Final day in the Jungle, boo hoo

We awoke early and spent a pleasant hour laying and listening to the sounds of the jungle. When you stop and listen you hear so many animals but very rarely see any as the jungle is so dense.
Tim and I worked out that this was nearly the first place we have been on this trip where we have not been keen to move on to the next place. I truly have been in awe of the place. It’s a combination of not only the natural environment but the lodge as well and the care that has gone in to keep things simple yet comfortable and give you as an authentic experience as possible. I want to find out which charity came and helped the local community establish this place and thank them immensely. The locals who work here are all extremely happy for us to be here as well and are all genuinely happy to show us their home or backyard. 
Simon was desperate to show us monkeys today so we went on the spider monkey trail. Some of the plants we were shown was the cat claw vine which the indigenous people use as a water source when walking in the jungle. I must admit I have forgotten most of the plants names and uses but it was still fascinating to learn. No monkeys though. 
A new couple turned up yesterday and within an hour they had seen 3 different types of monkeys. Which would have been fine except for the fact that they almost had an air of indifference about the place and proceeded to tell us that they were tired and the walk was too long and it was hot. To make matters worse, the next day they proceeded to tell us that on their boat ride they managed to see a jaguar on the bank of the river. We had gotten up at 5am the previous day to increase our chances of seeing animals and they see the most rare of creatures at noon!!! I must admit it was an effort to keep the smile on my face as all I wanted to do was kick them under the table! I know! I know! I should be happy for them but at the time I was a tad jealous. Especially considering that we had a feeling that it was an absolute privilege to experience what we were seeing and doing and to come across others who were taking it for granted made me angry. Anyway you are always going to come across people like that I suppose where it is never good enough.
After another delicious lunch cooked by Erica, this one made more so because it was our Pacu that we caught yesterday, slowly cooked in the outside clay oven with lots of spice. It was awesome! We then reluctantly left the ecolodge for our 3 hour boat ride back to Rurrenabaque. On the way we stopped off at Simon’s community which is about half an hour down the river from Rurrenabaque. When we arrived he pulled out of the esky one of the pacu we caught yesterday and walked up the river bank into the village. 
The first thing we came across was a football pitch and then a cluster of old wood buildings. We walked over to an open covered area which was the kitchen and eating area and there was Simon’s mum, sister and brother and about 7 kids. Simon said this was where they lived but we hope he just met his mum as the hut beside the open covered area was about the size of a garden shed and had one bed. It was really weird as he was greeted by his mum as if he had not been back for a while and when we were walking around he seemed to be greeted with a little bit of indifference by the local people. Simon has been guiding for 18 years and has gotten a teacher to teach him English and dresses a little differently to the rest. Even though his guiding helps the community maybe they think he has changed. Or maybe it was just because we were there and we were reading to much into it. Who knows. The pacu certainly was greatly appreciated by his family and quickly thrown on the grill.
The community was by our standards very poor. Only a few buildings were made of cement and they were recent as a flood wiped out part of the village 2 years ago. Most other buildings are made of wood with thatched roofs and dirt floors. Very little furniture other than a bed really. They mainly grow everything they need and the most common meat is fish. There were lots of chickens running around so I would say eggs are a major part of the diet as well. 
Everyone was a little wary of us which you can understand as I suppose they wonder what we are doing there other than coming to see how “others” live and take a few pictures. 
The community, which is called San Miguel also has an ecolodge apparently and we did wonder where the hell all the money has gone. All the houses did have a little solar panel which provided them with enough electricity to get by and there was a school, but I suppose we were expecting a little more. But in saying that we don’t know how they were living a few years ago and maybe this is an improvement. 
The community practices a mix of Catholicism and their native religion. I always wondered how the missionaries managed to convert tribes to Catholicism but I can imagine if you came with food, medicine and a few improvements to their quality of life I can see how over time the tribes would have started to convert. Especially if their children where being better cared for.
I must admit it was awesome to go and see how an Amazon tribe lived but it brought up more questions than answers. An intense discussion over dinner and a beer was then had over the pros and cons of giving relief and in what form that relief should come in. Just because they don’t live like us that Disney mean they are poor or not fulfilled in their lives. I said more questions than answers. S   
Our path through the jungle.  The walks through the jungle are amazingly relaxing somehow.

A poisoned dart frog.

We stopped at this view for a rest and Simon assured us there were hundreds of monkeys out there!  All joking aside we could have stopped there all afternoon.

The moss covered trees are all around due to the high level of moisture.

A monkey brush, used for coming hair.

Our fish in the oven.  It was truely delicious and while light it was incredibly meaty.

All around the place you see things growing.  Some ginger.

The river had risen loads by the time we returned due to all the rain we had over one evening.  We were sad to be leaving but it was still nice cruising down the brown soupy river watching the jungle.

The town centre at San Miguel.  The building on the left is the community hall.

The school.

A row of houses, not much to them.

The guys had got some funding after a major flood came through and destroyed a lot of their homes. So here they are rebuilding.  Boiling tar to put on the posts before they go in the ground.

Simon’s family home.


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