Walking With Pumas - Day 16 - 27
Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
31Trip End Apr 06, 2013
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Our day started as usual and the SJ headed out with Dave to walk Luna which was uneventful and Luna was happy and chilled although as usual we arrived back at the park late and well after lunch had ended. We always had a portin of lunch set aside for us in little tubs so we didn't go hungry.
After a few hours walk with Lishou, AK & Pete had returned to camp to find five new faces. They had all come from Ambue Ari, one of the three parques that were part of Inti Wara Yassi. The reason for their arrival was because there was a big monkey enclosure getting built next to our camp on the edge of the jungle, Jacj Cuisi would eventually keep monkeys but needed this building before they could. Some of them had been to this Parque before, and some of them hadn't, most of the volunteers hadn't met any of them before so we quickly introduced ourselves and talked to them for a while
We finished lunch & helped to clear an area of heavy shrubbery with machetes, after a couple of hours macheteing, AK went off to feed Lishou while the others carried on.
Nat and SJ Went to feed Luna and by now Nat and Luna were good friends. Natalie got asked to make a cake in the evening, as it was Jael's birthday tomorrow, Nat was on dinner with SJ anyway so she could make it while she was doing that. SJ helped Nat prepare the cake, then they made veggie burgers, yucca & plantain chips & rice, a lot more of a successful meal than AK's & Mollies the night before. After Nat had made the cake mix, Gaz used the igloo oven instead of the gas one to cook it, the igloo oven was that hot, that after a few minutes the cake burnt. Nat was pissed off at Gaz, saying that she prepared it & all he had to do was cook it, but the damage was done & it was decided that Nat would cook another one tomorrow....without the help of Gaz or the igloo oven. Dinner went down well anyway, plenty of food for everyone, plus it was decided that we would have the burnt cake for breakfast tomorrow, AK & Gaz had a (stolen as usual) sample piece & it tasted fine anyway.
Now SJ had been finding this week tough for a few reasons, one of which was the, albeit necessary, slaughtering of the chickens. Although SJ eats meat she is becoming increasingly more adverse to animals being killed for her consumption
SJ awoke at 5am to the sound of the pig squealing prior to the poor thing being slaughtered. As life is sometimes very cruel, it turned out that SJ was the only one to hear the last moments of the pigs life, everyone else slept right through. Dave volunteered to get up at the crack of dawn & help kill it, he'd done it before it Puerto Rico when he's visited relatives. SJ was one person who wouldn't be participating in the eating of it today.
We woke up & went to breakfast, which Dave prepared after slaughtering the pig earlier in the morning. SJ was very subdued and stayed away from the kitchen where the pig was being prepared for roasting on the fire
Again, as luck would have it, SJ had a difficult morning. Luna had chosen to walk up the creek that runs long her trail. She was very alert and found a poor startled turtle about the size of a side plate. Luna didn't really know what to do with it so she just batted it around and kept picking it up in her teeth. SJ hates to see anything struggle for its life so she was quite distressed. Eventually Luna dropped the turtle so SJ picked it up and hid it behind her back. Pretty risky when a Puma wants it and the said puma is attached to you! Dave took over the rope and SJ examined the turtle who was not too badly damaged. She then placed him back in the creek, wished him luck and told him to run for his life! All the while SJ kept think thinking about Ziggy, her pet Tortoise, who looked very similar to the turtle.
After our morning of walking the cats, we went for lunch & organised a game of football for later on, we had a few more people to play this time as we had the other workers from Parque Ambue Ari, who were doing construction working on the new monkey enclosure. By now the pig was getting ready for it's unfortunate fate....although fortunate for most of the group, particularly after we smelt the beer, garlic, oil & cumin marinade it was to be drenched in!
