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2005-04-11 09:31:00

Monday, April 11, 2005 6:48 am

I try to introspect or I try to think what is happening to me, I try to understand what I am feeling and thinking. It is presumptuous I believe and instinctually I think, I believe in certain that people have no natural ability to observe themselves. The belief that one can or does understand oneself consistently or constantly is a myth, not a myth but a self-deception, delusion that keeps our egos intact. These delusions protect us from self-destruction or ego breakdown.

Freud in his elaborate brilliant observations labeled them ego-defense mechanisms. If he would have remained closer to the source of his observations and the resulting conclusions, instead of building more and more conclusions on top of each conclusions he would have been wise, he as many leave the assumption and travel down the road trying to substantiate too many idea from one observation, nonetheless he did isolate and observe that humans protect their egos, reinforce their own self esteem at all cost.

Travel is an over stimulation of the senses, the mind is a sponge that collects all the data around, or ignores all the data around it. The brain needs to process this data and file it away, well I am positive walking down a street in another country is overloading the computer, and there is not enough time in the day to analyze what is seen, heard, felt, or observed.
Rurrenabaque, Bolivia is tour central, this is one big tour city, hard to see anything that I would say is natural small village Bolivian culture, the place may only exist for tourism. There are too many motorcycles of Bolivia, too many tourist restaurants for Bolivia, too many foreigners for Bolivia, and all the percentages are extremely high, you walk down a street and 35 percent of the people you encounter in the street are foreigners. This is still low season, or maybe the start, however for sure it will only gets worst, or there will be more tourist.

Therefore, in a tourist area…duh, what do people talk about incessantly…? Tours as they are all tourist, I am enveloped in this tour mentality and I am not sure how to escape, after too many years of travel tourist are one big stereotype and the conversation is boring, last night the conversation turned to foods in restaurants, not typical food, but how to find the best western foods to eat, the guidebooks encourage people to leave the country when they eat, so hard to fight. Nobody goes looking for a typical meal, which is a generalization people that is generally correct, dysfunctional to over rule a generalization, because by nature a they are only generally correct.

However, in the back of my mind I have created a goal. I have said to myself,

“It would be nice to find the farthest point possible to enter a river finger of the Amazon River and travel down the river towards Iquitos, Peru or maybe Manous, Brazil.”

Yes, of course you can look at map and find rivers, however the problem is this does not say the river is fast, slow, winding, full of crazies, muddy, shallow, has boats, no boats, swamps, people, no people, there is not clear mapping of the river that explains the pros and cons of each river. The best books are in English and probably in some library in the USA, I am here with a bunch of tourist that talk incessantly about tours and yes they did tsee animals or no they did they not see animals, a constant comparison of the tour companies and to me all the tour companies are just tour mills, running the tourist in and running them out, I have not met one intelligent tour guide yet, there are funny ones yes, but enthused, full of knowledge bursting at the seems, no. It is the same as normal, people become tour guides for two reasons, they live here, and second it is a good way to meet foreign girls and pretend they are not Bolivian.

For sure, this place is in dire need here for a couple of Germans or Americans with some organizational skills to bring the standard of tours up five levels.

However, however, there are some hangers around here that are staying too long and do know the ins and outs of this place. I have seen nothing so far that would inspires me to tell anyone they need to come visit Rurrenabaque, this I have learned is fools observations. When there are many people, they can cover up the great reasons to visit a place.

OK, I am wrong, it feels like there is a lot of tourist, in reality they can only bring in about 36 tourists per day by planes, and maybe 15 more come by bus, so the gap is small of incoming and leaving tourist. Iquitos Peru and Manaus is processing hundreds per day and no comparison; however, those cities are more interesting and are not just a destination, but a starting point and ending point. This is only a destination, there is not way to go from here but back where you came from, unless I suppose you are me and would consider taking a month trip down the river towards and that is the question is it Manaus or Iquitos. Manaus is a very long trip and once you get into Brazil there is not way, you are on the other side of the continent.

However, there are three individuals here I can tap for information.

1. The I do not want to compete in the western work Expat American that sells Banana Bread and Cinnamon Rolls.

2. Australian, Chinese girl that got pregnant by the tour guide that is delusional that life is better for her future baby here.

3. The Argentina hippy that is working on every entrepreneurial venture possible, from passing out brochure of Foreigner bars, he gave me one on the Banana something, plus weaves and sells street jewelry. Fun to watch the facts of life intersect the brain of the wanna be hippies.

