February 4, 2011

The Pampa's; preview to the jungle and the Amazon river

 One of my favorite things about 3rd world countries and their rural airports are the fact that the runways are dirt and located in the middle of the jungle usually, covered in mud.  This airplane is abnormally large for such a little airstrip.  but I love it anyways.  If you notice I was wearing a jacket, leggings etc... because La Paz is really cold, but the second they open the cockpit door and you walk out of the plane, in this little city called Rurrenabaque.... the 100% humidity 100 degree weather hits you like a wall of wet sticky yuckiness.... Bolivia’s Amazon Basin is one of the world’s largest intact wilderness areas. The rain-forests, swamps and wetland savannas, through which many rivers flow, combined with many villages make for an awesome adventure. There is a sheer abundance of wildlife, including monkeys, alligators, macaws and  anacondas, piranhas and many types of birds.
 I dislike humidity more than most other things in life.  This picture demonstrates the runway carved out of the jungle and my friends all walking to the jeep for our 3 hour jeep ride to the Amazon river, which proved to be terrible, because there are no such things as paved roads here and it's more like a 3 hour long roller coaster.  Luckily I don't get car sick and don't mind the bumpiness for about 2 1/2 hours.  The heat is what gets to you.
 If you look behind me you will see a sheet of water, this demonstrates the flash rainstorms that come on without warning and leave just as quickly as they arrived.

We started our awesome Pamapa's Amazona tour in log canoes, they are essentially really long logs, dug out in the middle with the sides built up.  They made me a bit nervous at first, but our guide, said that it is nearly impossible to capsize them. Next I'm going to share with you many of the awesome animals that I saw along my treck on the river!

 In this photo, if you look really closely you can see the eyes of an alligator, we were in our canoe just slowly moving past it, while his eyes checked us out.
 this bird is very common in the Pampa's it is called Hoatzin or Bird of Paradise
 These two big daddies are called the Amazon King Fishers, very majestic and at least a few feet tall, massive birds!
 This guy is the largest rodent in the world he is called Capybara.  They are essentially large rats, cute little guys right?
So the first day I arrived in Bolivia, I had a meeting with my professor Dr. Lanza and Gonzalo Caure and I asked them "Where can I pet monkeys"  they didn't really have an answer, after that I made it my goal to pet and hold a monkey and if you look at my lap...... ahhhhhh an adorable bright yellow monkey!
NOT ONLY DID I HOLD ONE, THEY CLIMBED ALL OVER ME AND SAT ON MY HEAD.  If you will notice, we are all wearing jackets and long socks etc.... turns out the mosquito's eat you alive there, and our guides failed to tell us to buy DEET, so in the 100 degree 10% humidity we were dressed for the snow.  But worst of all.... these mosquito's EAT THROUGH YOUR PANTS they are genetically evolved to eat through your clothes, you have to drench your clothes in DEET in order to avoid being eaten alive.  Later when we got some DEET we were able to go in swimsuits and not die.... but until then winter in the Amazon!

This HOT fella was hanging out by our lodge when we arrived.  We just waited it out in the boat.  It's funny because when we arrived he started walking away and there was a boat of 6 or so people already there just sitting in the boat, and they told us that they thought the Gator was fake, because he didn't move for so long and didn't realize he was real until we pulled up.  They thought their guide was just having them look at a stuffed gator!  Good thing they didn't get out of the boat!
This is a picture of my housing for two days, my cabin is the one on the right.  You have the walk-ways in order to not get wet in the rainy season and avoid the local gator who slept under my house all night long.
Me, And my awesome friend Maria, Justin and Craig enjoying the mosquito's and the sunset!
Finally some shelter from those crazy mosquito's in this mesh "common area" complete with 15 hammocks and you could actually not wear winter-clothing in there.  Pretty awesome, I thought I was going to die from the heat!
One of the activities that you do at night is go Croc and Gator hunting at night.  I got this great picture of a spider eating and spinning it's prey in it's web.
If you look closely in this picture you will see a small glowing light in the top middle of the photo.  That is a Caiman Crocodile.  At night you go in the canoes and search for them in the bushes, by shining you flashlight and it catches the croc's eyes and glows intensely.  I have a lot of these glowing eyeballs.  It's a bit creepy to see them slowly creep back into the shadows and the glowing eyes disappear.
This is me with my night-time alligator neighbor that slept under my house.  Turns out he's pretty friendly and if you feed him chicken you can pet his nose.  Apparently he's a local at this eco-lodge!
The next activity for the next day was my LEAST-FAVORITE although these pictures do not do it justice we went ANACONDA HUNTING. We trekked through a couple miles of marsh-swamp land in galloshes (mine had at least ten holes in them) trying to find them.  We were out there almost three hours  and the mosquitos were insane and it was raining.  As my friend Guy likes to say "We're trying to find the Anaconda's, isn't it the other way around, they are supposed to find us!"  We didn't end up finding any... secretly I was VERY HAPPY THAT WE DIDN'T FIND AN ANACONDA!

NOW THIS PICTURE IS VERY SPECIAL, BECAUSE I WAS ABLE TO CATCH BRIEFLY THE BLOW HOLE OF A PINK DOLPHIN, THEY ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO TAKE PICTURES OF,  it's located to the right of the canoe and looks more like a white frothy thing rather than the blow hole of the dolphin. 
This area with the dolphins is where we went swimming because they scare away the croc's and so it is relatively safe to swim there.  It was so fun and such a neat experience, I never got to actually touch one, sometimes they come up really close to you and nip your feet and play with you, these one's didn't they just swam near us.  The picture above is us hanging onto our canoe and being dragged around by it while swimming.
This adorable guy is called Rutherford (I named him) the Three-Toed-Sloth, he is freakin adorable!
More Rutherford the Sloth!
After our swimming adventures we went to the "futbal field"  where we played a rousing game of soccer, in a half soaked, muddy field along with our friends the Ostriches!!!  I was the only girl that played and I soon realized why many didn't, I was soaked from head to toe in mud.
Here is Me, Justin and Guy's victory shot.  We lost the game 3 to 4 (to the Bolivian's) we were the Gringo's.  I actually made a great goal just before being pummeled into the mud and eating some sort of manure.  I topped it off with a victory mud slide into the goal!!!  I just can't get over our Ostrich team mates though, it was so funny!

My awesome Pampa's Amazona vaccacion ended SOOOOO WELL with a huge bottle of DEET and my good friend the Caiman Crocodile PEPE!!!
Best wishes mi amigos!
Hope you've enjoyed my adventures!

Love, Kim    
Some other animals I met are:
-Howler monkeys

·         Brown capuchin monkey
·         Capybara
·         Pink river dolphin
·         Black caiman
·         Spectacled caiman
·         Yellow spotted river turtle
·         Macaws and parrots
·         Hummingbirds
·         Herons
·         Amazon kingfisher
·         Black vulture
·         Three-toed sloth
·         Red brovker deer
·         Anaconda: 3!
·         Toucans
·         Paradise bird/hoatzin
·         Storks
·         Red cap cardinal and red crested cardinal
·         Turkey vulture


Bekah and Kyle said...

Oh my goodness- your trip is absolutely AMAZING...and that is those are the cutest monkeys ever!!!

Let the Good Times Roll said...

Kim! Wow, I have loved reading about your adventures, SO COOL! What an awesome opportunity and adventure for you. PS - why are you there?

Anonymous said...

WOW! This is like a national geographic magazine. I am so jealous of all your adventures, you are so Indiana Jones style now. That sloth is awesome and those monkeys are so cute! I bet you just wanted to take one home, were you allergic to them?


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