After eating lunch and admiring the meal (SJ couldn't even look at it) we would later feast on, AK took his cat out for the afternoon walk
AK & Pete were walking back from feeding Lishou when they heard the construction workers hard at work, after having a look at what they were doing without being seen, they decided to go & help out for half an hour. Turns out they were there almost two hours, digging holes that were full of big rocks, in the hot, blistering sun, making very hard work for everyone. Five thirty came, and everyone put down the tools & headed to the football field, to have a decent game of football before the sun went down. It turned out we had quite a few players, so we picked three smaller teams & just played one & off, suffice to say it was the English team (AK, Gaz, Nat & Pete) who won over all, although they came across some stiff competition from the Bolivians. During the game SJ stayed on the sidelines & took photos of everyone playing a very sweaty game.
The sun had finally gone down over the trees, so with the few minutes to spare before the sky went completely dark, everyone headed down to the creek at once to get washed, it was so refreshing. We walked back to camp in the dark to get dried in the dorm with just candles for light
We all walked up to the kitchen, by this time the pig was off the fire & in the process of being cut up, AK & Dave were like vultures picking away at any bits of fat & meat available, they also had their eye on the pieces they were going to take when it was ready to be served, even strategically placing them on the edges so they had easy access to them without mistaking them for a lesser piece.
We all feasted on our tasty meal, SJ & a couple of the vegetarians in the group opted against the delicious pig....their loss was everyone else's gain although in SJ's case this really was no loss as even the smell was making her feel sick
After dinner we headed back to the dorm, where everyone double checked their beds for tarantulas & other creatures of the night. For some reason there was more spiders & bugs out tonight than usual, we seen a couple more pretty big spiders around the toilet & kitchen. We got into bed & tucked our mozzy nets in, and stayed up for a while talking over our eventful day. SJ was glad this day was over and although challenging she had learnt a few things about herself and people in general.
This morning we woke up to find no spiders in any of our beds, which we were all relieved about
We came back in the afternoon to find out we would all be going out for a drink to a town called Santa Ana, ten kilometres in the opposite direction to Rurrenabaque. The reason for the last minute decision to go there for a drink on a work night, was the fact that Gaz, Nat & Pete were due to leave the day after on the Sunday, nobody had any complaints about a last minute beer session.
Early evening came & as soon as everybody had finished with their duties, and washing in the creek, we made our way to the road to try & hitch a ride to the small town. After about twenty minutes a car came which had space for three people, Gaz, Nat & Pete jumped in as they were the ones leaving, they set off & the sun was setting, everybody was fighting off the mozzies whilst not one vehicle went past in an hour since the others left. The decision was made that we would grab the potable from the side of Dave's bed, and at least try & walk five kilometres to a place that sells beer, bearing in mind that the walk was in the pitch black, along side the jungle, with a few streams to cross. As soon as the decision was made, a minibus turned up with enough space to take the remaining ten of us, as long as five of us rode on the roof rack on top....of course AK was straight up there, along with Kyle, Dimitrio, Molly & Dave
It was the best ride he'd ever taken to go & drink beer, it was only half an hour, and wasn't too dangerous because vehicles had to go slow with the road not being paved.
We arrived to find the other three, sat outside a wooden shack at the side of the road, with a mass of empty beer cans on the table around them. It wasn't quite the "town" we expected, but it sold cold beer & nice munchies, so it was definitely good enough. Gaz, Nat & Pete were all half drunk when we arrived, they never expected us to turn up after waiting so long for us to follow.
As the night went on, SJ & Pete (plus a tired and sleepy Catalina) managed to find a lift home pretty early on, everyone else stayed for a couple of hours before they started the long walk home, at 1am it was very unlikely they would find a lift back to camp.
SJ got back to the park at 10pm, put a sleepy Catalina to bed and was in bed herself by 10.15!
