The Pampas: Amazon
The Pampas: Amazon.
May 20th and 21st.
Five hours of sleep is not enough to keep my pencil sharp. I am dull and groggy. Keeping up a blog takes shitloads of time. I have written every day of my life for about 9 years, and it was all pen-to-paper journal business before. No problem. But, this internet business takes serious time. The writing part is the fast part. I would say it is only about 25% of the time of the process now. But loading the pictures, and tagging things, and lining up things, and all the tedious shit that comes with attempting to be a geek that is a time murderer. And uploading pictures in Bolivia with the internet connection here… F me…
So, I only got five hours of sleep last night because I had a huge one to catch up on when I got out of the Amazon last night and I would be heading right back in. I am my own boss here, but I am a dick to me sometimes as Mr. Discipline and Journalist Me often hates that the boss is a demanding dick.
I think I would make an above average schizophrenic.
By 9am there were 9 gringos loaded into a Toyota Land Cruiser that had two bench seats in the back that we sat on. I got into the vehicle first in order to establish a seating place that would allow sleep. That was futile thinking. Words can not describe the road conditions for the next four hours of actual time that was actually about 16 hours in terms of what it took from my lifeline. The vehicle was rough, the trail was just a collection of potholes in a row that someone decided to call a row, and it was a terrible affair of sweaty legs against sweaty legs. Two of the three other sets of sweaty legs were man-legs. Five hours of sleep did not help these already dire conditions. But, we got there. I should have taken a day off today before heading back in.
But the Pampas was awesome. New friend Jeremy who is one of those rare combinations that he is both from France and cool, six Israelis, Maar-sneeze and myself loaded into a really long and narrow boat. We would cruise through the Pampas in search of animals at home who were almost certain to not be as excited to see more humans as we humans would be to see them and push cameras in their faces. They would be horrified as we would be glorified. It is nice to be at the top of the chain even if we are disgustingly power abusive.
Birds aplenty! Some huge – Some aquatic – Some vibrant colors – Most looking like they belonged in a zoo rather than here in the wild where they would have to fend for themselves in this natural habitat. They were amazing. We saw cocoa herons, joashins (paradise birds), cavasa cacas, yavirus, and papa gallos. There were alligators everywhere, and they came as long as 7-8 meters. I had forgotten how big alligators get, allowing my mind to just think of the monstrous monsters as crocodiles. At a place we stopped the boat where some huts where, we met a Black Cayman alligator who was 7 meters long. Our boat driver, Tony, had some chicken that he lured the alligator with and he was slapping the massive massive alligator in the top of the face with a piece of chicken. The alligator was following Tony as he backed away slapping the chicken over and over. We all “ooooed” at the site and one of the Israelis told me that he just needed to touch the alligator. It sounded like one of those things really stupid people say before making a bad decision. I encouraged such behavior. We were actually already too close for reasonable comfort at about 3 meters distance from the alligator on a step. I told the Israeli that I would take pictures. I told him to go for the tail thinking that would be his best chance of getting away. He was trying to find a good body position for the approach when a local Bolivian took notice of what might be happening and told us, “No No! Alligator rapido! No!” I told my new friend that it is lucky for him that I had not just taken pictures of his death. There is no way I would have ever considered such an idea. Anyone else can do as they please. See you later, Mr. Alligator, and we went in search of more birds.
But on the way we found spider monkeys in trees that we fed bananas to. We pulled up along the trees and kept a half a banana tightly in our hands as the monkeys came down and hung onto our arms to peel back the bananas and take bikes of them. It was super cool. Spider monkeys make a funny and apprehensive click sound. I would like to own one someday.
At the lodge place where we would be staying, there were little shacks on stilts with a boardwalk between building and the would-be court-yard was water where alligators lived. And they were around, including a big old boy who hung out in the area near the kitchen. He seems to have found the gravy train in life. He sort of has free room-service daily and all he has to do for it is pose for a bunch of gringo cameras. Several 4-6 meter alligators lingered close by, and if you fell off the dock walking to the toilet or home late after some romance, there is a very good chance you would become alligator dinner before you could get out of the shallow water again. It is kind of an eerie feeling to know that probable death lingers at your misstep. I wonder if skyscraper construction workers in those old black and white photos who looked so comfortable in their positions felt a similar feeling to what I felt inside at non-misstep alligator incentives….
