Five days in this remote part of Bolivia and we continued to be so impressed with the kindness of the indigenous people that live here and the abundance of biodiversity that swarms around the river banks. It was time to start the 100km journey back down the river, with the plans to stay at the education institute and spend more time with the students.
Upon arriving, we took another shower in classic Tipnis style, which consisted of a bucket, a small wooden canoe and a beautiful setting sun as pink dolphins would curiously pass by.
The next three days we’re spent getting our hands dirty and enjoying the company of the keen young students that live for soccer and have far more impressive practical skills than we ever will. Every night as the sun set we played soccer and got absolutely thrashed. We helped them plant corn and sat on the sidelines as they rode horses bareback whilst rounding up other horses to the stables.
If we didn’t think we we’re out in the wild enough, with the camines, pink dolphins and cappawera’s being an often sighting, we awoke at night to hear the growling of tigers just on the other side of the river. The next morning, we went across the river to spot the footprints. Right there, out in the middle of the Amazon as we slept, tigers, and likely jaguars too, would be strolling looking for a little fat kid like Lachie to chew on. Thankfully for Lachie they were on the other side of the river.
Conveniently, the soccer world cup was held on our final day at the institute. I couldn’t think of a better way to watch the game than on a tiny little TV, with 30 odd indigenous local from surrounding villages in shack out in the sticks of the Amazon. And then France went and F***** the whole day by winning. Chattes.
Saying goodbye to the students and teachers was for me an intensely gratifying experience. As we headed of back to the city, back to the hustle and bustle and noise of the world, these talented kids would stay, living out the years learning self-sustaining practices in the tranquillity of the jungle. The bliss and lifestyle struck a cord in all of us, and experiencing that lifestyle first hand, although briefly, was an experience we will hold onto for decades.
The next two days brought more surprises, more sunset river swims, more beautiful locals and villages and searching for odd types of food. We would get on the boat before sunrise and watch the sun pop over the horizon as the jungle came to life. The birds would begin to chirp and howler monkeys would produce a roaring sound like thunder emanating from the distant forest.
We had a 10 hour boat trip on the last day and it would be a race against light to get back to the village where a car was waiting to pick us up. That didn’t stop Fernando and the ledgies driving the boat pulling over every few kilometres to search for turtle eggs. We followed Fernando along the river banks as he expertly found where the turtles lay their eggs the night before. Digging 30cm in the sand and there they were, 20-30 eggs covered in the sand. Turtles are by no means endangered here and live in abundance, but we all we’re left feeling a little empty as all the eggs we’re collected to be eaten later. Though it seemed bad at he time seeing this, I was reminded that things are far worse in the way we source many animal products in the west, and the way food is sourced and grown here is far more sustainable than the intensive practices seen back home.
We made it back the start, but the journey wasn’t over yet. Cramming into a pickup truck with 15 other locals, we definitely didn’t enjoy the bumpy 2h ride back to Trinidad. Another stunning sunset over the forest kept us joyous momentarily. The memories and insane experiences we’d just had over past 10 days personally filled be with so much gratitude and love for not only the insaley lucky voyage we’d been on, but for the connections and relationships we’d made with incredible people.
From Trinidad we started the long, epic and partly sketchy ride to La Paz. With epic waterfalls, snowstorms, hypothermia and an absoluter bender of a night in La Paz, this leg was certainly one to remember, for the best and worst reasons. More to come.