Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ever had a monkey run and jump on you? Only in Bolivia

I wonder how awake he really is... I sat in the back of this van, busy watching the eyes of the driver in the mirror. Were they tired, was he perhaps drunk last night and since we agreed to meet to start the trip at 4 AM, maybe he was still drunk? These were the thoughts I had. I had a flash back to being 15 again and at that lesson in drivers education where they taught us to never cross a double yellow, and more so, never pass another vehicle by entering on coming traffic on a blind curve. As I nervously gripped the seat in front of me, I wondered why they did not teach the same basic lesson in Bolivia. Life is a game of calculated risks, and the math just seems so much more fuzzy in this crazy country. And this day, beginning at 3:45 AM, would be no different.

After hours in a crowded van with a driver who seemed to accelerate more when it rained and when we were on unpaved roads, we at last reached our destination, THE JUNGLE! And so this is a glimpse of my crazy weekend in the jungles of Bolivia...

I played with monkeys eager for human attention, and sneaky enough to steal anything in your pockets and disappear into the wilderness once again. I thought the monkeys were crazy until I found myself looking through thick jungle and just 10 feet away making eye contact with a full grown Puma. The leash its master held it on was comforting, a fence would have been a little more comforting, but amenities such as those are hard to come across.

If monkeys and pumas were not enough, I went into the heart of the jungle, via a rope line over a river to view mysterious plants, big insects, and walk into the heart of caves full of bats excitedly flying all around your head, paralyzing your mind.

I tried to visit an Orchid farm, and it being closed, took the advice of our tour guide to just trespassed and spend some time looking at leaves the size of half my body, beautiful flowers, and oh yeah, crocodiles, because that is all part of the experience.

That would have been enough for me but apparently no trip to the jungle is complete without a trip to their amusement park, the Jungle (creative title, no?). This jungle was great, after you got over the fear that the slim piece of wood they called a seat and the rope that went over your shoulder they called a seat belt was anything but secure. All that needs to be said is love me or not, you might want to start paying the small fee for life insurance in my name, it might one day yield great results... Just kiddin, kinda. Something about jumping off a platform, held only by rotting wood, tethered rope, and an old tree branch both frightens and amuses. I was about to do the tallest of the jumps until I saw it go not to well for a friend, and mom you will be proud, it was the first time where my common sense (this is not how I picture my life ending) won out over my ego.

Maybe the life insurance won´t be needed after all, and while some of this might frighten some of you (hi mom) rest assured, I am having the time of my life in the jungle that is metaphorically and physically, Bolivia.

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