We got out of the boat, and I started walking around the sandbar. Soon I steeped into some mud, and started sinking. I tried to escape. However, I only sunk faster. I had fallen into quicksand! I wiggled my legs, gave them a good yank, and finally they came free. But where were my sandals? I reached down with my hands and pulled them out. They were covered in mud, but not damaged, so they were fine. I put them on. After giving myself a much-needed rinse, we headed into the little settlement. Whew, I though, that was a close one. Gotta be more careful in the jungle, James!
The settlement was full of pitifully scrawny dogs. We looked at the crops, and squeezed sugar cane into a delicious juice. Then we were off toward our lodge again.
When we got there, we had lunch, then took a hike. When we got back, we rested, then had dinner, then I, discovering Mom had brought her nook, read for a little while before going to bed.
The next morning, we got up bright and early (you can imagine how grumpy I was), hiked to the campsite, and the sky opened up. It was rain like you’d never seen before. It was as if the oceans had overturned, like someone grabbed the whole river and threw it all on us. This is what it must feel like being an ant when the lawn sprinkler points your way, I thought.
Finally we got to the campsite, and I read. Soon I was pulled off my book to do arts and crafts (not the best thing when you’re reading a good book), but one of the guides made a caiman-tooth necklace for me. I read until dinnertime, then we took a night hike through the jungle. We saw lots of bugs, including some ants that were a little more than an inch long. They were called 24-hour ants, because if one bit you at twelve o’clock noon, the pain didn’t go away until twelve o’clock noon the next day. Basically, the pain didn’t subside for 24 hours. Ow! Also, hearing the strange sounds spooked me a bit.
The next day, when we got back to the lodge after a combination of swimming and floating down the river on a raft, which we’d had to build from scratch using tree trunks, we rested for a couple of hours. Then, us and our group mates headed off to a stream that fed to the river to fish.
First, Trent, the Australian man, pulled up a silvery two-and-a-half footer. It flapped so hard it escaped the hook, and was sent flying through air. It landed with a wham! on the ground halfway up the hill. Trent tried to hold the slippery fish in place with his foot, but it slid right down into the pond. It must have told its friends, because we didn’t catch anything else in that water. Although, in another pond, we managed to catch two tiger fish, which were about a foot and a quarter each, and one catfish, which couldn’t have been bigger than a foot. We ate well, and slept well, too.
We woke up, and found ourselves heading to town for our short break before the Pampas tour. We took a long drive (stopping on the side of the road to admire a sloth), saw a massive bird, and suddenly, the road was filled with water. We got out of the car, boarded a tiny motorboat, and rode the rest of the way to the lodge via the river. At one point, we came to a spot where two rivers met, forming a large pond. As we sped by, dolphins jumped up out of the water and fell back in again. I’m not kidding! Though, unfortunately, we were so fast that we only had a few moments to cherish the beauty of the memory. After we reached the lodge, we ate and rested before going on a “short” tour.
We swam with the dolphins, which was pretty cool, then went around looking for monkeys and birds. At first, I didn’t want to get in the water. I was in the pond already, though, wishing I could be in the boat. Then Mom jumped in, and called a dolphin over. It came right up to us and made a big splash. After what seemed like ages, I headed for the boat, but stopped when I heard a dolphin heading after me. I tucked my feet below my legs, but I still felt the dolphin nosing me playfully. It was quite an experience.
Finally we ended up floating in a flooded field watching the sunset. At about that time, we saw a caimans in a couple of different places. We were thoroughly spooked, though amazed, and went straight for the lodge. We had dinner and got a relatively ‘good’ night’s sleep.
The next morning, we had breakfast, toured around, and finally ended up in a horse ranch that had a kind of bus stop attached to it. Finally we rode off to Rurrenabaque, ending our tour of the Pampas and the Jungle.