Thursday, September 27, 2007

Smooooke in the Jungle (A fire in the sky)

Alas, the Rolling Stones were truly wise when they said "you can't always get what you want." We spent the last two days hanging in the airport, waiting for our flight to leave from La Paz to Rurrenabaque, in the Amazon jungle basin. There we would have done many cool things (swimming with dolphins, eating pirhanas, learning about the medicinal plants and whatnot), but our valiant attempt was thwarted.

At the end of each winter, the locals gather all the underbrush and refuse that accumulated during the winter and burn it. One big fire to send all the trash up to the heavens. Which causes a LOT of smoke. So much smoke that our 18-person plane was unable to land on the grassy hill (seriously, there's not even an airport there). So we spent two days in the airport in La Paz, being told every hour to come check back an hour later. Just a bit frustrating. Don't ever fly with Amaszonas. They're the worst (the only compensation we got was a free Jr Whopper from Burger King and small fries).

Highlight of the airport (other than hanging out with other fun, stranded tourists) was watching workers oil and polish EVERY leaf on every tree inside the airport. Not sure why they do that, but the kicker was that they wore hardhats while doing so.

So we found out that they don't expect any flights to get in there for at least a week (we feel bad for everyone in the jungle, as they are stranded and can't get out!), so we are not going. Tomorrow we head into the salt flats then across the border to Chile. We should have some amazing pictures after this little trip, so check back in a week or so.

Now, for your enjoyment, here are some pictures from La Paz.

Nice garden in the main park by the ampitheatre/band shell.

A marching band on a random day--not a holiday) decided to march down the middle of the main avenue, delaying our bus. But they were having a blast.

One of the mountains surrounding La Paz (in the Zona Sur neighborhood... where we had those incredible pastrami sandwiches).

The next two pictures are of the Valley of the Moon. One astronaut who has actually been on the moon (or at least a soundstage in New Mexico) said this was the closest he's ever felt to being back on the moon. So kudos to the Bolivians for naming their valley!

Last night was spectacular. Once we admitted defeat in our quest to reach the jungle (I guess we have learned something from the Myth of Sisyphus), we went to Plaza Avaroa with two fellow strandees (Phillipe from Belgium and Dave from Scotland) and dined at a churrascaria and had INCREDIBLE steaks (with wine, fries and sausage) for a grand total of $25 (for four people).

After dinner, we walked a few blocks to the Thelonius Monk jazz club where we saw a great German fourtet (kick drums/e-drums, bass, trumpet and DJ) play. It's been too long since we'd seen live music. It really hit the spot in a big way!

And they had awesome treble-clef candlesticks, shown here with our favorite Bolivian wine :)


Andrew said...

Don't under estimate the value of a Jr. Whopper! What do they call a quarter pounder (no cheese since this is Aaron we are talking about) in La Paz?

Glad to hear you guys are enjoying the trip.


Joe said...

Leaf polisher seems like a pretty sweet gig. Low level of stress, I imagine.