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  • Writer's pictureRob Jansen

It's a Wild Life! - The Little Things

In our blogs, we've shared stories of some of our adventures and experiences. We typically write one blog per month, containing about 3-4 stories, giving you a glimpse of the things we encounter on our journey. However, for us, travel involves so much more than just the major moments and daily activities. It's often the brief, unexpected moments that can either make or break our day. Sometimes, when writing our blog or chatting with friends and family on the phone, we forget to recount these little moments. Here are some recent happenings:

1. On September 13th, our day unfolded as follows: birding in Peru in the morning, crossing the border into Brazil by late morning, driving 150km, and finally crossing the border into Bolivia in the afternoon. This led to a rather unique introduction at the Bolivian border when we had to explain that we are from the Netherlands, driving with a Chilean car, and that we cross the border from Peru to Bolivia via Brazil. The Bolivian border officers seemed a bit perplexed – and to be honest, we're not entirely sure they fully grasp it even now.

2. We unexpectedly found ourselves driving through a religious procession for ‘Santa Rosa de Lima’ that took place right on the road. Since the road was about to close further up the mountain for maintenance, we couldn't afford to wait for the post-sermon beers.

3. We achieved a significant milestone during this South American journey: we observed our 2500th bird species!

4. A stray dog suddenly began chasing the car in front of us. Rob couldn't swerve in time, and the dog ended up under our rear tires.

5. During one of our nighttime spotlighting walks in the Amazon, we were shot at by an indigenous person armed with a bow and arrow.

6. Just before Romy brought a spoonful of beans to her mouth, she noticed large larvae among them. Rob was genuinely surprised she hadn't spotted that extra, pinkish macaroni while cooking.

7. Due to time constraints, we decided to ignore a stop sign and maneuvered our way through a roadblock/road maintenance area.

8. Romy thought she had a better route than just following Rob while walking through a mountain marsh at an altitude of 3500m. As it turned out, her choice was less than ideal, and she ended up knee-deep in muddy ground. Her only option was to clean her boots, socks, and pants by washing them in ice-cold water. Ironically, just before this mishap, we had been discussing how fortunate we were that our boots hadn't gotten wet yet inside, which would be terrible due to their insulated lining.

9. Rob wrote an article/note about our sighting of a rare bird species that will soon be published in Cotinga Magazine.

10. Rob also wrote another article about an exploratory trip we undertook into a valley in Peru that will be published soon in Neotropical Birding Magazine.

11. We’ve been held up by a roadblock for 50+ hours because that’s the way locals in Bolivia negotiate. Trying to get smuggled through the forest with our car we hit a branch and broke our exhaust.

12. As we were about to retire for the night after a long and exhausting day, Rob noticed eyeshine through the mesh of our cabin. After hastily donning our clothes again, it turned out to be a snake catching a bird right before our eyes!

13. We traversed a mountain pass at an altitude exceeding 4.700m.

14. We enjoyed the local thermal baths, costing only 1€ per person. While not exactly a Western spa, it was better than nothing when showers are out of reach.

15. We camped for four nights at a lodge that typically charges 300USD per night.

16. The ground next to a canoe wasn't as stable as Rob had assumed, resulting in him going hip-deep into the water. Thankfully, the camera remained safe, but his phone ended up completely soaked.

17. While taking the unplanned hip-deep dip, Rob once again tore his pants, which now sport more stitches and patches than original fabric.

18. Rob ignited actual dynamite within a mine in Potosí, Bolivia (enhancing the explosion with a mixture of fertilizer soaked in gasoline for an even more powerful blast)

19. Remember how we temporarily lost our front license plate in eastern Argentina at the beginning of 2022? During the interim period between losing and recovering it, we applied for a new one in Chile. Now, 1.5 years later, it's finally ready for pickup.

20. When we had a flat tire in Cuzco, Romy took the tire in a taxi to the mechanic to get it fixed.

21. In addition to our tried-and-true tactic of suddenly not speaking Spanish when stopped by the police, we've added a new trick: not stopping and giving a friendly wave back when they signal us to halt (or were theirs friendly waves after all too?).

22. During our visit to Cuenca, Ecuador, we had the fascinating opportunity to view authentic shrunken human heads on display in a museum.

23. The meat sections in South American supermarkets continue to astound us. Frequently, they include a subsection known as 'intestines,' offering prepackaged options such as tongue, kidneys, and liver, among others.

24. Along our journey, we encountered what has to be the most concise place name we've ever come across: 'La T.' Not surprisingly, it consisted of nothing more than one T-intersection and some houses.

Currently, we are in Bolivia, and it feels utterly surreal. Our upcoming plans involve heading to northern Chile, followed by northwest Argentina. From Córdoba, we will take our first flight since arriving in Chile in October 2021, flying to Ushuaia in the southern region of Argentina. From there, we'll embark on a dream-come-true cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia, and The Falkland Islands. Following this incredible adventure, we'll drive our car from Argentina to Santiago in Chile, concluding our South American journey as we make arrangements to sell our car and return home to The Netherlands for a week. Although there are still approximately three months until our flight, it feels as though our trip is drawing to a close. We understand that three months may seem like a lengthy period, akin to at least 3-4 typical holidays for most people. However, for us, after nearly two years of traveling through South America, it feels like a relatively brief time. We're currently emptying our food storage, giving our tent a thorough cleaning, and preparing the car's advertisement for sale. The closer we come to the end of our travels, the more peculiar it feels. Thankfully, we still have numerous little adventures awaiting us in the days to come.


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