Saturday, July 13, 2013

Our Trip to the Jungle (Part 2)

After our many adventures, we hit the trail in our loaded truffi for a little town in the middle of no where. This is where Gladys'(Tia's niece) family lives. After bumping along on dirt roads for three hours in the dark, with the last half hour being the worst, we decided that the Dealys (our friends in Oregon) did not live at the "ends of the earth", because we were in Bolivia at the "ends of the earth"...truly! One fun thing was that we discovered was that this part of the Bolivian jungle has fireflies! It was fun to spot their sparkly lights from the truffi as we drove past. The least fun part was going over the MANY log bridges that we entered VERY slowly so that we did not slip off...eeks! The guys especially would laugh at the noises I would make as we went over them!

When we arrived at the Pueblito it was profoundly dark, as each house only had one very dim light that was powered by solar. The stars are amazing when it is sooo dark! Gladys' mother welcomed all of us to her house with a meal of fried fish, and yucca. It was super yummy and we all sat around on the bare wood floor and ate with our hands! It was like stepping back in time.

The house was approx 30X20, made of wood, and all one room. It is built up off the ground so that you enter by a wooden ladder. There are no doors or windows, just bare wood walls! There are no tables, chairs, or any "creature comforts" that we are used to! The only bed that belonged to them they very generously gave to Rudi and I to use! It was slightly softer than the floor... I think!! Emily slept with me on it one night and said that the sleeping bag on the floor was softer the next night! It still was super hospitable of them to let us use it. That was basically the way they were with all of their things. What they had was ours to use!

After our meal we set up tents and mosquito nets to sleep in and under. There were five individual sleeping areas by the time we were done. We took over 3/4 of the house with our things. There was just room left for the cooking area and a small area to sit!
Our Tent home!

Clara, Ruth, and Paula, on Tia's "bedroom"!

Below is the only picture we got of the outside of the house. To the left of the boys is the ladder that you go into the house with! To the right is the well where all of the water comes from! You pull the water up with a skinny bucket thing.
Preparing food below the house!
I have to pause here and show you what awakened us a 1 a.m. the first night. Not the critters, as they were already dead, but Gladys' Dad had gone out and shot them and brought them home for us to eat! It would be the equivalent to killing the fatted calf for us! I always forget what they are called but they are kinda a cross between a rabbit and a pig... I know that sounds strange, but they were actually quite tasty! They only eat banana and yucca.
Rudi got up to take pictures at Javier's urging. He also got his picture taken with them! In the picture below Rudi, our host and hostess are skinning out the critters by flashlight!
Rudi modeling our dinner!
Middle of the Night Preparations!

In the morning Tia Techy, Rosi, and Gladys' mother (with the hat) spent about two hours cutting them up for our lunch. They were delicious! This picture is also taken inside the house in the "sitting area"!
Tia Techy, Rosi, Glady's Mom, and Reilmar Gladys' brother 

Gladys and her cousin washed up all of the lettuce that Techy had brought from her house. We had a nice big salad with our little critters, and of course, the ever present, Yucca! Check out Gladys's shoes. Rudi and I really got a laugh over how fancy they were in all of that mud and in the middle of nowhere! I guess you can tell a girls heart by her shoes! Oh dear, what does that say about me!!
 The guys all helped out by peeling the yucca for lunch. Yucca is a root that grows like crazy in the jungle. They seemed to eat it with every meal. It is a bit like potato only drier and even more bland. Not on my favorite food list, but with a lot of water is edible! We all like it fried the best because it tastes similar to french fries!
They saved the skin to eat for dinner... Rudi and I missed out because we had gone to bed...bummer!

After lunch was time for the "Jungle Mud Trudge". I was going to put Paula to bed for a nap and wait at home, but Javier talked me into going with all of them to go fishing. I did not know that we would walk about four miles round trip in PURE mud or I think I would have stayed home for the nap. It ended up being a great adventure. Rudi had to remind me a few times about what a great blog this would make!
A decent stretch of the road!