People need money and nothing is more capitalistic or money driven than selling jewelry or working in a bar. It is just a shorter version of selling Rolex watches, both are luxuries and nothing to do with needs. Selling luxury require more marketing, manipulative skills than selling toilet paper. One person feels they need trinkets and others you must convince people they need, I suppose the jewelry would be considered art if everyone did not make the same.

OK, these three may be able to me where there is something special here to see if I can keep them from trying to get a commission. If I say, I have already been on a tour they may accidentally tell me where the places they would go to see the jungle that is not trampled to death. My guts tell me this place is beat, there is a need for a new path, this one is fried, and too many tourists have destroyed the place.

The gossip is that TAM or the Military airlines has abandoned their flights here, I am not sure, there are two other airline companies besides the Amaszonas Airlines and they both seem to be out of business. Failure to thrive is not a good sign. This is my quandary, something is wrong; they seem to have missed the boat. I have not been able to place my finger on what is going on here, however it appears that maybe they are not going to make the transition from being a backpacker stop to a four star tourist trap. They are bumbling; this is a great time for some major tour operators, hotels to step in a do something correct.

I think I know the problem; the truck trip is too much for tourist. You can take a plane here, that is easy, then you can book a tour, however they then load you inside a four-wheel drive Toyota like cattle and make you ride in bumpy, hot, dusty conditions for 3-4 hours, then they put you on a boat for 3-4 hours more until you arrive at the base camp. I did my best to ignore the trip there and back that was over one third of the trip. Getting there and returning is just the ride, the tour was consumed by transportation time, so actual time spent viewing was minimal.

This was part of the torture to see the place, not bad for 22 year old out of army Israeli people, but a few of the older Frenchies I seen looked like their brains were mush from the heat and conditions.

Air Conditioning

That is what is missing; they are trying to sell this type of trip with no Air Conditioning, only the Israeli travelers that has to be about 70 percent presently here can handle this type of trip. I avoid air conditioning and never think about it, however most travelers are always talking about the weather, too hot, too cold, this is why more modern places like Buenos Aires and such are popular, they are not primitive, the are wanna be Europe places and the travelers can party and have an excuse to be out of the country but can purchase they home away from home.

(I feel stupid when I am in a winter country during winter, I can be in the tropics whenever I wish, so why choose misery?)

All it takes is one air conditioned four wheel drive vehicle to capture the whole tour market here… hehehe

Really, this is not true, Rurrenabaque is over 4-5 hours away from where you go to see the animals, which I did not see, however I think they may be there and we are too far away. The Amazon is too populated with tourist, I believe to have a unique trip you probably need to rent an airplane that can land on water, so you can go way down river to remote places. I started to say to villages along the river, however I am not sure if there is villages along this river, boat people, villages on stilts and all that type of fish people are not around here, I suppose they exist. I do not feel indigenous around the area, they have either moved away or did not exist. There are way to may Mestizo types around with beards, mustaches and Spanish blood, not the brown, sun baked no beard types.

I will place some exploratory questions in the minds of my three people; see if I can bleed off the skinny on what is essential here to know. For sure, the guidebook I have is worthless.

Iquitos, Peru is a much better choice for hundreds of reasons, although for the need to drink bunch, or the Alcoholic traveler this place is better, Iquitos though has the Ayahausca for the drug traveler.

I am a cultural traveler and for sure I believe the large floating house village and huts on the river of Iquitos is more unique and special, they call it I believe Belen. I went and scrounged around in old newsletter, I hope all these links work. Nonetheless, Belen in the city of Iquitos is to me one of the unique places on the planet, and especially unique to the Amazon River or the Amazon River basin or maybe best described as the flood plain areas. Belen has typical home both floating on what am told is balsa wood logs and also the home on very high legs, the water of the Amazon rise and falls up to maybe 15 meters and the actual homes in the flood plain either need to float of have very high legs. In Iquitos with some bravery you can enter one of the dodgy sections of the world, full of grime, mud, dirt, all sorts of wonderful messes and walk around where 99 percent of your travelers are too afraid to venture, mainly because they would get dirty, however for sure one of my top places to visit on the planet, raw Amazon culture, full on. I do not think it even makes it into the guidebooks, however very few of the great places will, because they are too much for tourist to endure…. What fun?

By Wally Lloyd