Jose, The Anaconda Hunter

We woke up today, not to the sound of rain, but to the sound of the toads groaning and monkeys howling. This was a good sign that we would be able to do the day’s activity, while also appearing promising for the flight we would like to be on tomorrow in able to catch our other flight to Uyuni.

We had another very filling breakfast of empanadas filled with cheese and dulce de leche, along with eggs, pancakes, fruit, etc. etc. It is a nonstop food fest with Maria at the helm and, only 5 days late, we have decided that we need to stop going for seconds.

At 8:15 a.m. we took off on the boat with Jose, our rubber boots, walking/poking sticks, ponchos, and water, drenched in DEET back down the river to go… anaconda hunting. Yes, we were going to go in search of snakes that are so strong then can kill you just by wrapping themselves around you and squeezing. Yikes. Luckily, to Lynn at least, Jose had warned us beforehand that the wet season isn’t the best time to find them so we may be just going on a very warm, mosquito-filled walk which ended up pretty much being the case.

We passed more of our River Chicken friends, caimans which may or may not have caught something with the splash it created, and more adorable capybara (Can’t we bring one home! Please!!!!) before Jose nestled the boat ashore and we disembarked. We were immediately hit with how hot it was outside since the wind on the boat had been doing a good job masking it. Ugh. We would be getting sweaty.

Those caimans are always out to get us.
Those caimans are always out to get us.

We made our way through very tall grass, attempting to put more repellant on us as we walked to fight the swarm of mosquitos while also staring fervently at the ground to avoid stepping on any angry anacondas. In a short while the trail opened up to a marsh to see a number of storks, herons, and jabirus doing their best to catch some anacondas, snails, and crabs.

We've arrived in the real pampas.
We’ve arrived in the real pampas.
The herons are also looking for anacondas.
The herons are also looking for anacondas.
We're ready with our poking sticks.
We’re ready with our poking sticks.

We worked our way through the mud in our knee-high boots, poking and prodding to spot ourselves an anaconda. Instead we found a lot of empty snail shells, some live and dead crabs, and a whole heck of a lot of cow pads (this areas is also used for grazing cattle it seems). The closest we got to seeing an anaconda was when a stork managed to catch a baby one, maybe 2 feet in length, about 50 yards away. It took off flying with it before dropping it back in the grass. We quickly made our way over to see if we could spot it where it was dropped, but it had successfully hidden by then.

Found a crab!
Found a crab!
Found a very scared turtle!
Found a very scared turtle!

After 2 hours, the heat and mosquitos had beat us and we made our way back to the boat. The wasps didn’t help either. Back we went to the lodge to gather our things and overeat (Thanks, Maria) lunch before it was time to leave.

Found some sweat!
Found some sweat!

A quite 2 minute boat ride and we were back at our Toyota SUV only to learn that the car had a flat tire. Luckily, the driver had a spare so we only had to look on in admiration as he used a wrench to jack the car up, swap the bald tire for another (treaded) one, and off we were. The ride back was just as unpleasant as the ride coming… more rutted, muddy roads combined with rain every so often that would leak through the doors weather stripping and onto Doug. The front windows needed to be open to assist with the defrosting since Bolivians insist on placing decorative fur (or fake fur, unsure) on their dashboards covering their defrosters. This ultimately led to the rear of the car taking some hits of mud and rain. It was 3 hours of this with a few minor stops to re-inflate the tires, use the bathroom, and refill the gas tank.

Thank goodness for a boat breeze.
Thank goodness for a boat breeze.
More monkeys!
More monkeys!
"I'm watching you" - says the caiman
“I’m watching you” – says the caiman
Aww the turtles are loving on eachother!
Aww the turtles are loving on each other!
Oh Maria, your carbs made us fat.
Oh Maria, your carbs made us fat.

By 5 p.m. we were back in Rurrenabaque being dropped off at a different hostel then our one previous, this one recommended by Jose. We did a quick inspection, happy to find air conditioning and a giant room with many beds and a bath that would presumably be to ourselves, and accepted this new space only to learn that we had made a very grave mistake.

Well, Lynn believed this. Doug was strong enough and willing enough to suck it up for the night. After killing 15 mosquitos (there wasn’t a mosquito net), continuing to drip in sweat (because the A/C wasn’t due to come on until 6 p.m.), noticing that there was a single sheet on each of the beds to cover the mattress (hello, bed bugs!), and taking a look at the bathroom (holy Jesus, it was disgusting), Lynn continued to get more and more irritable at the situation and Doug did his best to cheer her up and offer a solution. Which, being the best husband ever, he did. Down the road a ways was a legitimate looking hotel, with clearly visible A/C units that we would check out after dinner to see if it would be within the budget.

We went off for some dinner, disappointed in all the town’s limited options, and settled back at the same pizza place we had been at 5 days previously for some cerveza and more pizza. We had learned from our experience with the hostels that the devil you know beats the devil you don’t. On our way back to the horrific hostel, we stopped in at the hotel, did a quick inspection of the A/C (working always!), bathroom (thank heavens, it was clean), and sheets (immaculate!), we decided that we could spare the $50 to treat ourselves after 5 days in the jungle. We quickly ran back to the hostel, elated, grabbed our things, and peaced-out the guy watching TV at the front without issue.

Returning to our new oasis, we took glorious showers in hot water and took in some Brazilian soccer on our TV before passing out to the party happening outside.

Daily Walking Mileage: 2.5

Fun Facts:

  • Storks will kill and eat anacondas, but the locals have noticed that jabirus will kill the anaconda, leaving it headless, but not eat it.
  • Various parties and parades have been happening in Rurrenabaque during our time here, but we have missed them all due to being in the jungle and the pampas. We are assuming that they are for the Feast of the Candelaria (held on February 2nd), a festival celebrating the Virgin Mary which originally started in the Canary Islands and was brought to South America by its former inhabitants. All we know is that it tends to spark very loud band music until 2 a.m. and the appearance of drunken cholitas on the streets.
  • Lynn has decided that town of Rurrenabaque is one of her least favorite places. It is always a disappointment of humanity to see children running around covered in mud, lacking shoes, with torn clothing begging on the streets. She also did not like the heat, mosquitos, and general feel of uncleanliness. She realizes that this makes her privilege shine bright, but she is also very happy to be leaving tomorrow.

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