Meanwhile for AK the walk home was extremely interesting, Kyle & Kate had managed to jump on the back of somebody's motorbike for the rest of the way, when we were about halfway. By this time AK had started on Dave's bottle of potable, which was nick named the devils juice due to it's 96%25 proof, we actually used it for cleaning wounds & starting fires around camp, so it was pretty rough stuff
Three hours later, after a long walk in the jungle heat, spotting glow in the dark caterpillars & jumping over streams and chewing coca leaves, they made it back to camp, and due to SJ & the others being woken up by the drunken latecomers SJ was awake to witness AK drunkenly stumbling around, falling flat on his arse twice and pulling down Nat's Mozzie net in the process! AK made it into bed....not that he remembers, with help from SJ to get him on his side as she was worried about him vomiting in his sleep. SJ then returned to bed a little grumpy at AK being so wasted.
We were shouted for breakfast just after 7am, and everybody made their way to the kitchen, except for AK, who was dead to the world in bed, and impossible to wake up. SJ brought two pieces of bread & butter back to the room for AK with a cup of tea, which prompted him to wake up, take one bite from the bread, then fall back asleep....he was still very drunk! Katie happily ate AK's breakfast, so at least it never went to waste.
Another hour went by, and as everyone was setting off to start their daily chores, Dave & Molly woke AK up to help on construction
AK woke up in the late afternoon, feeling tired & worn out, and more importantly...sober! He lay in bed for an hour listening to music, then got up to have a dip in the stream to freshen up, good job because he was on dinner duties tonight with Katie, the new girl from Ambue who was being trained on Lishou. This was the last dinner of the week, which meant that there were hardly any ingredients to use, despite this they made a decent pasta dish for everyone.
Prior to making dinner, Gaz, Nat & Pete were ready to leave. Pete went to the road first to wait for a lift for them, so AK & SJ said their goodbyes to him, then we got a couple of photos with Gaz & Nat before saying goodbye's to them. We got on well with the two Yorkshire folks, so AK's & SJ's last week wouldn't be the same. The only good thing about being stuck in La Paz before coming to Jacj Cuisi, is we met Gaz & Nat in our hostel when we were supposed to be at the Parque
They had been waiting on the road for a couple of hours in the dark, with no luck of finding a lift, so they decided to come back for the night & leave early in the morning.
Today was Monday, which meant it was Rurrenabaque day, AK knew he wasn't going to be drinking tonight after Saturday nights performance. Gaz, Nat & Pete had left early in the morning & caught a lift, to be able to catch their flight later in the morning.
After breakfast AK went out with Kate for the first time with Lishou, he would be showing her the trails for the next week. SJ had to go on construction for the morning, and then go out with Kate to show her Luna's trails in the afternoon. SJ spent the morning digging 7ft holes! Well, the holes were already dug but they needed to be deeper. Sj didn't actually mind the digging, she liked it a lot more than carrying bags of sand! AK & Kate kept Lishou out until about 1pm, then returned for lunch, then SJ & Dave took Kate back out to see Luna in the afternoon
Later on in the afternoon, half of us were back at camp, getting ready to head into Rurre, and the other half were still on the construction site. As it was so hard to hitch a lift into town, we decided to leave when we were ready, and meet the others in town later. We were about to leave, when a truck turned up which Kyle had to direct to the construction site, AK & SJ were already heading to the road & stopped a minibus as soon as they got there which just happened to have space for two people, so they quickly jumped on.
We arrived in Rurrenabaque, and found an alternative hostel to the twenty boliviano one we'd stayed at with the other workers in past weeks, this was the first step towards having a much needed drunk free night. We checked in to our hostel, found out the wifi didn't work, then headed out to dinner at the usual weekly spot....Juliano's. On the way out we spotted a German couple who we met in our hostel back in La Paz about a month earlier, they told us they were coming to Jacj Cuisi for a couple of weeks on Friday. They'd remembered us talking about it in La Paz, and decided between that time that they would work there for a short while.
We were beginning to think that the others might not have managed to find a lift into town, until we were almost finished with our meal and they all walked in
Dave was already half dunk when they turned up, which was the normal script, he was disappointed he was down two drinking partners this week, but SJ & AK weren't gonna be convinced to stay out. We left everyone in Juliano's, and headed back to he hostel to get some rest.
