How I almost melted in the jungle

Published: October 25th 2012
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On Monday I was supposed to go to a museum with my Spanish teacher, but that didn't work out as it was closed. Once again Bolivians didn't like something and striked by not working. It is an annoying habit, but it seems quite effective. So I had my usual 4 hours of Spanish and watched a movie with my teacher. It was called "Who killed the white llama", it was about corruption and drugs, the protagonists were cussing the entire time and the movie was pirated with a shitty quality so I didn't understand anything! Fortunately I had the English subtitles to help me out. In the afternoon I walked to my trusted juice bar (as always) only to find it closed! That pretty much ruined my day...

Fortunately the next day was pretty exciting. At work we got to deliver our magazine to different places around the city. We got into a taxi with around 400 Cocha-Banners and drove to different cafés, cultural centres and the university (where we almost got lost...) to deliver them. It was really fun. Since we were done earlier than my usual work time I decided to get a manicure afterwards. It cost me 15 Bolivianos (ca. 1,70€) and I had a pretty good laugh, too! The women were watching TV (a Disney movie) while doing the manicures and they were so concentrated they had their mouth open and barely looked at the nails. So I was trying really hard not to laugh, but did smile all the time and my manicure lady noticed it at some point and had to smile herself. My manicure still turned out pretty well though. In the evening me and some other volunteers went to a restaurant, so Marie could write another review about it. It was all nice until the end. I was leaving a bit earlier, so I paid my bill downstairs and left. The waiter or whoever was responsible for crossing the paid food out, however, did not do so, so my friend paid for me. My food was paid twice and noone noticed. Fortunately mine was the cheapest (only some 3€) so it wasn't too bad. Still I probably won't go back there too quickly.

Remember the awesome tuned car my host uncle owns? I told him the best song for it would be "Next Episode" by Dr Dre and since he didn't have it, I gave it to him on an USB. Now everyone in Cochabamba will listen to it, like it or not. I feel like that was my good deed for the day and was very happy with myself. Also I somehow managed to own three of the rare 10 centivos coins which made me feel quite lucky.

Later this week we had a social event from our organization. They had invited some kids to dance folkloric dances with us and it was really cool. They were only 13-17 years old and totally rocked it! After they were done with their little show they invited us, the volunteers, to dance with them and I totally sucked. Whenever my dancing partner try to do a twist with me or change the dance I looked at him like "What the hell?", so he kept it quite simple. Afterwards we all ate hotdogs. The dancers were shy and just stood on the site, so I walked up to them to ask them if they wanted some chairs. They said no and I said "Oh come on!" They then laughed at me and I got them some chairs to sit with the rest. We talked for a while before they had to leave and they had a pretty good laugh because of my Spanish most of the time. But oh well, we were able to communicate.

Friday afternoon my Spanish teacher and I got to go to the museum we missed out on on Monday. She took me on her scooter (which was super safe of course) and it was nice to feel the breeze. We went to a museum Marie and I had delivered Cocha-Banners to on Tuesday and the group of old people in front of me were all holding one in their hands. It makes you feel really proud to see people read your work (although they later used it to cover the dirty ground before sitting down, but I'll just ignore that...)

In the evening me and 6 others went to Villa Tunari (meaning the outskirts of the jungle!). We got a minivan that belonged to the company "German Busch". Sounds good to me! The driver, however, was a coca addict and before he finished his first bag he bought another one. He offered me some and my mouth was full after 20 leaves, so I had to wait for a stop to spit them out (you're not supposed to swallow them). The driver kept eating and eating and I wonder where the hell he stored all the coca leaves in his mouth... or maybe he did just swallow them. We arrived at around 12am and had to find a hostel. Two volunteers who had been there a week earlier told us where to go, but unfortunately noone really knew where it was. It was incredibly humid and we had to walk around with all our stuff, so you can imagine how sweaty we were after a while. We finally found the place and went to bed quickly. Although there was a fan in our room (which we positioned right in front of the bed) i couldn't sleep at all and was just covered in sweat getting up the next morning.

