Monkey Business and the Frederico Fiasco

Trip Start Nov 17, 2006
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12
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Trip End Jan 24, 2007


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Update 11: Monkey Business & the Frederico Fiasco
Location: Rurrenabaque (Jungle), Bolivia
Date: Friday 29th Dec 06

Christmas day arrived here in Bolivia and whilst you were giving and receiving presents in Australia and elsewhere, Steve & I were on board a military flight to the Jungle in North-West Bolivia - my very first jungle christmas. I think the best thing about the flight was the fact that the cost was 666 Bolivianos (the devils number - oooo) and when we looked closer at the plane when we got out, we found that it did indeed have sticky tape on the propellors - very comforting. We also met up with an amazing couple from Canada who we ended up doing our trip with, having christmas dinner with, and also having dinner once back in La Paz.

One of the best things about getting to the jungle was the heat - it was so nice to not be cold all the time, as it has been for the previous few weeks of our trip. Having said that, i caught a bit of a cold in the jungle heat, and was so sick of the humidity and mosquitos that i was glad to get back to La Paz on the Friday.

We spent christmas day lounging around in hammocks in our hostel which was on the riverbank and dodging mosquitos - although they werent that bad there. We found a great bar for dinner and in true blue style i ordered a steak for my christmas dinner! Not quite amazing but it was my first semi-proper piece of beef in like 5 weeks so that was great (bring on argentina for the beef!)

The next day we headed off on our 3-day 'pampas' tour which was not exactly jungle but more of a river/swamp trip. After a 3 hour jeep ride out to the river, we piled out the back of the car and strectched our legs before alighting into our canoe which was partly made out of a hollowed log and consisted of wooden plank seats - perfect for our trip. I must say that i was definitely the trendsetter when it came to style for the trip! I had my shirt tucked in as far as it could go, not withstanding my jeans tucked into my socks! YouŽll see it in paris next year!

On our 3 hour boat ride on day 1 of the tour, we stopped frequently to look at different animals - aligators, birds, monkeys and turtles. The highlight was definitely when we stopped by this one tree to look at some smallish yellow monkeys. We could see a few here and there, and then our guide pulled out a couple of bananas. Before he could open the banana, there was over a dozen of these little critters on of just next to the boat and ate out of our hands. It was really quite amazing and their little hands/paws were really strong - they could rip stuff right out of your hand!

Later in the evening, once it had got dark, we went aligator spotting in the boat with our torches. We didnt have to go far to spot one, in fact we went just 20m, and we spotted one. Thats right, one right on the doorstep of our ranch as i like to call it, just 5m from the kitchen area. Our guide told us that the particular aligator they call Frederico, and he was 35 years old or something - he was about 2m long. Being typical boys, we were quite stupid about it, jumping out of the boat, onto the bank where the aligator was, and proceeded to take stupid photos. We left after a bit after it slipped just into the water, saw another one and ended up coming back soon there after. BUT that wasnt the end of the stupidity! Once back at the dock, we proceeded back to where we had seen Frederico before and shone our lights on him. After a bit, he moved a little into a pounce position with his head just out of the water facing the bank. We immediately took a step back. After a few more minutes he came out the water a couple of metres- just slowly, but it was enough to have us move back proportionally. We were still taking stupid photos and i have one where i have my toothbrush in my hand, with my back to the aligator, who was about 2-3metres behind me... We were joking about who had the just to run around the aligator, but truth be the Spirit of Steve Irwin was just not there and we eventually retreated to our lovely mosquito nets for the evening.

We went looking for anacondas on the second morning but there was just too much water around to find one. We did however manage to find plenty of mosquitos - who would have thought!

Another highlight of the trip was swimming in the same river system as we had seen these aligators with pink river dolphins. We did this twice - in the afternoon of the second day and on the morning of the third day. The first time there was a pod of 10-12 of these dolphins and we would be swimming around in water where you couldnt see anything because of the leaf-stain and suddendly a dolphin would touch you - it was never us touching it - and it was always such a surprise - i think i had 3 touches on the first time. The second time however, i got one. there was a pod of perhaps 6 of these dolphins and i swum to the narrow point of the opening and one came up right next to me! i reached out and touched the back quarter of it, and this time it was the dolphins turn to be surprised and he kicked off in a hurry.

Upon returning to the jeep on the third day we drove for a bit before trying our luck at pirhana fishing. i would like to say i caught something but all i managed was to catch my hook with no bait on. No one ever did catch one though:

Happy new years to you all!
Nath
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