Welcome to the Jungle, or Not

La Paz Travel Blog

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Today was pretty miserable.

I barely slept last night.  A combination of fever, stomach, dehydration, and Chris waking up every hour to go to the bathroom.

Needless to say, I woke up feeling like crap.

Yet today was the day we were supposed to leave our hotel at 7am, drive to La Paz to catch our 11:30am flight to Rurrenabaque, plan a two-day jungle tour, and then relax in a hammock at some hostel in Rurrenabaque.  Well, none of that happened.

First, although the taxi did show up at 7am as promised, the hotel staff had a hell of a time checking us out.  The husband owner dude was busy preparing breakfast, so we asked him to take a break and check us out.  He tried but apparently couldn`t figure out the charges, or didn`t know how to process the paperwork.  The wife owner person was still sleeping, he said, and he didn`t want to wake her up.  We couldnĀ“t half-blame him, because she had been really grouchy the last day or two.  But our trip was on the line, so we said, "dude, wake her up".  She came out a few minutes later, by now it was 7:15.  She did the paperwork but then couldn`t accept our credit cards because her machine was not online due to the heavy rain outside.  So we scrounged up a LOT of bolivianos, nearly 500 per person.  Then we piled into the cab, and by 7:30am we were on the road...heavy rain and bad windshield wipers.  Was going to be scary.

We actually only had one life-threatening event enroute.  A bus came careening around a corner on our side of the road.  It looked like it was going to be a head-on collision.  The bus driver swerved back to his side at the VERY last minute, meanwhile our driver slammed on the breaks and swerved right, almost sending us into the rain ditch.  It was close.   Too close.

When we did get to La Paz, the city was jammed.  We were at the opposite side of town from the airport.  Timing was tight, too.  Our flight was at 11;30, and it was currently 10:00.  Readers may think "oh, that`s plenty of time".  Well, you haven`t been to La Paz. 

Our driver (from Coroico) apparently didn`t really know the best way to get to the airport.  So he simply pulled over, stopped the car, and gave up.  He suggested we get a local taxi to haul us through the city.  So we paid him, got out, and flagged another taxi. 

This new driver charged us a steep 80 bolivianos, but he hauled ass through the streets and got us to the airport by 10:35.  Phew.  Made it, right? 

Not quite.

We got to the Amazonas Airlines desk only to find there was no 11:30am flight.  It had been cancelled.  The airline had thoughtfully sent us an email to inform us of that....at 9pm last night.  The representative said we could get on the 4pm flight.  So we waited. 

At this point, I was miserable.  Bolivian food and water had caught up with me ... not to mention I was back at high altitude.  (Actually though, I was doing much better with the alitude now.)   And I was completely wiped out from a night of little sleep.  After a tour of the La Paz airport bathroom, I crashed on the floor of the airport for 3 or 4 hours while Melissa, Griff, and Chris did some combination of eat, sleep, read, or plan our next move.

At 3pm, things were looking good.  We checked our bags and got through security, though the latter part of that statement was no real achievement.  Between the 4 of us, we carried through 8 liters of water (some opened bottles, some unopened), prescription drugs (though no one asked to see the prescription), and a pocketknife.

At Gate 8, we sat.  3pm became 4pm.  4pm became 5pm.  We were waiting for the grass runway to dry at either Rurrenabaque, or later the alternative destination of Reyes - from which point they would bus us to Rurrenabaque.  No luck.  At 6pm, the flight was cancelled. 

Damn.  Now what.  The representative put us on a flight to Rurrenabaque leaving the next morning, though that already cuts short our jungle tour option...reducing it from a 2 night trek to a 1 night trek.  Better than nothing, I guess.

So, with that flight option the next morning, all we could do for now was pick up our bags and taxi back down into La Paz.  We stayed at Posada de la Abuela again.  I had a quick shower, ordered a pizza para llevar, and sat in bed eating pizza and watching School of Rock.  The others cleaned up and went to a good Cuban restaurant in a nice part of La Paz.

The next morning our plan was to return to the La Paz airport and hopefully catch the flight to Rurrenabaque.






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La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009