both of you and are glad you have each other for company.(and safety!!!) Mom
26th January 2010

Bring on the Monkeys!
Derek, I loved the one of you with the monkey on your head. You look like you were loving it too! I wish I could have seen it in person though. Although the chicken of paradise wasn't at all like the ones on planet Earth, it still had its own strength in appearance:)

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