AK was hoping that Kyle would get a chance to talk to a man called el niño whilst in Rurrenabaque, he was a Mogli type character that was an expert in the surrounding jungle. Kyle had done a private tour with him a few weeks before which AK liked the sound of, it wasn't touristy because he went to places that all the tour groups didn't. Kate had also done a tour with him before she came to the Parque, and she had nothing but good things to say about it....even seeing a wild Jaguar!
We woke up early after a good sleep, which felt good after the last few weeks, then headed out to our typical South American hostel breakfast....bread & jam. We went out for most of the day, which would be long & hot in the Rurre heat. First we stopped off at the French bakery, AK wasn't too impressed with it last week, but scoffed down a pan de chocolate in no time, and bought a slice of pizza for later. SJ bought a load of tasty pastries to last a couple of days. We then bumped into Bruno, a sweet dog that knew the kindest and friendliest people were gringos! SJ, needless to say SJ fell in love with him from the first week and each time she bumped into him she wanted to take him home
We also used a lot of our time to go on the Internet, and catch up with what ever is going on in the outside world, as usual AK went straight for the sports news. This week was extra urgent for him, as it was the first week of the football season so he wanted to see how Liverpool got on, so it was a bit of an anti climax for him when he found out they got turned over three nil by West Brom.
We spoke to our parents, and bought our supplies for the week, before meeting up with the rest of the workers outside their hostel, later on in the day. They had done the inevitable the night before, and stayed up all night drinking, getting hardly any sleep....an event SJ & AK were glad they missed out on this time.
We made our way to the river, to make the crossing to San Buena Ventura at the other side, where we bought some fried chicken to eat whilst waiting for our lift back to camp, it was here, eating the chicken on a bench, where AK, Kyle & Kate hatched a plan to go on their own jungle expedition for four days, when they finished the week after. It sounded crazy, three gringos going into the jungle alone, especially when everyone in Rurre talks about the Israeli lad who went in alone & got lost, only to be found by a local guide, apparently he wrote a book about his experience. Anyway the plan was to try & follow the same trail that Kate went on with el niño, it led to a waterfall deep in the jungle, well off the beaten track.
While AK was doing this trip, SJ would fly to La Paz for one night to pick up the things she left there when they left, then bus to Sucre where she would meet up with Hayley, one of the girls who we had hiked to Machu Picchu with
After the excitement of the trip planning, and the really uncomfortable journey back to camp, we were all ready for bed, to get ready for a new week, AK's & SJ's last week. SJ had mixed emotions, she was glad it was the last week after the previous week being so tough but she was certain she would miss the Parque and Luna.
Day 22 ****
We woke up to find we had been joined by an extra five Bolivian construction workers, who came from La Paz to do welding on site & erect the steel frames for the new monkey enclosure. These were five fat men, who liked to eat a lot of food, which we later found out.
Also the night before, we had been joined by two new volunteers, they came back to camp with us from San Buena, so we were already familiar with them. We ate our bread for breakfast, which tasted even better with the peanut butter & bananas AK & SJ bought from Rurre the day before, then headed off to the cats. It was a pretty straight forward walk with Lishou, he got a bit angry when the rain started, but they were used to him moaning & grumbling
In the afternoon AK went on to construction, he couldn't do too much though as he'd pulled a muscle in his back, so found it hard to lift. Later in the evening we turned up for dinner, which is when we found out about the greed of the Bolivian steel workers. Bearing in mind they had done nothing but stand around all day, while everyone else in the camp was either walking puma's in the hot jungle heat, or doing some hard construction work in the hot sun, we got up first to serve ourselves, taking a modest portion in order to give everyone else a fair chance. The fat five got up & loaded a mountain of food onto their plates, without giving any concern to both the people who hadn't eaten, and the other people who'd only taken a smaller portion. This pissed the whole table off, but nothing was said this time as nobody wanted to upset the flow of work, it was hard enough trying to finish a construction job in Bolivia.
