After finally getting off La Pinta and setting foot back on dry land, we found ourselves in basically the middle of nowhere. We were happy that River boat hitchhiking in Bolivia was done. It was a tiny port with a few rundown boats parked and a few thatch shacks at the end of a dirt road. Truly the back of beyond, like someplace out of Heart of Darkness or “Apocalypse Now”. We knew it might be a long wait for a ride into Trinidad, so we sat down at a cafe and ordered “almuerzos”–hot noodle soup followed by a plate of rice, spaghetti, potatoes, and beef. The heat was oppressive and we were pouring sweat even sitting in the shade. Thankfully, while we were eating, a dusty, falling-apart taxi pulled up chock full of supplies. While the driver unloaded his deliveries, we finished our lunch and afterwards waited a few minutes for more people to fill the car. With four locals in the backseat, the driver, and Zach and I sharing the front passenger seat, we bounced off along the bumpy track towards Trinidad. The short trip included a river crossing on a very rickety wooden ferry, and passed through several more tiny port villages.
Finally we reached Trinidad, a small city which is capital of Bolivia’s jungly Beni province. Trinidad is known for it’s many motorcycles; everyone seems to have one and there are hardly any cars. The motorcycles zip around the streets like mad, ignoring traffic laws and narrowly missing accidents at every turn. It’s a miracle we didn’t get run over! Tourists can also rent motorcycles. If that’s your idea of fun, go for it. To me it sounds like inevitable road rash, if not worse.
Finding an acceptable hostel took awhile, but we eventually stumbled into Alojamiento Carmen, a decent place with fans and shared bathrooms, the highlight being the cable TV with a plethora of English channels. They had the Latin American versions of TLC, WB, and FOX, so we spent a lot of time in the room watching random things like “No Reservations” (love Anthony Bourdain), “Ace of Cakes”, “Friends”, “Two and a Half Men”, “Grey’s Anatomy” (My guilty pleasure…but what is GOING ON there? I’ve missed so much!), and the worst one ever, “Man vs. Food.” Normally I get so disgusted watching Adam stuff his face and get fatter every episode, but try watching it in Bolivia and just see how horribly HUNGRY and JEALOUS you get!
Okay, that was a major TV tangent. But really, it ended up being good that we had so many channels because there’s not much else to do in Trinidad! The city is so hot and humid that you start sweating after walking only one block. There are also a lot of mosquitoes out at night. Suffice it to say, after only a few hours of wandering the streets, we were bored.
That night we had a bit of an existential crisis. We had planned to stay for a couple nights in Trinidad, find another boat, and continue down the Rio Mamoré to Guayaramerin, on the Brazilian border. There were two major reasons we had decided to do this: 1. Getting off the Gringo Trail and 2. It’s cheap! What we finally admitted to ourselves this night in Trini was that despite our best-laid plans, we were bored. We had been a bit bored, in fact, ever since realizing how behind on our budget we were, and cutting back on all activities and extras to try to make up for it. What ensued was a long discussion about our priorities and how to make this the best possible experience. We came to two conclusions: 1. We don’t want to go into debt on this trip. (Debt-free is the way to be!) 2. If we’re not having fun then we need to change something. Therefore, a hard decision was made. We conceded to the possibility of returning home earlier (in June rather than July). Nothing is official (we still don’t have a return ticket), but doing this would definitely ease the financial strain and allow us to enjoy the time we have left a lot more. We’d rather say we had an AMAZING TIME for 7 months than that we toughed it out on very little money for 8 months. (Although, of course, if anyone wants to send us some $$, we won’t say no, lol.) So in the interest of making it back to the states faster and ditching the heat, mosquitoes, and boat boredom, we changed our plan (again) and decided that Brazil can wait for another trip. “Let’s get out of this sweaty town, back to the mountains and Perú!” we said. Arequipa, Perú, was the next place we were really excited for, and we desperately needed some excitement. If only we knew how impossible it would be get back on the grid…
Please read the beginning of our River boat Hitchhiking in the Bolivian Amazon Aventura!