On The Road: Rain-soaked days and dinosaur prints in Bolivia
Saturday 11 July 2009
T he rain, which all night has drowned out the sounds of soft rock and loud travellers' tales of anacondas from the pizza place next door, is still cascading down out of Rurrenabaque's grey sky when we wake up. This is the jungle, and airports are narrow strips of rough grass cut through the endless trees. Rain and jungle air travel don't mix.
My shoes are still soaked from walking thigh-deep through a pampas bog the day before, so in sandals I wade across what was once a road, wondering where yesterday's kerb begins.
At the airline office they seem unfeasibly optimistic. We leave our bags and head off to a café for breakfast. Several breakfasts and brunches later, we're still sitting watching the rain and the sky and waiting for news, always half an hour away.
Locals come by, smiling, telling us how the last time it rained nobody left for a week. We meet a couple of Irish girls and talk to a pair we'd met before in La Paz. In a homemade kit car, an American man drives around selling banana cake and giving out conspiracy theory literature about the FBI. Hours pass.
There are no spectacled bears, no active volcanoes, no enormous expanses of white, or blue, not even any weird potatoes, only a few bedraggled dogs, some muddy motorbikes and some stranded travellers. Eventually the call goes up from somewhere that we're off to another airport, where they have a solid runway. Far too many muddy people pile into a tiny minibus and we are driven bumpily away into the mist.
There is nothing especially unusual about today, but, alongside all of spectacular Bolivia, along with dinosaur footprints and candlelit cabins, I'll remember this too, fondly.
Footprint's 'Bolivia Handbook' (£14.99) is available now
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