Tuesday, 29 September 2009

La Paz - Cochabamba - Villa Tunari, 28 September 2009

So after a bit of hassle with lots of rude Bolivianos, Bestie Rhiannon and I finally made it on to a bus bound to the city of Cochabomba, Cochabomba, Cochabomba! The night bus was actually quite reasonable, and apart from the slow part of the journey getting out of the city it was a good, smooth ride for Bolivian standards! We arrived at Cochabamba at abuot 6am and then grabbed a cab to the street where we caught our transport to Villa Tunari. We would be taking a Micro to Villa Tunari, a small town 175km from Cochabomba. The micro wasn´t setting off till it was full so it was 7 before we hit the road. Although we slept on the bus we were still happy to get some shut eye as we drove through the Central Highlands of Bolivia. That was until we were abruptly awoken. From my sleep I was suddenly awake, a shot went through my whole body, I had been jolted forward and I could feel air behind me. I heard a scream, i think I heard a scream. I looked to Bestie and she looked at me, ´Are you ok´ we both said still not realising what had happened. I turned behind and saw the back window was shattered and behind a Dodge Ram covered in shattered glass. We had just been in a car accident. It took a while for it all to sink in. Both cars stopped and everyone was a little confused. We had been driving slowly along the road and we could only assume that the Dodge behind us hit the accelerator a little too hard and shunted in to us. Thankfully we were both 100% fine, as was everyone else in both cars. We were shaken obviously, but fine. We hoppped out of the car and ran up the road to rescue Rhiannon´s sleeping bag and day pack that had fallen out the window in the smash. Then the damage was assessed. The car couldn´t be driven onwards , the Bolivianos in the micro quickly flagged a car and all 5 of them piled into an estate car that already contained 4 people. Me and Rhiannon were not going to join them and so we insisted that our driver should flag a car down for us. Luckily he obliged, and while we spent the next hour keeping out of the wet, he spent the nex thour flagging down other micros to take us onward to VIlla TUanri. We sat relivng the moment and checking with each other that we were both ok. We were in shock, but pulled out a carton of Ades that helped the situation. Eventually a bus stopped and let us aboard. Except, there were no seats on the bus so we had to pile into the aisle big bags and all and sit and suffer. It wasn´t the most comforatblke bus expertience, but it was only for 75km so we didnt mind. After a couple of minutes we reached a police check point and at this point we were allowed to put our bags under the bus, and seats appeared for us. This drive itself was also pretty hairy as we drove through thick, thick, thick cloud! Nice! We didn´t really know where we were going, but we knew that Villa TUnari was a town with lots of hostels, and that we had to get off just before a bridge. We watched out of the windows alert, ´Does this look like a big enough kind of place?´ ´Do you reckon this is it?´ ´Will the driver remember to stop for us?´All the questions, and then we crossed a bridge and the driver called out for the two Gringoes aboard. We had arrived.

So, where am I and what am I doing here?

Well, the reason I have come to Villa Tunari is to face my fears and volunteer at an Animal Refuge Centre! Here´s the web details so check it out if you fancy it, http://www.intiwarayassi.org/articles/volunteer_animal_refuge/home.html. I am at the Parque Machia and here we have monkeys, pumas, ocelots, tejons, birds and lots and lots more.

We arrived at noon, but had to wait until 5 to be officially guided round the park, so we spent the afternoon chilling. At 5, we had our introduction to the park. We learnt all about how and why the park exists, why the animals are here, and why the Bolivian government is totally rubbish. Afterwards we were allocated rooms and jobs. Rhiannon was stationed in the Clinic with all the sick animals and I was thrown in at the Monkey Park with the Capuchins and the Spider Monkeys. FOr the next 15 days, I am responsible for cleaning, feeding, playing with and looking after a boat load of monkeys.

Incidentally it is worth pointing out why I am here. After my hungle experience, I decided it was time to face my fears and get used to animals. I am sick of being scared by them and figured what better place than this to face up to my ridiculous fears. YEp, that´s right, I am scared of animals. The terror comes as a result of being harrassed by boys who think it funny to put hamsters in my face, and scare me with skitzy dogs. I have never had a pet other than a fish, and at the grand old age of nearly 24 i decided it was time to put a stop to it. The volunteers at the aprk have all laughed at my fear, and Im already known as the one that is scared of animals! It is going to be an interesting two weeks.

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