A brief overnight stop to hunt for sloths.
Our hostel, Jodanga Backpackers, was really quite nice but it had an odd vibe. There were a few people stood alone in different areas, nursing bottles of beer and sheepishly looking between their phones and any passers by. It was like everybody was desperate for a friend and a banging night out but had forgotten how to make it happen. One guy tried to get something started as I looked around the hall…
“Yeah, my girlfriend”
He chuckles and moves towards me like the adventure’s about to begin but then Kim comes out of her room and I talk to her instead so he sidles back to his solitude. Sorry man, it’s not a ‘night out’ kind of night for me today.
So we go to the botanic gardens with the knowledge that there are sloths within. The gardens are formal at the front, and then there is a large forest that makes up most of the area and considering its proximity to the city, it’s actually quite wild. There is a pond with caiman and turtles, a cool viewing tower above the canopy and we see monkeys and birds aplenty. Really cheap too.
We’re here for sloths though and the place quite magically delivers with two nice viewings. As we watch I come to terms with the fact that I’ll never make Kim as happy as a sloth can.
I’d advise against going to the bottom of the park. Unexpectedly it provided the most awkward and unpleasant walking of my whole time in Bolivia. The paths were a flooded quagmire and skirting them was dense, spiny foliage. So it’s mud to your knees or covered in scratches. Avoid.
Kimmy did not enjoy this part… She was attacked by raptors and barely lived to tell the tale. But she was very brave, didn’t even cry and impressed everyone in Santa Cruz (including the sloths) with her survival abilities. I wish I was more like Kim. [This paragraph may or may not have been written by Kim].
We aimed to go to what is apparently the worlds biggest butterfly place but ran out of time, got our bus and so ended our time here. The bus trip was weird, it was a comfy vehicle with fully reclining chairs where strange things happen. Firstly about six different vendors come on selling different foods, but the ticket lady said there’ll be a dinner stop so we leave it. There is no dinner stop. About fifty minutes after we’re supposed to leave, we’re hungry and under time pressure to get another bus early in the morning. There is a chorus of “Vamos jefe!!” from the other irate passengers and a man comes on with a guitar, a late arrival? Wait, no, he’s unzipping the case, oh please no. He’s stood by our seat and sure enough, bursts into loud song, a passionate Spanish piece. While this is happening there is also background music playing and the film Airplane vs Volcano* in dubbed Spanish. I could write for hours about the wonders of that cinematic masterpiece, from the way 1000 volcanoes burst out of the ocean in an instant to the daredevil attempt to fix a broken engine mid flight with a hammer by dangling a man outside on a chain of seatbelts. Suffice to say it was hard to take anything seriously with that on in the background. Kim and I try to keep a straight face. Appearing suddenly from the rift, peering over our chair, a little girl with a loud, piercing voice emphatically bursts into song, making a chaotic duet. Kim and I burst into laughter, trying to be discrete as they carry on beside us and the blandly handsome hunk piloting the plane grapples with a terrorist.
Bolivian buses man, something else.
*Starring Dean Cain of The Dog Who Saved Christmas , The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation , The Dog Who Saved Halloween , The Dog Who Saved the Holidays , The Dog Who Saved Summer , A Dog for Christmas , A Horse For Summer , Horse Camp , The Three Dogateers , Defending Santa , The Case for Christmas , A Nanny for Christmas , A Christmas Wedding , Firedog , I Do (But I Don’t) , Gentle Ben and Gentle Ben 2—Danger on the Mountain fame.
Just look at him with that bear, no wonder he’s a star.