This morning we woke up & headed to breakfast, again it was bread, which we didn't care about because of our peanut butter & bananas. The fat five rolled up & crammed five pieces of bread onto their plates, this again pissed everybody at the table off, so we just mentioned it to one of the coordinators
They also took a bunch of bananas without telling anyone, then asked for some to take to site with them, acting like they had none already.
Whilst walking Lishou with Kate, AK was sitting on the floor, analysing a giant ant, when he seen a meter long, black, yellow & red snake, the first one he'd seen since being in the jungle, and typically never had his camera on him, this would be a reason for him to bring it out every day until we left, even just to get more photos of Lishou.
Later on in camp & it was the same script with the fat five at dinner, this time was too much for every body not to say anything. The Bolivian workers left the table, then the rest of us sat around talking & listening to music. AK, Kyle & Kate had got to work on planning & making a list for their jungle expedition, a trip that a few of the guys in the camp were envious of. After a while it was off to our dorm, where we all got into bed & helped Kate out with one of her cross words....which we were pretty terrible at.
Today when AK & Kate went out with Lishou, they took the new lad with them to start training him on the big male puma
In the afternoon, Felix & Hannah, the German couple who we knew, had turned up & had already started to get familiar with the other volunteers. They were lucky as they turned up as lunch was being served, not bad timing, they were soon introduced to the tradition of rock paper scissors at meal time for the dishes. After three weeks of boycotting due to a few losses early on, SJ was back in the game & had a decent streak too! Also at some point in the day, the fat five had packed up & left, leaving the job only half finished....all because they couldn't eat five times as much as everyone else!
AK was on dinner tonight, with a couple of new Australian volunteers, they decided to knock up a chilli sin carne (chilli without meat). It went down pretty well, and, as with every meal at Jacj Cuisi, there were no leftovers at the end. An unexpected cake was being made after dinner, some kind of apple cake that nobody turned down, always a welcome treat at the Parque!
While the cake was being baked, AK Kyle & SJ were writing hai ku's in Daves book. He used this book to write wacky riddles that were three lines long, with five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five again on the third, they were all funny, park related riddles, usually involving the subjects of potable, coca leaves, or pumas
We awoke to a storm that had being going on most of the night, it wasn't a major storm but it had been raining hard none the less. We got the call for breakfast which was later than usual today, but this was because the lads on breakfast duty were making fried eggs and fried plantain balls. After breakfast we had a meeting with Nina, she was one of the founders of Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi. Nina was usually based at Parque Ambue Ari, but she had come to Jacj Cuisi for a few days to check the progress of the new monkey enclosure.
Because it was raining so hard, the decision was made that we would feed the cats early, do some chores around the camp, then leave to go drinking in Santa Ana, the same place we went the Saturday before when Ak got excited with the potable. AK went with Kyle to feed the Pumitas one last time, and got a couple of photos and a little video while they were there.
The chores were done and it was time to all start making our way to Santa Ana. At first we done the usual waiting on the road for twenty minutes or so, then when nothing came we started to walk
As soon as they arrived in Santa Ana, they went to the same shack at the side of the road as last week, and quickly bought themselves a cold beer. While waiting for the others to arrive, they discussed their small expedition in a few days, which they had been talking about all week.
AK an Kyle had been drinking and talking for about an hour, when a big truck pulled up outside, they seen Dave & Pete sat in the front with the driver, and thought they must've caught a lift before everyone else. Two minutes later, the back of the truck was opened, and about ten people spilled out, apparently it was a pretty bumpy ride, but it was good that they all got there together never the less.
