I paused for a moment among the lush green jungle plants and listened to the lomos chirp in the trees around us. Putting my hand on a vine entangled next to a tree I closed my eyes in exhaustion. My entire body was dripping with sweat and water from the waterfall I’d jumped through earlier in the hike through the monkey park. When I re-opened my eyes my vision was blurry and I felt the all-encompassing pressure of dehydration in the jungle of Bolivia.
It was the monkey who stole our water bottle. He then proceeded to take off the cap and drink the water. They were not timid monkeys in the park, we learned when one climbed up my professor’s back and sat on her shoulders for several minutes–and then stole her phone.
Two friends and my professor accompanied me to Villa Tunari, a tourist pueblo in Chapari, part of the Bolivian jungle just a few hours outside of Cochabamba. The sun was rising and our blood alcohol was still high when we left Cochabamba last Saturday morning and drove through misty mountains in the coca-growing region of Bolivia.
Chapari is stunningly different than Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Toro Toro, the other places I’ve visited in Bolivia. It is how I pictured Bolivia: lush green misty mountains, little outdoor restaurants serving fried yuka, and big open trucks full of campesinos rolling down the highway, passing you as you hold on for dear life to the driver of a moto-taxi, sans helmet.
Ah, it was beautiful. And the humidity was as good for my skin as the mosquito bites were bad for it. As usual, Bolivia offered raw adventure at a possible high mortality rate. But the Singani kept us rolling, the yuka kept us fed and the Armadillo my professor ordered at lunch the first day kept us on our feet.
And best of all, I found my first white veranda.