Crappy week in the jungle

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South America » Bolivia » Beni Department » Rurrenabaque
October 2nd 2011
Published: October 3rd 2011
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Well it all startslastweek, i got out of bed at 5 am to catch my flight back to la paz... gets to the office the bus breaks down so they start tinkering with the engine get it working then they get a flat tyre! Finally after all the commotion we get to the airport but something bad was going off and there were fires and rioters blocking the runway and throwing stuff at the bus... so the bus goes back to the office and we all get told no flight today! I was a bit upset to be leaving anyway to be honest because i loved the jungle and pampas so much so i thought id head back to the agency and see if they could arrange for me to go and stay with a tribe in the jungle for a week. They could and off we went, me and my non english speaking guide miguel. We caught a boat to take us to where we would catch a bus but we get there and again rioters everywhere... no bus journey! We got going the following morning whilst the rioters were having a break and no one was blocking the road, the minibus had no air con and it was fooking boiling... add to that the fact the bus had 11 seats not including the driver and at onepoint we had 23 people in there. A large woman came on with a baby attached to her breast... im thinking dont sit next to me, dont sit next to me so what does she do... sits next to me and proceeds to breast feed her baby for 4 hours solid, so iv got her on one side, my guide miguel had fallen asleep on the other side and was drooling on my arm,,, i guess you just had to be there me in the back of this minibus sweating breastfrrding mother one side, drooling guide the other me, wide eyed wishing it would end... then it got worse baby pooed and mother changed it right next to me,,, bloody awful! The journey itself i can only liken to being in a washing machine for 4 hours, again there is no road just a dirt track with potholes and rivers to drive through... hell. We finally got there and i collapsed outof the hell bus... i was feeling really faint! Miguel said we would get lunch so he took me to this dive with flys crawling everywhere beetles in the rice, proper nice! I necked a bottle of sprite which sorted my blood sugar out though and i felt ok ish... i knew we had an 8 hour hiketo get to the family ahead of us so i packed light, i was still dreading it though because it was so humid and the sun was relentless... miguell then gives me loads of bags which was our food for the week... my bag went from being bearable to literally about 30 kilos i couldnt even lift it in the heat never mind walk 8 hours! Miguel suggested we could get a taxi... taxi! why did no one tell me about this yes of course we will get a taxi. I dont know what i was thinking... i had visions of an airconditioned merc turning up or something, stupid thinking for 2 reasons 1' this part of bolivia is red hot yet NO cars have air con, 2' why the fuck would there be a road going in to the middle of the jungle?
What turned up was infact 2 motorbikes... motorbikes! No helmets provided no nothing.... im thinking risk my life or 8 hour hike, going back wasnt an option there was no frigging way i was going back on that god forsaken bus 1 minute before i had to. I decided to risk it and i jumped on the back of the bike, i honestly thought i was going to die i was hanging on for dear life my poorly packed bag was pulling my weight from side to side and pulling the bike with it, the driver didnt seem to care though he just proceeded with break neck speed, we stopped a few times to try and adjust the bag but in the end the driver had to put it between the handle bars which made me happy for two reasons 1: i no longer felt i was going to be dragged from the bike and killed, 2: the driver had to slow down! What had started as a nighmarish ride turned out to be the highlight of the week really wewere flying through the bolivian counrty side thriugh fields of cows then we got to the jungle and were going up dirt tracks through streams getting stuck in mud... it was great! We arrived at the village, the first thing i noticed was there was shit everywhere, not literally shit )il come on to that in a minute) but shit as in rubbish... bottles, plastic, paper etc. We then walked through the jungle to our families hut again, shit everywhere. There was one bigish hut where the family slept a chicken shed which was to become my home for the next week and an outdoor kitchen with dirty pans stacked up and food waste casually flung everywhere and of course flies... lots of flies! I met the family, mum dad and 3 devil children. My visions of spear wielding savages were shattered, they werent a tribe as i envisiaged a tribe would be. They were just a very poor family who just happened to live in thejungle. They had chickens... lots of chickens that walked all over the kitchen area and 5 mangey, skinny dogs. They also had a pen with pigs. The dogs were all full of ticks so i made it my first mission to de tick them... the family looked at me like i was mental! They have no electricity or water, the only way of washing was toswim in the river- which was filthy and pirahna infested! After the sweaty bus journey though i decided to brave it... as soon as i took my clothes off they descended... within seconds i was covered in various bites all itchy as hell!