This week we brought a football to Santa Ana with us, they had a pretty big footy pitch there, and there was plenty of people to play. After a beer and a quick bite to eat, everyone headed across the road to the field, where they were met by a group of about seven locals
The game finished only because the sun had gone down, which was good for AK as he'd been playing with the bad back he'd picked up the week before. It was back across the road to the shack where we ordered more beers and contemplated the walk home ahead, which was more fun when drunk....happy days for AK. SJ decided to leave early for the long walk home with Felix & Hannah, while AK and the others still had unfinished business there.
The time had come for everyone else to leave, people started walking in different groups, AK & Kyle bought a bag of coca leaves for the walk, then left with Kate. Another three hour walk home crossing streams in the pitch black, and everyone was home in one piece. AK didn't drink potable this week walking home, but Dave did, which meant he was smashed by the time they got home.
Business as usual at the Parque today, AK, Kate (2) and James went walking Lishou. AK brought his camera so he could get a few more pictures of him with Lishou. SJ spent the morning washing clothes in the sink, and getting her stuff together ready to leave tomorrow.
One last dinner time for AK & SJ at Jacj Cuisi, everyone sat round the table talking, swapping contact details and eating.
AK woke up at 6:50 on the last morning, Kyle was meant to be up to make breakfast at 6:15, and AK noticed he was still well away in bed. Kyle was woken up, and AK headed to the kitchen with him to help make breakfast. They decided as it was their last day, they would make a bigger breakfast than usual.
Breakfast wasn't served until after eight, it was usually between seven and half past. Nobody complained though as they had made crepes with chocolate sauce/sugar & lemon, hash browns, and boiled eggs. Everyone wasted no time in demolishing their meal. Their was plenty of chocolate sauce left over, which promoted Dave to run to the tuck shop to but crackers and a chocolate bar to dip in, this caused a mini chocolate frenzy between Dave, Kyle, AK & Molly, who took the tub of warm chocolate to outside the tuck shop, and finish it off in no time, along with Kyles peanut butter.
A late start and it was time to take Lishou out one more time, reality had hit that we were leaving after spending time with our cats for almost a month. AK said his final goodbyes to Lishou, who wouldn't stop licking his arm before he left.
After lunch it was time to take some last photos of our friends at the Parque, and say some very hard last goodbyes. AK, SJ and Kyle made their way to querubena's house to get pictures with her, Dimitrio, Miriam & Vanessa, and also Jael and Catalina.
We thanked Querubena for the opportunity to work at Jacj Cuisi, and she thanked us for helping out. We said goodbye to Dave, we had become pretty good friends with him while we were there, he had a pretty good head on his shoulders for a twenty year old, a couple more Mexican jokes with him, and we were off. We would be meeting all the volunteers in Rurre later on they night anyway, as it was Monday.
SJ, AK and Kyle sat on the road outside the Parque waiting for a lift, while waiting Kyle showed his grandfathers engineers compass, which they would use as a useful piece of equipment on the jungle trek, along with "La Puta", AK's trusty machete that he'd named "the bitch" a few days after getting to the Parque. AK wrote down the bearings of where we were, from the compass, then a bus came along with enough space to fit three of us on
We had only been on the bus for about fifteen minutes, when a man got on with a rifle, machete and a rice sack full of whatever he'd caught in the jungle. He had his rifle by his side, sat in front of SJ & Kyle with the gun unintentionally pointing at them. With all the bumps we were driving over, SJ and Kyle didn't fancy taking the chance, so they swiftly shifted to one side of the seat.
We got Rurre, booked SJ's flight to La Paz on Wednesday and checked into a hostel that Kyle had recommended as we were meeting Kate there. AK, Kate and Kyle went out to buy fishing line and hooks for their trip, while SJ took her time getting ready & met us at the Internet cafe. By this time the other volunteers had arrived at the usual hostel, so we all got together and went for our weekly steak at Juliano's followed by drinks at Luna Lounge. We didn't get too drunk though, AK was going on a big adventure the following day and SJ was flying to La Paz......a big day for both of us. We said a sad farewell to the great friends we had made at Jacj Cuisi.