Sunday, October 22, 2006

Catching up on a rainy day

Wow finally a fast connection that lets me into blogger, and plenty of time to kill! We've just crossed back into Peru and are staying in Puno, which has no particular attraction except being the port on lake titicaca from which we can visit an island tomorrow, and it's pouring, so we aren't budging from this internet anytime soon. So let's catch up, shall we?

So thinking back to the jungle, we started off in Rurrenabaque, the touristy jungle town that's the jumping off point to tours. We did NOT enjoy our first night there, as we were treated to a live band playing ON OUR ROOF (technically part of the military building next door) from 11pm to 3am, when mercifully the town cuts off the electricity. Now normally I am patient with noise, but they were ON OUR ROOF, so it felt like being inside a speaker. It was admitedly, nominally better than the dance party our downstairs neighbors threw a few weeks back during which they cranked the volume louder than any club i've heard, and 90% of the time played THREE SONGS. (The shakira hips song, the horrible reggaton "na na na" song, and a normally enjoyable spanish pop song "una gota de tu voz". over. and over. and over. all night.) But we had to start our 5 hour canoe ride at 8 am the next day, so we were NOT happy. Actually, the canoe ride was lovely. I'd take a 10 hour canoe ride over a 10 hour bus ride any day. Smooth ride, cool breeze, and great scenery. We saw a pair of macaws (they only mate once, and for life, and can live to 60 or more!) and other cool birds whose names i certainly do not remember. One of the guys helping to navigate (there was a motor, but also a pilot with a pole and this other guy helping to push our way through the shallows.) provided excitement by catching a fish, later losing his hat in the water so that we had to come back and rescue it, and finally wading off to a random point on the share, fish in hand.
During our stay at Chalalan we took a bunch of hikes (they have a great system of trails around the lake), took nightly canoe rides around the lake (both before dinner and after) to see all the wildlife, and hiked up to a mirador (lookout point) where you can see to the border of the parque nacional madidi. The one rainy day was our last full day, and we had already seen all kinds of things, so there was no pressure to go out and suffer in the rain like the other people who had a shorter stay. So I got to lay in the hammock and finally read up on peru and relax. The last night we had a "traditional feast" which mostly involved a traditional fish wrapped in leaves, and a salad bar. That was followed by a performace by the local musicians and a coca chewing ceremony. I wasn't too exited for that because it sounded super forced and touristy (they do it every time a group is leaving, which means every few days!) but it wasn't at all. After the performance, we were all still hanging out and chatting, everyone kept adding to their coca wad, and our guides picked up their own instruments and joined the musicians in jamming for about another hour.
The next day we reluctantly returned to Rurre, which meant another lovely canoe ride. Although we dislike Rurre (hot, mosquitoes, a million tourists, higher prices because everything is imported from the main cities.)and did not want to stay the extra day there (our flight was delayed, as usually happens because it is in the jungle and it gets muddy) we found a lovely little restaurant and a really nice bar that played excellent music (morcheeba, and no regeton!) and had a pool table.
The next morning we got out on the first flight, thankfully, and spent another lovely day in La Paz. We found a lovely hotel, did some artesania shopping (which we had put off so as not to drag our purchases around bolivia), had good food, and mailed more postcards.
The next day we did a day trip to Tiahuanacu, the ruins of the capital of the Pre-inca cvilization of the same name. It was actually around for about 3,000 years, which only the egyptians can match! It's funny to look at timelines of south american indigenous civilizations, because they all stetch out over thousands of years, and the incas barely fit on the chart at the end with 200ish years. some cool stuff, which will be much more interesting when i post the pictures. TO do it you really have to go with a guide, which meant going on an organized tour from the city - ick. But fortunately it was not completely overrun with backpacking europeans, we talked mostly with a lovely and typically effusive argentinian couple and a friendly bolivian woman who had been there before and was more interested in chatting with me about evo.
After the ruins we had a financial adventure that severely cut into our shopping time... my dad had had his debit card retained by an evil ATM machine at the airport the previous day. (not his fault, the machine was just confused.) which was fun - no one on site to do anything, as the designated spanish speaker i got to call the number and explain the sit. The atm guy said all we would have to do is go to a central office in the city the next day. OK, so it's the next evening, we finally find the bulding, and the office on the 11th floor, and the card isn't there. Apparently its still at the bank, but we can't go to the bank, it has to be sent to this central agency. Logically. Luckily they took pity on us and sent a messenger and we didn't have to wait tooo long. And we still got all kinds of goodies that i will try not to keep for myself, but rather bestow upon you lucky people as presents for the upcoming holiday season.
Long story short we did get out of la paz friday morning, atm cards and presents in tow. As this post is running on and the rain is slowing and our stomachs rumbling, I will leave our story in Copacabana. Up next: the gorgeous lake Titicaca! (i'll preempt linda's "hehe, titicaca!")


  1. Those nameless birds on the river included vultures, kites, egrets, cormorants, herons of three sorts, and indeed, numerous unnamed birds smaller than a breadbox. Did she mention the three or four varieties of monkeys?

  2. Well, my exploits don't begin to compare to yours so I won't mention them. As for the ATM story, having just checked the bank balance I must say I'm sad that they didn't retain Dad's card for a few more days. Rebecca, it's been a few months since your wallet got lost or stolen so I fully expect one of those stories next...
    Haha! just kidding.