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Ben and Ange - On the Road

Rainy Rurre

BOLIVIA | Friday, 20 June 2008 | Views [642]

Sunset at Rurrenbaque looking over river Beni

Sunset at Rurrenbaque looking over river Beni

Rurrenabaque is this gorgeous jungle town nestled in some jungle covered foothills near the Madidi National Park and alongside the mighty Beni river. Its one of those places that has a very WET wet season, which can leave travellers kinda stuck in town since the grass runway gets badly flooded and the buses struggle with roads that have turned to complete mud! Phew - lucky we were there in the DRY season then aye? Shame it rained for 5 days though.

We were fortunate enough to arrive in town BEFORE the rain kicked in.  Our 10hr bus trip from Trinidad was quite something.  The washed out bumpy and often muddy road was well handled by the jalopy we were riding in.  As were the river crossings.  These consisted of the jalopy making its way down a recently shovelled mud slide towards the river.  Here a barge/raft/collection of planks was waiting.  Some careful alignment and clever plank placement saw the jalopy safely on board.  Then the wee canoe/dinghy thingy buts up against the raft and proceeds to push the whole affair across the river.  

All the while, vendors have flocked in and around the bus to sell their epanadas etc and most of the passengers have flocked off the bus to pee or have a smoke.  Of course this is when we get to see the famous pink river dolphins frollicking all about the barge.  And all in the price of a bus fare to Rurre!  Bargain!!

Along the "roads" we´ve also spotted caymen (crocodile thingys) and in Ben´s words... "big lily thingys", which turned out to be ENORMOUS lily pads.  Honestly - these things were big enough to sun-bake on!  If you were a smallish child that is.  But still... BIG!  

As night set in and any chance of sleep was obliterated by a happy combination of near-tipping bus manouvers, the god-AWFUL Bolivian music being played at full volume and the Trinidad local football team singing along to this god-awful music, we resorted to ipod isolation time.  A lot can be said for painfully loud Rage Against the Machine at such times.

Of course our arrival into Rurre was timed perfectly with the setting in on some pretty constant water from the sky.  Given we´d just come through a month of busy-ness, work and early rises we weren´t too put out by having to just laze around for a bit.  Besides... there was a wee pub with a decent book exchange and half price mojitos!  Whats to complain about?  After a couple of days of watching the goings on of town, we embarked on a wee trip into the Madidi national park.  

We were taken up river (including making our way UP some wee rapids which is pretty impressive) to the tour agency´s jungle camp, from which we get to go on some jungle walks with a guide.  He´d been in the game for 15 or so years... so needless to say, was pretty chock-block with information.  We discovered a tree sap that can poison your enemies (used on the tips of indiginous tribal arrows), an ant that could cure snoring, a bark for diahorrea, leaves to dye things purple, a seed to alleviate rhumatism and much much more!  I tell ya - this place was a veritable pharmacy!  If only I could tell one tree/leaf/sap from the other.  With my level of knowledge I probly would have poisoned myself, given my snoring friend the runs and dyed some old persons sore joints purple!

As good as our guide was - I think he got the most enjoyment out of the trip.  We´d come to a monster of a fallen tree.  Clambered up onto it and were perching for a wee rest and look around.  Only the branch we had decided to perch on didn´t hold!  As it started to slide the 7ft to the jungle floor, Ben and I have simultaneously lunged to grab another branch.  I´ve recovered ok, but Ben had further to lunge and has ended up on his belly clambering madly back up to our platform.  The guide was a spectator in all of this and nearly laughed himself off his own branch! We clearly made his day.

So with one eye on our guide for our own safety and the other on the surrounding jungle we enjoyed the rest our time in the amazon basin. We tracked a few aninmals like howler monkeys and chanchos but mostly we just enjoyed the plant life. From the huge old trees to the amazing different pattens of the fungi growing everywhere.

So after our couple of days in the jungle we returned to Rurrenbaque with the sun starting to peer through the clouds. Our hopes of the weather changing for the better where quickly quashed as that afternoon we were treated to a thunderstorm and a night of solid rain. WHAT dry season? This place has more rain than tourists! So again no flights were leaving Rurre and the thought of the bus did cross our minds, and just as quickly the thought was crossed out of our minds. Lazing in our hammocks we caught sight of a bedraggled looking pair checking in and catching up with some friends. 26 HOURS BY BUS. The rain had taken it´s toll on the road and they had to push their bus out of the mud!! This on the worlds most dangerous road too. So hmmm no we wouldn´t be doing that when it only takes 45 minutes by plane.

So the final couple of days we just waited for the weather to clear which it finally did and the back log of flights to leave. We did in this time attempt to walk up the nearby hill to the local lookout but navigating the way up the hill would of tested even the finest of explorers. Directions Bolivian style, can´t beat them. So we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would have to just laze around the pubs and watch the football looking over the river and it´s sunsets. IT IS SUCH A HARD LIFE PEOPLE!!


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