We ate dinner and Miguel told me that on whatever night it was they stayed up late drinking the local drink... it absolutely blew my head off, strong stuff! I called it a night before i got too pissed though. That night was very uncomfortable id had a nasty reaction to the bites and despite copius amounts of after bite nothing would stop the itching on top of the fact it was red hot too! They next morning i got up the family had gone off somewhere andmiguel was snoozing after cooking breakfast, i looked around and had to do something... the place was like a pig sty so i got a broom and swept up and washed the pots as best i could in the dirty river water, it must have been bad for me to feel like i had to clean up but it was bad, trust me! There was rotting ant and god knows what infested food next to food intended for consumption anyway i did that then i gave the pigs water because theyd been left with none and looked rather thirsty. Miguel then suggested to vamos down to the river... what happened then was shocking! He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him with a ring he´s carved himself from a coconut! I was gob smacked especially as we hadnt even had a conversation.... he didnt even speak english!!! I put him right anyway and made it crystal clear there would be no marriage... no nothing! Unfortunately this made things a bit awkward for the rest of the week! In the afternoon we went to see some other families... and it was all the same really dirty huts, dirty kitchens, dirty kids. We went to one and three kids were playing with something on the floor as they moved away i realised it was a freshly butchered chicken and their mother was just watching... the kids were covered in blood it was coming out their mouths where they´d been licking it... awful. One of the kids came up to me but i had to move away i didnt want it near me! The day after at breakfast time i had the pleasure of witnessing an animal being butched, the father of the family then invited me fishing, im thinking rods and stuff bus this is bolivia! they all jumped in the river with a large net i was told to stand at the side with a bag and a machete and follow them they thenwalked upstreamwith the net untill something got caught in it, theythen un tangled it and battered it over the head with a stick untill it was dead then they chucked it at me to put in the bag the adults werent to bad 3 or 4 hits and the fish was dead the two boys who i guess would be just in their teens were barbaric though 30 hits i counted on one poor fist then theys throw me the mangled up corpse... gross. the worst ones were the catfish i guess they must be built differently but i got a few of them lobbed at me with their heads handing off! This went on for hours... i got a bit of sunstroke GREAT DAY ALL ROUND. When we got back themother was hitting some tree bark with some wood, it was to make fabric for clothes apparently, i thought id be nice and offer to help, 4 hour bastard job that was just hitting it repeatedly! Theday after we spent the day in the school, i felt like a bit of a spare part not speaking the lingo and i got to sit at thefront of the class and make a ring while the other kids were making necklases and stuff... that day was boring. I hate kids! We went in to the jungle one day... which was also pants because its been ravaged by loggers and destroyed by the communities who have chopped down massive areas to grow rice and stuff. We had caught loads of fish toomuch for the family to eat so the leftovers were ´stored on the washing line theywere still there when i left! Which brings me on to the next subject... there was no toilet. They just shat and pissed wherever they needed to go, no loo roll, im surprised i havent got a water infection because i was averaging 1 wee a day i didnt want to go cos i felt exposed... lol and i didnt have a poo all the time i was there i just couldnt! Which was amazing in itself considering iv had the shits for weeks, and the entire family and my guide all had stomach upsets and also a good job because theyd depleted the immodium supplies between them. I must have a stomach of steel now, because i know the food was prepared with dirty water using dirty utensils with flies all over... either that or some places iv been eating have serious hygene problems, though i dont know how much more serious that that they can get! All throughout the week my bites got worse and worse and i have ripped my legs to shreads it was unbearable. Then i went for a swim with my bleeding gammy legs and got bitten by a pirahna! One day one of the kids brought a baby parrot back from school he´d found and he gave it to the young kid, who dissapeared with it and all you could hear was the poor thing squealing whilehis mum and dad just laughed! I dont know how it could get any worse! Then on my last day it did we went to vist another family who had puppy dogs and the kids about 10 of them were all being really cruel to them kicking and punching them and pinching them while the adults just laughed or occassionally joined in, I´d proper had enough and when the time came to leave and do the 8 hours trek back i was off iv never walked so fast in my life. My guide told me it was a shame we were going because they were having a party and catching, killing and eating monkeys... yea shame i missed that! All in all a proper wanky week but an experience all the same, and iv now got an eye infection, ear infection and various skin disorders to remind me just how crap it was! Anyways onwards and upwards.


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