July 5, 2006
It was time to leave today and I decided that I didn't want to deal with riding all day in the back of a pickup truck down a bumpy gravel road with twelve of my best friends. The only other option was to fly. I hadn't flown since beginning my trip last September (not counting the Nazca Lines flyover), but it only cost $15 more than taking the truck and it would give me a chance to look at the Mamore from above.
I took a taxi to the airport and learned that a flight would be leaving soon. While I was waiting, I struck up a conversation with a local who spoke perfect English. He was one of the first Bolivians I met who had mastered more of the language than "hello" and "my friend." He studied in the US and Canada for a few years and will be returning to finish his studies in January. I guess I should have realized this beforehand, but an entirely different class of people hang out in airports than the ones who hang out in bus stations.
After a short wait, I boarded a small plane with two other passengers. During the thirty minute ride back to Trinidad, I saw about a dozen windy rivers. They all seemed out of control the way they snaked back and forth over the landscape. At the end of my flight, I finally saw part of the Mamore, my home for nine days. The flight was scenic, relaxing, and well worth the money. I later found out that Louise and Craig had lots of problems on their ride back to Trinidad and eventually had to use a 2-liter coke bottle in the front of the truck as their gas tank.
My two options for going back to La Paz were to go through Rurrenabaque or Santa Cruz. The Rurrenabaque route would take slightly less time, but I couldn't bare the thought of having to deal with that horrible road again. I decided that taking the paved road to Santa Cruz would be my best option.
I met up with Veronica, who surprisingly had a good experience in her pickup ride, at the bus station. She is also going to Santa Cruz, and will continue her journey via train into Brazil. The bus tonight was a pleasant surprise. It was actually a decent bus with plenty of legroom, something I had yet to experience in Bolivia. It seems that like the people I met at the airport, I'm also entering a higher class of travel.
The photo album for this entry is here.