Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pampas Tour- Day Two. The Annoying Continues.

Bats sleeping on the ceiling

This is our camp. In the wet season, there are even more mosquitoes and the river rises up to floor level.

We awoke to a day with none of the warmth and humidity we had so enjoyed previously. The cool air and grey sky were the aftermath of a storm that meant the pampas would be even further underwater than the usual gumboot depth, so we went piranha fishing instead.


Much to the amusement of onlookers, our group descended the muddy bank to the canoe below. The normally simple process of getting down became a convoluted ordeal due to the rain-soaked mud which at once had the consistency of both Perkins Paste and motor oil. After twenty minutes of near-misses with the slick slimedirt we found ourselves aboard and relatively clean. Freddo proceeded to motor us ten metres- literally- down river to the fishing spot. People watching were rolling on the walkways laughing at the sight of us so desperately clambering to get into a boat to get to a place that we could have walked to in thirty seconds. Thankfully, nothing was biting there and we had to move on.


When we found a good spot, lines went out and the frustrating process of being outsmarted by fish the size of pikelets began (not for me- I just took photos and commentated). The little fish were very adept at eating bait without actually touching the hook, a skill that resulted in much angst amongst the group. Freddo managed to haul a few in, then Angie landed a beast, letting him go minus the Rex Hunt kiss. Once everyone whose sense of worth depended on catching a piranha had caught one, we putted off to lunch. The catch turned up at the end of the meal, deep-fried whole like fishy Pringles-devoid of meat- all head, bones and skin.

Meet Pedro

Following a rest to recover form the morning’s battles, we once again boarded the canoe and motored off to one of the most popular pink dolphin hangouts. We were there to swim with these weird fish, but first we had to be introduced to the resident crocodilian life. Pedro was the main man in these parts, two metres of prehistoric handbag fodder that would come when called like a big, ugly waterborne dog. With a few taps of Pedro’s snout, Freddo introduced us and declared the dull brown water safe to enter.

Getting acquainted.

Look just to the left of Angie's head...

Tentatively, three of us stripped down and edged into the water. The dolphins had a cursory glance, but seemed uninterested in a few pale bipeds, and they quickly got back to the business of floating around being dolphins. At the forefront of our minds were not these examples of river fauna; we were more concerned about the piranhas, alligators and any number of insidious parasites that also inhabited this body of water.

The highly excitable Bird of Paradise. They freak out at everything, squawking and flapping about in a most unprofessional manner.

A much more composed bird

After a few minutes of swimming, there was no sign of malicious gators or urethra invading microfish, so the others joined us. The tranquillity of the scene was interrupted by a series of yelps that rose into a panicky crescendo, climaxing with the sight of a thong surfacing next to Angie’s thigh. It seemed that her footwear had secretly removed itself from her foot, and then repeatedly barged into her leg as it shimmied up to the surface. Angie’s terrified shrieks of ‘ohmygodsomethingjusttouchedmeonthelegwhatisitshititdiditagain!!!’ put everyone on edge, and we retired to a riverside pub soon afterwards.

After looking around the hostel/pub for a while, we decided that the people here got a better deal and returned to our dilapidated mosquito nest. Dinner was served and Freddo deemed tomorrow a 5 a.m. start, so we cocooned ourselves soon after.

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