Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Crocodiles

Today I was feeling especially nostalgic and read through my blog and decided that it doesn't have to stop just because I'm back in Seattle! Reading back over my blog brings back memories and I feel like I am reliving that moment in my life again, so why not tell more stories? I will start with one of my fondest memories in Bolivia.
Cocodrilo (Crocodile)

Our boat
I should start by saying why I was in Bolivia. The summer before my junior year of high school, I was interested in doing a short-term foreign exchange (which I did to Holland the next summer). I got in touch with the local Rotary Club, and by the time I got off the phone, I had agreed to host a long-term foreign exchange student from Bolivia. Oscar lived with my family for four months and we were instantly best friends. The summer before my freshman year of high school, I went to Bolivia to live with his family for a few months and we traveled around Bolivia and Peru and spent time getting to know his family and friends in La Paz. We went on a few trips and had endless adventures. One of my favorite trips was our trip to Rurrenabaque, where we took a three day tour through the pampas. Our group consisted of Oscar and me, two middle-aged women from France and five college boys from Chile. Needless to say, we had an amazing time and here is where my story starts:

Fishing for Piranhas
Swimming in the river
Our main mode of transportation throughout the trip was basically a motorized canoe. We rode through the murky river and saw tons of turtles, capybaras, monkeys, birds, and crocodiles. To the boys' delight, we even went on anaconda hunts! The river was filled with piranhas and crocodiles and none of us dared to stick even a finger in the dark water. On the third day, we took the boat to a place where the river widened and to our surprise, pink dolphins started swimming around the boat. Before this, I had no idea that dolphins could even be pink, so you can imagine my surprise! Our guide told us that when the dolphins swam down the river, the crocodiles and piranhas were scared away. So what did we do? We jumped out of the boat into the murky crocodile/piranha/dolphin infested water and laughed and screamed in delight. The river was actually pretty shallow- about four feet deep and much to my utter terror, I could see the crocodiles waiting at the river's edge, but I felt safe while the dolphins were swimming around us. We shimmied back into the boat and road back to camp where we boasted to the other group how we had swam with the crocodiles.
Se llama Pedro el cocodrilo :)

That experience really defines my traveling experience in Bolivia. I took a lot of risks and never held back and in the end, I had an amazing time. I trusted what our guide told us about the dolphins and I became friends with the Chilenos who are all great guys. Whenever I tell people that I swam with crocodiles, they look at me like I'm crazy and say that I'm lying. When I'm traveling, that's what I aim for- stories so amazing that people won't even believe me.

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