Even taking a shower didn't help as your skin would get sticky right afterwards and you couldn't get really dry, so i gave up and decided to look like shit that weekend. We found a little place where we got some nice breakfast and then went to the monkey park. You can't imagine how disgusting we felt. You can feel the sweat dripping down your back all the time. Also I was wearing long pants, because I didn't want the bugs to bite me, so I was sweating twice as much. We finally got to a little lookout with some benches and were more than happy to sit down for a bit. There we also saw the first (and last monkeys). A woman had told us to walk there as the monkeys were usually there and then continue to the waterfall before coming back. She also warned us to hide our staff and give everything to the monkeys they wanted as they would bite you if you don't. So they stole one girls waterbottle. And that monkey was a real bitch! Instead of at least drinking the stolen water it let it all go to waste and then left the empty water bottle behind. Not only did Laura not have a single drip of water for the next 3 km, but she also had to carry the empty bottle around (no trash in the park!). Then came the next monkey and took a guys 2 liter bottle. Since it was too heavy to push over the monkey just licked the bottle neck and left it there, so Antoine also did not have any water left. After seeing this I hid my water well as I was not willing to walk through the jungle without water just because some stupid monkey acted like a complete douchebag. We arrived at the waterfall and were disappointed: there was barely any water coming down! What a fail! Now we had to walk all the way back without even being able to freshen up a bit and refilling our bottles.

After leaving the park we all agreed we would get some lunch and then find a place to swim as the heat and humidity were just unbearable. So we walked around the little town until we found a taxi and asked him to take us somewhere where we could swim. Three of us sat in the trunk and the rest inside the car. We drove for some 15 minutes until he let us out at this little lagoon where a bunch of locals were bathing. After changing into our swimwear, Marie said she had found a place just a few meters away where there were no people at all and we could have it all to ourselves. At first we wondered a bit why all the locals would sit in one spot, if there is this other beautiful place so close by, but in that moment we didn’t care at all. The water had the perfect temperature and the little fish nagging on our feet didn’t bother any of us. We only had one problem. No one had a towel with him and the taxi driver didn’t want us to get in the car wet, so we had to get out of the water after some 30 minutes and hope we would dry naturally. Yeah…that didn’t work in that humidity, so when the driver came to pick us up he put mats on the seats, so we wouldn’t get his car wet.

Back at our hostel we showered and relaxed before going out to eat. I was told to try surubi (catfish) and that’s exactly what we did. It was really good, although it tasted a bit like chicken and after filling our stomachs we decided to spend the evening at a karaoke bar. I guess you can call it a club and a bar, but there was definitely no karaoke. They showed music videos and some had the lyrics, but we paid more attention to the water-filled condoms hanging down the chandelier. Also it was so incredibly hot in there we didn’t manage to stay more than one hour and then went back to our hostel to hang out there. We played some drinking games (although we barely had alcohol, so it was like: “Oh you lost. If we had alcohol, you would have to drink”) and ate all our snacks before going to bed. We had some exiting plans for the next day, so we had to rest.

Early the next morning (well, 8 o’clock) we walked to a place which offered white water rafting. For 19€ we got to do one of the coolest activities! The guide was a douche though. We had to do everything he told us to and because we obeyed to everything he said, no matter how stupid it was, he would make us do some parts twice to get us extra wet (but he also fell in the water. That’s what you get!) At one point we were allowed to jump in the water and when he pulled me out, my pants slipped down. Fortunately I had changed in my bikini before, so he got to see my bikini bottom and not my lacy underwear I was wearing earlier… After the rafting we decided we’ve had enough of the climate, so we got some lunch before going back to the hostel and grabbing our things. On our way back we were wet, sweaty, dirty and tired. Suddenly some men started whistling at us. It was actually nice to be noticed looking like that although I know that the only reason they whistled are my skin and hair color (but I'll just ignore that!)

We left Villa Tunari all sweaty and disgusting at around 5 o’clock and on the way back someone came up with the idea of getting some ice cream back in Cochabamba. Although we all looked like shit (and I really mean that) we decided we would go to one of the liveliest areas of Cochabamba and enjoy some ice cream before ultimately going home. It was delicious, but the best thing that evening was the shower. I have never enjoyed a shower and a nice bed more in my life. And I’m not going to complain about the heat in Cochabamba for a while, cause here at least it’s dry and your skin doesn’t get sticky!

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