There was a manta ray in the shallow water off the dock in the would-be court-yard, its fame extended for being the improbable killer of Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter. The manta ray was a beautiful color with speckled dots all over its body. I had a look at the ray, got distracted and the next time I looked, there was a Bolivian man with a giant stick that he had put through the manta ray. We all clicked our cameras and we were told that the manta ray would be dinner in the evening. No matter what you were, it seemed to be dangerous to linger in those court-yard waters.
Navigating the Pampas in that boat was amazing. The driver just cut through narrow passages in bushes and around corners. It was like having a good driver at home in Big Beaver who knew every backroad to cruise down while drinking beer. We were fast and we were everywhere. There were birds that were at least one meter tall, there were birds that had the most punk-rock hairstyles, there were birds who seemed to like to pose with their magnificent wingspans for us, and there were birds that did not want to hang around clicking cameras at all and would jump from trees into the water where they would disappear out of site for as long as we were there. It was amazing to watch a bird jump into the water like that and disappear. Their defence tactic looks like suicide. Crazy birds.
We seen howler monkeys who make a unbelievable throaty and frightening sound as a protection of their territory, and after dinner that did not include manta ray which made me question motives, we went back into the Pampas at dark to catch small alligators. Alligator eyes glow a fearful red in flashlight dark. All of a sudden our boat operator was making noise at the back of the boat as we cruised and when we turned our flashlights on him, he had a small wet alligator in his hands. We passed the small alligator around in our hands and took triumphant pictures with it, my picture of me biting the alligator in a twist of realistic possibilities.
We had to be up at 5:30am, which is not really a time for me as much as it is a concept I can hardly understand similar to a black hole, so we just went back to the swamp hostel where I wanted to play cards but stoned Israelis are not really a lot of entertainment. So, I teased Maar-sneeze a bit and some English girls that I had met in Montevideo.
I hate 5:30am. It is senseless. There are so many more hours in the day that I could stay up later for if we would start the day later. But, people wanted to see the sunrise on the Pampas. I assumed it would look like a normal sunrise, except this one would be on the water. And it turned out to be just that, and I got to be mega tired for it. Yea, the colors were nice but they are also just so in the reasonably timed sunset. The Pampas is certainly alive at that sunrise time of the day though, even if I barely am. There were a lot of noisy birds seemingly having the time of their life as I was having a time fighting off gorgeous dreams.
We went piranha fishing with pieces of beef. Maar-sneeze caught one and the guide caught about six. Maar-sneeze has outfished me on two adventures now. Fishing… I will never be a good one of those. Then we went for a walk to find anacondas. But, when 30 people from about 4 different boats are platooning a watery area where anacondas are thought to hang out, the anacondas seem to think a vacation is in order. Which is more than reasonable. If I was a sunning snake and 30 humans showed up to the area I was in, I would also be leery of the lynch-mob and would be long gone too. So we headed to where the freshwater pink dolphins would spend much of their time. We found a mother, father, and young dolphin, and they are pink. There was no Flipper somersault action like I was expecting these wild dolphins to perform, but we were able to see parts of them as they swam by. Three of our boat members jumped out to swim with them, but the dolphins seemed to be a little shy. They are human-ed out. It was probably fun for the first while, but when 100 different humans a day are jumping into the water to swim with you day in day out, the party becomes a mundane job. I have met two people who have told me that they were bitten by the dolphins. I assume there is a bastard in the bunch, perhaps who was a little more ginger than the rest and was picked on as he grew up. As we were circling the area with the boat the driver was telling us to jump into the water, “Dolphin will come. Dolphin wants friend.” At least I seen a little of their pink dolphin-ness. A really cool trip. The Pampas is awesome. Pink dolphins? Just a glimpse of that is an amazing trip.