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Published: July 12th 2006
stuck in the mud
two-days and a night...we totally booked, Amboro
on a spur of the moment with a local tour operator in the historic center which I guess is a good thing. We were instructed to wear longsleeves and light coloured clothing and make sure to take bug repellant
We hired a tent and a few other essentials and decided even if the mosquitos ate us alive they wouldn't ruin our fun and it was LOTS of fun
. Little did we know that the mosquitos would be the least of our worries but that the ants would be the ones to attack, stealth style, during the night while we slept...
Early morning rise, reminded the owner of Hotel Italia that we'd be leaving very early in the morning, um, so she wouldn't think we spent the entire day in bed again.
Any way, we packed our bags for storage took our day bag with us and went down to the dinning area for our ritual continental breakfast ( Bread, Butter, Jam and Tea
) while we were finishing up our pick-up arrived on time -seven AM on the dot. Hailed a taxi went down to catch a public collectivo and be
eight o'clock we were six in a sedan (sedan is being very generous on the description) they really pack'm in like sardines otherwise it must be a loss for the driver.
Didn't catch much of the scene as everyone seemed to sleep on the drive, except the driver ofcourse, and we arrived in good time at the Amboro Tours
office in Buena Vista.
While Sean gathered the kit we hired for our trek into the jungle I ran off with the guide (no, not that way, you guys! really?) to buy water for our excursion. Our 4X4 driver was waiting and once the Swiss couple showed up we head out to the park main base entrance. With all the gear stowed on top and everyone seated we commenced our journey into the, some what known, rain forest.
The ride was bumpy and crossing the rivers I was really surprised when the water didn't seep into the cabin of the car as the water level appeared to be around seat level, yikes. No wonder you can only get to the park during the dry season... though our trusted driver managed to get through the rivers seemlessly he wasn't able
to get past some of the mud pits en route without being pushed by the men while us women watched - as you'd expect, right?
Further along the vehicle went over a pretty deep gouge in the dusty rock ridden road and lost the license plate and the bumper-thing you use for towing - one of the guides gathered the license plate and tossed the bumber on the side of the road behind some bushes as the driver said he'd pick it up on the way back. How he'd remember exactly which bush it left it behind is beyond me. The drive to the park is about two hours so we'd arrived by mid-day tops.
Packs on our backs - off we went to the entrance for registration and last use of a
toilet for at least four and twenty hours, fun fun...
Erlan (our guide) was already waiting for our arrival we saw his packs but not him he must of taken a wander? He responded to a hollar from Ernan the other guide and we introduced ourselves.
Erlan lives within a few miles of the park boundry and wears a puma's tooth around
his neck, as memorance, of the puma he killed that killed his dog. Didn't get all the details but that's the gist of the story.
As we walked Erlan told us about the vegetation in the park, a budding palm that gets harvested by locals to make fine white hats, and pointed out a puma territorial marking next to the path we treaded upon. Kinda cool, kinda frieghtning he said they (all the big cats) have their own turf and they don't intrude on each others space which is a bit reassuring.
Both pumas and jaguars inhabit the park along with countless birds that include the toucan (Sean saw one flying on the way there!), spider monkeys, and loads of beautiful butterflies. There is also the less desirable spiders, termites and various ant species.
We asked to see waterfalls and that's what we got: lots of waterfalls and swimming holes. We set up camp at the first swimming hole waterfall. Had a nice hot spaghetti lunch then headed out for a bit of walking afterwards in hopes of catching a glimpse of cheeky monkeys and colourful birds. We saw neither but I managed to glimse some black
toxic for the waters...
ancient fishing tool according to our guide no longer used today!
beast with a long tail but it ran off so quickly our guide couldn't identify.
Then Sean spotted the hugest, scariest spider I've ever seen up close with massive intricate webs to catch careless prey. Erlan told us a story of a previous time he'd set up camp there with a French guest and how during the night a puma decide to sleep the whole night above, on the rising, a couple hundred meters from their camp roaring and making awful sounds through the night and how the next morning when he went to get water from the river that the cat roared in an angry sort of way then ran off into the forest. Erlan was like
just the two of us and a machete
I think he counts himself and the Frenchy as very lucky
By the time we returned to camp I wasn't feeling so well. Part humidity, part lack of hydration Sean recommended jumping in the swimming hole to cool off but I thought it was too cold. The sun was low in the sky and taking the conservative route I chose to drink lots of H2O and have a lay down until supper was ready.
a lot of ants roaming around gathering stuffs for their nest when our guide spotted the nest above our camp and decided it would be best to hack its branch and relocate it to another place. Seems reasonable enough but then, after the fact, tells us how the ants left behind will just roam until either they claim a new home or just die. In the meantime they just roamed all over our camp site - not tons of them just enough to bite ya every once in a while. OUCH those buggars bite hard and boy its hard not to scratch the spot... Anyway, enough moaning, we got served up a lovely traditional soup for supper.
Starry as the night was Sean and I went to the waterfall for a gazing - the stars were incredibly bright in the darkness of the forest. After a bit, decided to return to camp and get a good nights rest.
Falling asleep to the sound of soothing waterfall and the forest night life was easy. Except calling it a night so early meant that I awoke with an extremely full bladder in the utter silence of the woods about two
AM. After failing to try and forget I need to go - put on my boots and grabbed my flashlight and headed into the dark to find a spot off trail and away from camp.
While I was out of the house called a tent I began thinking how strange it is not to have a bathroom and in the same sense that is the most natural way of being in the woods, maybe? Also remembering these toilet seats we saw in Santa Cruz that were literally no hands, sans paper just directed water jets - totally high tech potties - Sean said that in the future our children will think it is odd to have ever used loo paper at all. Time will tell...
On the agenda today, petrified dinosaur bones - many of the fossils found in Amboro national park are located at the museo of Noel Kempff National Park.
On this, our second day we trekked the dino trail and saw a pretty sizable cavity in the rock where a fossil was removed it's sorta shaped like a heart
, so I thought. (My hiking buddies back in Italia will tease me a bit
when they read that...) Our guide left us to go swimming.
As we didn't have our suits on we changed al fresco, opting not to go skinny as we didn't want our bottoms bitten. This swimming hole had loads of butterflys, strange helix type flower drooping from it's tree, countless fishies and dragonflys, too!
Sean and I had a lovely swim in the rain forest and about an hour later the Swiss couple arrived to dive into the refreshing waters. After a bit our guide and chef returned to the site to tell us lunch was ready! We were expecting a bit more hiking after lunch but instead we went to the local camp retreat enjoyed a drink and lounged in the hammocks until our ride back to Buena Vista showed up. We got back at six and hoped to get either a collectivo or a micro (mee-crow) bus back to Santa Cruz.
Turned out to be hard going to find someone willing to drive us back on a Sunday night. Luckily, the Swiss couple offered to give of a lift in their pre-arranged taxi which would have been wonderful if he was actually waiting for them
at the office. They were initially told the driver was there earlier then they were told he was admitted to hospital that afternoon - who knows what the truth of the matter actually was? In the end the agency found someone about ninty minutes later who agreed to the dangerous journey to Santa Cruz. People from the countryside
must think city folk
are very scary?!
While we waited Sean dropped in on the Irish pub in Buena Vista whose propieter also owns the one in the centre of Santa Cruz. Apparently, they didn't understand his Spanish and had the Irish owner help out - he told Sean that during that time of night on a Sunday we'd be very lucky to have someone accept the job because the road is dangerous or that they weren't drunk!
Finally arriving in Santa Cruz we dummped our bags and went to the Irish pub in the plaza for dinner and a drink, boy what a way to cap off a wonderful weekend.
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