Another day in the djungle


The only way to our camp: a three hour boat ride

I wake up to the buzzing noise of the amazon djungle. Birds are singing, howler monkeys screaming in the distance and millions of diffenent insects humming in the woods surrounding me.  Although the bed is is only protected by a simple wooden structure and palm leaf roof I am safe from any bloodsuckers under my green moskito net. It’s been unusually cold in the last few days, so I am wraped up in two sleeping bags  and wearing my favourite lama wool socks.


My temporary home in the djungle

I have no clue what time it is and haven’t looked at a clock for days, but as the first light of the day is shinging through thick green leafs I figure it is time to get up. I make my way to the kitchen and prepare a coffe – that is powdered milk, choclate powder and Nescafe with hot water. Jani, our cook and only other woman in the camp has already been up for hours  frying empanadas, pancakes and other delicious things for the tour groups. I hope the tourists aren’t too hungy today so I can steal some fruits from their buffet, because our breakfast is more typical for Bolivia and consists of meat and rice.


“Dining room” and hammocks – the heart of the camp

Slowly the kitchen is filling up with tour guides and other people from the Max team. Though my spanish has become quite good by now it is difficult to follow all the inside jokes and people takling at the same time. Still I feel welcome and have learned most peoples names by now. After helping with the dishes and chilling in the hammocks for a bit I am told to work with Krieter. We start painting wooden chairs, but hardly 10 minutes later he grinns and proclaims that we are going fishing. The work can wait. We walk through the dense djungle with its immense mahogany trees – thick lianas hanging from their branches. Crossing coutless antroads we make our way to the river and look for a nice sunny place to comfortably sit down and wait for the fishes to bite.


Krieter preparing the hook

The hooks are big and the pieces of meat seem exaggerated to me, but Krieter tells me the story of how he once caught a 25kg fish and he is determined to repeat the story today. I on the other hand don’t think that I’ll catch something, but it is nice to enjoy the sun and listen to Krieters tales. Despite being only 23 and a school education of less than two years he has seen and done a lot in his life. After growing up in a Tacana community in the djungel he left his family at only nine years of age to work on a farm and make some money. Like the other indigenous guides he knows his way well around the djungel and has an incredible gift of finding animals. We talk about travelling, other german volunteers he has met, relationships and obviously that time he saw a jaguar. In Rurrenabaque amongst travellers and guides alike this is the ultimate goal and popular topic of conversations. At this point in the conversation my attention for fishing is almost nonexistant, so I casually pull my string out of the water. To my surprise it is quite difficult and suddenly I realize that there is something pulling back. Something big! Krieter takes over and tells me to get my camera ready. I pull one last time and out comes – a turtle.


My accidental catch

Krieter thinks this is hillarious while I start to feel sorry for the poor animal. The hook is deep in its throuat and turtles can bite fingers off so it takes Krieter quite a while to free the creature with a kitchen knife. After about 10 minutes it is finally free and we send the little fellow (he is “only” about 10 years old) back into the river.


Krieter freeing the turtle with a kitchen knife and lots of patience

 I am done with fishing for now and we decide to head back for lunch. With the food another nice surprise awaits us: Lennard, another german volunteer has arrived. We instantly get along well, but sadly he steals the best job of the afternoon from me: clearing paths with a machete. Nevermind. I help Alvero make the beds in the beautiful tree houses and again most of our time is spent taking breaks and chatting. When it takes us 30 minutes to make four beds Alvero is convinced we are working too hard.


The treehouse my tourgroup stayed in when I arrived

Although Alvero has been working is both the Pampas and the Selva (djungel) for years, he is still crazy about taking pictures. If I wouldn’t know better I would think he is the tourist! So I help take pictures of him in the djungle, in fron of a tree house, making the beds… After a while I get tired of being his personal photographer, but dinnertime comes and he helps me look for seeds to make jewelery.

We join up with Krieter and Lennard and despite my earlier fishing-fail the two convince me to try my luck again. And night fishing turns out to be a lot of fun! It already stars when Krieter stops a baby-boa hanging from a branch. Of course I don’t have my camera with me, but the little snake hangs still so we can observe it from all angles. At the beach we have a great view of the night sky while the river is flowing in front of us – aligator eyes reflecting the light of our headlamps. While fishing Lennard and me get to the topic of festivals (he has a Boom ticket too) and Krieter jokingly complains that we are turning into Israelis. Our chatter is interrupted though when Lennard pulls his string out of the water. He has caught a big fish with jaguar-like skin. This will stay the yield for today.


The only picture I was able to take of Lennards fish before it got taken apart

Krieter says that the fish is delicious and that we’ll prepare it for breakfast – and I think how strange it is that we will be eating this beautiful fish that could be the hilight of any zoo aquarium in Germany. I have to admit though that I am curious how it will taste (spoiler: very good and non-fishy) and so we leave the big catch in the kitchen and happily head back to our beds where each of us crawls under their moskito net.

The amazon truly is amazing and there are new things to discover and animals to spot each day. We will see what the next day brings…


A turtle I didn’t catch, but found on the ground another day


3 thoughts on “Another day in the djungle

  1. Pingback: Pisac is the new Samaipata | letters from the road

  2. Pingback: Looking back at five months of travel… | letters from the road

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