the previous night we had stayed up kinda late drinking and playing cards so at 4:45am when we were woken up to Satan screaming, i cant say that i was overjoyed. ok, maybe it wasn’t *really* Satan screaming, but it pretty much sounded like it. in the pampas there are these monkeys called Howler Monkeys. they’re named that because they are constantly howling really loud. but, their howling doesnâ€™t really sound like howling. it sounds more like this crazy evil sounding super loud growling sound. it really does sound like something really really freaking evil is lurking in the trees. i still have no idea how such a tiny little monkey can make a sound like that.
anyways, we all sleepily staggered into the canoe and were off to go watch the sunrise. i have to admit, i think sunrises are way to overrated. i mean yeah, sure they’re cool, but a sunrise is a sunrise is a sunrise and i’ve seen way too many of them anyways. mainly though, if i’m awake at 5am in the morning, you can bet i’ll be in a total shite mood, sunrise or not. to watch the sun do cool tricks, i’d wayyy rather see a sun*set*… that way i dont have to be dragged outta bed at the crack of dawn. we sat and stared at the horizon, the sun rose, we turned around and walked back to the canoe. as soon as we got back to camp, we all fell asleep instantly.
later on, we all went to go fishing. of course, this is the crazy Bolivian wilderness, so we weren’t fishing for trout, salmon, or any other normal fish… we were fishing for piranhas. if you havenâ€™t heard of them, piranhas are meat eating fish. instead of nibbling on worms and plants like other fish, these guys eat water they can find including cows and sometimes people. i’ve heard stories of boats capsizing on the Amazon river and the piranhas eating everyone that was onboard.
now, i’ve never really been a big fan of fishing. i’ve never been down with actually killing things myself, and the thought of yanking fish out of the water and watching them flop around and die never sounded all that appealing. we were told that today’s fishing would be catch and release which on one hand sounds nicer, but on the other hand it seems like you’re just torturing these fish for fun and then throwing them back in the water once you have jabbed a sharp metal object through them. so, i felt a bit uneasy with the hole thing, but hell, it’s not often you get to fish for piranhas, so i did it anyway.
we stop the boat and our guide hands out tiny little bits of raw meat that we put on hooks and lower into the river. almost immediately we see small fish zipping by, tearing off chunks of meat and swimming off. the piranhas were super fast. you’d drop in meat and they’d take a bunch of small bites in rapid succession and then be gone. the problem was that they’d usually bite the meat from the side, so they never really had a chance to get stuck on the hook. somehow though, a few minutes later, i was the first one to catch a fish.
look at the teeth on that sucker!
i’m still not positive, but i *think* that my hook may have gone through the piranhaâ€™s eye. after throwing it back in, i couldnâ€™t help but keep thinking about the poor little one eyed fish, struggling to survive out there, and so while the other’s in our group kept trying to catch piranhas, i kinda only half-heartedly threw my hook in from time to time. not everyone was able to catch a piranha, but some people did get one. once again, i thought back to yesterday when we were swimming with dolphins… in a piranha infested river. yikes!! we ended up keeping some of the bigger ones to eat for lunch and even after being fried, the fish still looked menacing!!
after lunch, it was time to leave. it had been quite a crazy three days. from alligators to dolphins to piranhas to satanic monkeys to filthy stinking bogs. i really felt like we had gotten quite an experience. on the other hand, i had about a billion mosquito bites, all my clothes were drenched with sweat, and everything i owned was dusty and dirty. i have no idea how people can live out here in these conditions and going back to town to take a nice shower and hang out in a room with a fan sounded really nice. we all piled in the canoe for the last time and quickly went down the river for the last time. everyone laid down in the boat and watched the scenery go by. as usual, we saw lots of gators, turtles, and crazy huge birds.
as we rounded one of the bends in the river, we saw a large group of capybaras in the water. a capybara is this weird looking furry creature that is about the size of a large dog. it was cool to see them all just chilling in the water.
when we had almost gotten to the end of the river, it started raining. first lightly, and then heavily. the canoe was obviously uncovered so we had no choice but to sit there and get soaked. honestly though, after the sweltering heat of the last few days, the rain felt really nice. the problem though, was that when we got to the end of the river and piled into the van, the road was a muddy slushy mess. we started driving and pretty soon the van was swerving all over and fishtailing a bit. it was all kind of funny driving like that until the van suddenly slid very quickly toward the right side of the road. the middle of the road was much higher than either side, so not only were we sliding sideways, but we were also sliding downward and the van was at more and more of an angle till we were sure it was about to fall over sideways. we hit the bank of the road, and the van stopped. no one in the van moved. we were totally scared since we were so tilted and it seemed that any movement would cause the van to fall over. one by one, we slowly crept out of the van.
for a while, the van just sat there, completely stuck. when the driver would hit the gas, the wheels just spun in the mud. all of us meanwhile, as if we hadnâ€™t been dirty enough, now had clumps of mud all over our shoes from walking around. eventually though, we got the van unstuck and made it back to rurrenabaque without any more problems. wow, what a crazy last 3 days it had been!! so in the end, despite no being able to say that “i went to the jungle!”, i’m still glad that i chose the pampas cause the pampas is way more hardcore and interesting than the jungle could have been!
we made it!