Voyage to the Amazon Basin
We gave Jamey´s stomach infection from the Lake Titicaca trout a couple of days to work itself out in the Bolivian canyon capital that is La Paz. While he lounged around the bathroom area getting the devil out of him, I scoured the streets for cheap plane tickets to Rurrenabaque, gateway to the Amazon Basin. The third morning we woke up early, took a taxi to the world´s highest airport, loaded the plane, listened as the engines cranked up and began to roll down the runway. We made it not far down the runway before they stopped the plane and told everybody to get off and wait inside the terminal. We watched from the glass walls of the waiting lounge as they drove the one plane off the runway and rolled a different one in its place, which also looked like a secondhand plane from the States during the 70´s, ashtrays still with the seats. We proceeded to load, unload, and load this plane due to claims of foul weather at our destination. We eventually took off about five hours after departure time.
Once we arrived in Rurrenabaque ´twas evident their claims of bad weather were justified, the town was experiencing its worst flood for twenty years. We happy to be out of the city and asked the lady at the hotel if it was safe to swim in the river and she responded with the week´s statistics of twelve dead from the might of the river. We settled for swimming in the weaker area where the river´s flow had consumed main street and local children were taking full advantage by bringing out all their best floatables.
We had to stay around town a few days longer than planned because the roads to the pampas, where the tour was to be had, were too soggy and boggy for driving. But it was pleasant wait, probably my favorite town visited in Bolivia, we mostly passed the time in hammocks and the market playing Rummy for rice dishes. When the tour finally came to fruition it was pretty awesome. Just three days of cruising around swamps in a boat full of Israelis and our jungle man guide, Elvis. It was really just a constant search for the critters: pink river dolphins, monkeys, alligators, caymen, snakes, ostrices, turtles, rat-pigs, and a myriad of birds. We failed in the task of finding Andocandas & Jaguars.