So we arrived in Bolivia and immediately experienced the infamous Bolivian bus rides! We crossed rivers and bounced across gravel roads until we were literally praying for pavement - funny the things you take for granted at home! We were on our way from Villazon (the border between Bolivia and Argentina) and Cochabamba and just before we were suppose to get there, 25 kms to be exact, we ran into to our first blockade - not even in Bolivia for a full day and already we experienced what Bolivia is famous for! We had to walk about 5kms past the blockade then take a taxi to the bus terminal 25kms away, which only cost 40 Bolivianos (about 5 dollars). We finally got to the bus station and found out that we need to find a corner where minibusses stopped to pick up and drop off people. We asked to have a taxi take us the seven blocks but he told us to walk, and so we walked. Finally finding the mini bus corner we bought tickets and got on, thinking that we would be in Villa Tunari (the next volunteer spot) in a few hours, but there was a blockade on the other side that took a couple of hours to get around, and then a landslide on the way and then it was pouring sheets of rain, literally, but we got there! The next day we spent helping to construct a new cage while we waited for our tour and job assignments in Parque Machia. Denis was assigned to the monkey park and I was assigned to the albifrons. Denis was responsible for a short walk along the tourist trail where he fed and cleaned up after the monkeys that had been released in the park, but mostly cuddling, snuggling and protecting the monkeys from the tourists. I had to climb over a landslide, across multiple rivers, climb up and down which often meant slipping anf falling a lot to get to a group of nine monkeys that were being prepared for release - no touching, no talking - and I had to get them up into one part so I could clean the other and then back down so I could clean the first - EASIER SAID THAN DONE! These monkeys were smart - they have the intelligence of a four year old child and so they knew all my tricks and often outsmarted me, but it was fun. Denis got to know the monkeys by name and had his favourites, mostly the ones that did not pee on him but still fun to clean with a monkey on your shoulders. The rest of the park consisted of 10 pumas, a baby puma, an andean bear, 2 ocelots, about 30 - 40 spider monkeys, over 100 capuchin monkeys, countless wild squirrel monkeys and birds and small animals of all sorts. And I only got bit three times! The two weeks we spent there we met a ton of people from all over the world, it was a great experience and we are already planning when we can go back!
Back to Cochabamba (the blockades had finished) and off to La Paz. Such a beautiful city, perched high, very very high and spreads for ever but amazingly beautiful minus the car exhaust - which almost all comes from taxis I think we could count the private cars on one hand. We found the office for Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking (www.gravitybolivia.com) and booked our trip down the Worlds Most Dangerous Road! We nailed it! It was pretty scary but the scenery was beautiful and the biking got your adrenaline pumping especially when you come 6 inches from a passing jeep and a straight down cliff! I was the only person to totally wipe out - in water while crossing a river but was fine and they caught it on video, Denis stayed on his bike the whole timw. It was a great experience! Then to Rurrenbaque and the Pampas tour, we were with a great group of four guys from Isreal and two British girls, met some great guys from England and others from America. Saw a ridiculous amount of aligators, pink dolphins, fished for pirahnas, found and held an anaconda, saw birds, birds and more birds, a sloth, howler and squirrel monkeys and then went swimming in the same water with the dolphins, aligators and pirahnas. The food was horrible but the trip was great!
So now we are in Copacabana (not the one from the song) and went to walk the 9kms across Sun Island - beautiful! The scenery and the altitude take your breath away - seriously! We got our landry done! YEAH! (not exciting for you I know but very exciting for us!) And now off to Peru, we hike amoung the ancient Incas in 3 days! We will try to update sooner!