The Bolivian Amazon: The Pampas
On a 4-day, 3-night Madidi Jungle/Pampas tour in Bolivia.
Crocodiles lined the shore, watching with goofy grins filled sharp teeth. They’d dive into the river, bury themselves in the water, so that their eyes could watch you pass from just above the surface. Barely noticeable.
Birds. Birds taller than a grown man nested at the tops of trees, defying gravity.
Rodents, bigger than dogs, strolled in the sand. Monkeys, smaller than a palm, played in the branches. Pink dolphins swam up next to the boat. Fish, with teeth so strong they could leave a bloody weld in your leg, swarmed in the water.
The Bolivian Pampas could have been Neverland.
It was all I thought about, sitting in a lancha, floating down the pampas of the Bolivian Amazon, watching for animals, birds, fireflies. Peter Pan, Neverland, this amazing place, leaving it behind, inevitably going home.
For the first time in a while, in the amazon pampas, I felt calm again. I felt like I was where I should be with traveling. Maybe it was getting out of a city. Maybe it was being surrounded by nature. Maybe it was 4 days without wifi.
Travel can be scary. We like to pretend, make believe, that we’re totally safe traveling the world. But it’s not always the case. Maybe there’s a crocodile waiting to take your arm. Or someone waiting to rob you.
And sometimes you meet your enemy, your Captain Hook, who is waiting to strike you down. Maybe every hostel is booked, maybe your bank account is dwindling, maybe all those nay-sayers break through your thick skin.
And sometimes you’re Wendy, visiting Neverland, traveling South America. In love with all the wonderment, the people, the life. Forgetting what it’s like outside the fairy tale. But, at the same time, filled with a nagging sensation of wanting to go home. A limbo between never wanting to grow up and growing up up.
Sometimes you’re Tinkerbell, a stubborn, jealous, silly ass who can’t let go.
And, sometimes, you’re Peter Pan. A forever child. Without a care in the world. Leading a life of make believe. But when you return to the real world, you realize that everyone else has moved on, bought houses, gotten married, had babies. Grown up. And you’re still just a child.
The Bolivian Pampas could have been Neverland. And I had trouble leaving after a mere 2 days and 1 night there, enough to just scratch the very edge of the surface of this wondrous place. So much so that I almost asked if I could stay.
But I had other responsibilities to get to. Not everyone can stay in Neverland forever.
While in Bolivia I took a 4-day, 3-night Madidi Jungle/Pampas tour. To take a tour you can fly for one hour to Rurrenabaque from La Paz on Amaszonas for about $100 each way. Or you can take a bus that’s over 24 hours and might kill you and will most definitely make you puke. I opted to take a flight. Which was still the bumpiest, scariest, smallest flight, ever. But it was just for an hour. Not 24. I met people who booked their jungle tour online or through tour companies, but there are about a million companies in Rurrenabaque so you can just go and compare and see what’s leaving when the night before you want to go. Or you can be like me and get a few suggestions from the internet and then book with Mashaquipe because they have a good reputation, their own eco-lodges in both the Madidi Jungle and the Pampas, and don’t seem as flashy as some of the other recommended places. Because you’re lazy and don’t feel like asking around. If you’re like me, that is.