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Published: June 13th 2007
No, not the disease. Its a monkey. He had a thing for zippers and close bodily contact.
Cochabamba, or Cbba, for short. We´ve had good times (paragliding, rock climbing, monkey in my shirt), we´ve had bad times (broken bike, attempted french-kiss from 80 yr old, chicha), but all in all its been good.
I have been living a working in Cochabamba, Bolivia for about a month now. Its been relaxing, fun, and mostly a wonderful learning experience. The main attraction to Cbba is the climate. It hasn´t rained once since I have been here. During the days I sweat in my pants, and at night it cools down enough to need a sweater. But in general its about the closest thing to perfect weather that you could ask for. And the surrounding mountains rise dramatically on all sides. Nice to look at, nice to be in, I can understand why people recommended the city to me. So I decided to call it home while I devoted a little more time to improving my Spanish and took a rest from travelling.
I got a gig teaching English a few hours a day and moved into a house in a fairly nice part of town with Sylvia, her daughter Yara, and various other people who were
This is looking outward from a cave where nocturnal birds live. I think they might have been interesting, but I really could only understand a little of what my guide said.
coming and going. I also got a Spanish tutor that I saw three times a week. I have spent my time here walking around, people watching in La Cancha, sleeping loads, trying to start reading in Spanish (harder than in sounds) and having little adventures on the weekends.
My first weekend in Sylvias house I went with Marion and Patricia, two other travellers, to Chapare and the jungle. We visited a national park where I got to see bats in a cave (their little turned up pointy noses make them look really cute in person, in my opinion), and see (but mostly hear) nocturnal birds in a cave, as well as traipse around in the jungle for a few hours. It was really nice, and a wonderful change after being in the city for a few weeks straight. The jungle is very green and has lots of flowers and bugs and birds and snakes and everything you expect.
After the national park, we went to an animal refuge in Villa Tunari. I had been hearing about this place for ages, and although I enjoyed my one day visit there, I was disappointed to hear from the other travelers
I don´t understand much spanish, but the guide made it very clear that these bats only eat vegetables and bugs. To be fair, it was a little scary because when you shone the light on them they started flying around and making noise.
there that they were pretty sure they just had people volunteering to make money off of them. Sad, but I still enjoyed seeing the animals. The only ones you could walk right up to were the smaller monkeys and the macaws. Fortunately I also happened to pass by as they were walking a huge baby bear and as I went alone to the lookout at the top of a hill I crossed the path of two volunteers escorting a puma, which as it passed I think looked at me and licked its lips. I got photos of neither, which I think is excusable because in the presence of a large carnivore usually the last thing you think about it whipping out your camera.
My second weekend in Cbba I went rock climbing with andesextremo, an agency in Cochabamba. I learned to lead climb, tried to rappel, beat the life out of my legs, and spent two glorious days outside of the city. It was wonderful to breath fresh air. I also took the coldest swim I have ever had in my life (with the exception of a polar bear plunge in college) through a gorge up to a waterfall.
Well I guess technically regurgitated seeds, 5 different types that the nocturnal bird likes to eat and then return to the world once more. Its in Marion´s hand, not mine :)
It was frigid. I mean, the kind of cold where you really can´t breathe right and the thought crosses your mind that you might just die from the shock. But I couldn't resist going up to the falls.
The third weekend I decided to splurge on a tandem paragliding flight with the same agency. If you get the chance, which I didn´t due to money constraints, I can recommend learning to paraglide with them. Cocha is a wicked place to paraglide, in my opinion. The dramatic mountains surrounding the city make it really accesible. The guys who run the agency seem pretty knowledgeable and really nice. I couldn´t afford the course, but I was pretty impressed with the tandem flight. And after everyone had flown we sat around for the entire afternoon grilling, eating, and drinking the god-awful chicha (its some sort of alcohol that seems to skip right over "drunk" and go straight to "hangover") that I hope never to touch again in my life. People played the guitar, made conversation in half a dozen different languages, laughed, ate too much meat, and generally enjoyed life together for a few hours. We all went back to the "office"
In the animal reserve. They are tricky little beasts, and smart too boot. Keep a tight hold on your cameras.
afterwards, which is really the house where the guys in the agency live, drank more local booze, ate the biggest pizza in the world, and watched paragliding DVDs (that sounds kinda geeky huh?) It was a day that made me really appreciate being here in South America. Ahhhhhh...
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