Resting after the long haul!
After walking about a mile and a half in the mud, we headed deep into the flora and fauna of the jungle off the beaten track. It was spectacularly beautiful. We walked past lots of papaya trees, bananas, and pineapple patches!
Edwin, Rudi and Paula with Papayas
Exotic Jungle Flower

Me, Modeling a Banana tree
At the river they were well into catching fish when we arrived. Unfortunately, it had rained a lot the night before,(hence the mud everywhere) and the river was too high to yield many fish.
Fishing with nets.
They fished with nets and also with just a roll of fishing twine and a hook. Reels and poles were not used at all. I am told on a good day you can catch 60 or more fish using these methods. Our catch was only five! They cooked them up that night and I was told they were delicious. I don't know the name of the fish in either Spanish or English. Sorry, fishing buffs!
Fishing from shore.

Our Five Fish
Well, about the time we got there we realized that we were going to need to head back pretty soon, as the sun was going to go down and we did not want to be caught in the jungle after dark. All of the women and girls headed back together. It was my favorite part of the day visiting and laughing with the ladies, as we slipped and slid home. I told Emily that some people pay money to run in the mud and all they get is a t-shirt and a hot shower afterwards! We decided we would have t-shirts made that said "I survived the Bolivian Jungle Mud Trudge!" I will have to post a picture of them when we do!

A really nice bridge!
The picture below is blurry, but it shows all of us trudging along! I carried Paula all the way back and a couple of times nearly fell. I asked Emily to take a picture of our shoes and legs. I was surprised at how clean they looked. For some reason it sure FELT a lot dirtier!

Happy Trails!

The Shoes!
We all washed up in some various little creeks as best we could. After we sat waiting for awhile in the truffi I suggested that I drive the truffi to the little town close by so that we could buy something to drink and some snacks. Gladys was shocked that I could drive and I instantly become something of a celebrity for her. (Not many women drive here.) Emily and Gladys had to coach me over one of the log bridges and I must say it was the scariest thing I have ever driven over. We got our snacks and headed back to pick up the guys. They were happy to see us, but Ishmael, our chofer was not too happy with me for driving his car. I apologized and he forgave me. I WAS sorry, but it sure was fun too!

Ruth washing off her shoes in a little creek
Because it was so muddy and really no place to wash up, and the fish weren't biting, we all voted to head home early. We were planning to stay two more nights and just stayed one more before heading out.

 But before we leave our tranquil spot I wanted to show you our bathroom. You see there are no bathrooms at the Ends of the Earth, so they dug one for us! Between the banana trees below is our beautiful bathroom. It was in full view of the house, so you just had to swallow your pride and go for it! We all bonded a bit more than I wanted to, but what can I say it was a jungle out there!!!
"Al Fresco BaƱo"
Our Craftsmen wave that it is all done! (Keep in mind that these guys are as tall as I am)
Our last morning in the jungle Javier drove us to a place where we could rent a boat and go on a mini-boat cruise on the River Beni. This river will take you very far and deep into the jungle regions of Bolivia. On our short excursion we passed many little villages only accessed by river. I have never experienced anything like that before. We passed many a boat taking supplies up river for the various villages.
Our Captain and His Boat
Javier and Techy's Family 

Edwin and Rosi's Family

A Village Reached Only by Water
"Chofer Ishmael" and Javier

Jungle Riverboat
Rudi and Carla's Family
After our boating tour we began the long trek home back over the mountains. It had been a grand time! I must say that no shower ever felt so good as the one that night. No bed ever felt so SOFT and clean!
It was also great to see our "Casa Babies" who had stayed behind with Tia Carmen, who had taken the best of care of them. We are looking forward to the next time we get to go and experience the jungle. It is definitely not a place for the faint hearted!


  1. Wow. That was amazing! Just like something out of a missionary story!(Oh, I guess it was a missionary's story :D) So many incredible experiences packed into a few short days, sounds like it was definitely the trip of a lifetime.

    I'm sooo disappointed that our place no longer holds the title of "The End Of The World", although it does sound like where you were at deserves it more. ;)

    Miss you guys,

  2. Whew! What an adventure you experienced. I am so glad you shared a lot of pictures. I think you are very, very brave, especially to eat some of the food you do down there. It is fun to read about what other people eat. Too bad you went to bed so early and missed eating the skins!

    I loved the part about you taking the truffi for snacks! You became a hero and a naughty girl all in one fell swoop! :)

    is chofer the Spanish version of the French word? How is it pronounced?

    I love this report. I read a lot of trying moments between the lines, though you make it sound somewhat fun! :) I think the bano must have been the most out-your-comfort-zone part of the entire adventure, though most of it sounds uncomfortable.

    You have helped me better understand the phrase "it's a jungle out there!"

    Much love to each of you,

    Mother j