Welcome to the Jungle! This blog will briefly summarize our trip from our respective countries of origin to Bolivia and our 4 days at the first animal sanctuary of Jacq Cuisi.
As some of us took slightly different routes I can only comment on my own, which was Heathrow – Madrid – Lima – La Paz. It all kicked off to a promising start at the (very much shut) Cafe Nero in Heathrow T5. After meeting with the rest of the group traveling on that day we checked in without incident and carried on through the airport. However, an hour delay soon made us stressful we would miss our connecting flight in Madrid. Not to worry though, as it happens that flight was also delayed by a mere 16 hours, resulting in a hotel for the night while they “fixed” the plane. The rest of the journey went smoothly, and we were reunited with our bags (well, most of us) in La Paz at stupid o´clock in the morning, our body clocks completely shot. From there we were met by our Quest guide Matty, who seemed immune to the hour and altitude, who stuffed us into taxis that took us to the hostel. Now that the whole gang was present and correct we had a fleeting look at La Paz before jumping into a private coach and setting off down the mountain.
Our initial views of the jungle in the morning sun were nothing less than spectacular, and as we descended the vegetation became lusher and our altitude sicknesses began to subside. The bus journey took around 20 hours, though our body clocks had stopped trying to tell time long ago. After eventually arriving in Rurrenabacque we stocked up on a few essential supplies, such as Will´s bag and a bountiful cargo of oreos, and played catch in the sun (and rain) whilst waiting for the boat ferry. The ferry set sail for the arduous 5 minute journey to the other side of the river. The leg from here to Jacq Cuisi was long and treacherous. Trials and tribulations tested the crew at every turn. The battle with Mother Nature consisted of massive river that no normal vehicle could cross. However, we were in Bolivian taxis, which didn´t seem to abide by the laws of physics and we eventually made it to the park, battered and bruised, by mid afternoon. We had just enough energy left to make it to bed.
The work at the park centered around building a new chicken pen, so during the rainy season when the park is cut off they can be more self sustainable. This initially involved a battle as old of time itself, a duel between man and plant; 10 machete welding lunatics versus the never ending hordes of Chaco. Eventually they were beaten back to the soil from whenst they came. The battle was won but the war was far from over. Holes and trenches needed to be dug, cement needed to be mixed and rocks needed to be carried. We all worked hard, spurred on by the mocking laugh of Candy, the Bolivian handyman and master builder. During this time there were reports of Eilidh being attacked by a flying bug the size of a small human and was saved by James striding in on the back of a giant caymen, but as I wasn´t there for the encounter I fear some of the facts may have been exaggerated. By the end we were all mighty pleased with the finished product and the volunteers at the park were very appreciative. Overall, a successful first few days.
(Based on a true story, only the places, names and events have been changed)