E-mail Update - 2009-08-19

Back Home & More Bolivia Pictures

Hey Everyone,

First off I wanted to let everyone know that I came back home a little early (was meant to be home tomorrow August 20). Nothing major went wrong I just had things I wanted to do at home before University started, plus I missed my family and Becky. It has been good to be home and I am happy with the decision. A big thanks goes out to Julie for helping me surprise Becky. She set it up so that Becky thought she was coming late on a Monday night so that she was at the apartment and awake. Instead mom had picked me up from the bus stop in Madison and when Becky opened the door it was me! In fact Julie had been so convincing that even after I was there it still took Becky a few minutes to figure out that Julie was not coming. Becky had no idea that I was coming home, which is great because I love surprising people :)

As most of you Becky and I started our summer trip to South America on May 25. Becky went home on June 30 and she, along with my family, had moved my things into our new apartment in Platteville since she was living there after getting back. Since I have been home I have finished sorting out the boxes and setting up the apartment, which looks quite nice. We are living at Pioneer Apartments (#32) which is about a mile from campus. It is really quiet and in a nice area by the parks and swimming pool. We even have DSL (high speed internet) now which, of course, makes me quite happy! It is quite a comfortable place and Becky has been a great person to live with. Other than getting settled in I have been spending tons of time with family and Becky (when she is not working one of her 2 jobs). We did go to Six Flags with Katie, Julie and Julie's friend Liz. We had a lot of fun and rode all the best rides. My favorite was probably Superman (how can you not like flying through the air with the greatest of ease), although there were several other awesome ones just as cool. It has been great to see all of my family, but especially my nephew (John) and niece (Shelby). The great thing about seeing John is that he didn't even miss a beat, when he saw me he was ready to play instantly, there was no hesitation. Shelby being the age she is has been making strange to some people, but the cool thing was that she has not had any problems with me. In fact she loves me being around and we have a lot of fun (plus she just took her first steps this past Saturday). I have been able to babysit a couple times with just them two, which has been great. John seems to have boundless energy for chase, which seems to be his favorite word. He did make me quite happy when the other day he came into my parents house and even though everyone was there in the kitchen except me & from my bedroom I heard him shout my name first thing when he came in the door :) He loves his uncle!

Ok now about the trip itself…attached are pictures from two of the coolest activities we did in Bolivia. I don't have time to go in depth into them both now, but I will explain the pictures. The first pictures are from the El Choro trek which is a 3-day, 70 kilometer (44 miles) route in the Andes Mountains. The highest point of El Choro is 4859 meters (15,942 feet) high, and is called Abra Chucura, which is where the first picture of the summit/Becky and the second picture of the llamas/view were taken. This trek was also interesting because it was the first time that I had carried a large backpack on a trek. Becky also carried the pack some of the time as we would switch between the big pack with the tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats & clothes and the small bag that had food and drinks. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, except in the areas of the hike which were really slippery. Usually these spots were ones with water and moss over the rocks, making it both slippery and dangerous if you fell. The nice part of carrying all this equipment, which we had bought from Cabela's and REI before leaving with my brother's help, was that we were never cold when it came time to sleep at night. This was even though we were very high in the mountains and our tent would often freeze on the outside over night. We even had thermal clothes to wear at night but rarely needed them as the between the tent, sleeping mats and sleeping bags it was enough to keep us warm. It was the first time I have ever camped with proper equipment while traveling and I would now find it hard to go back to the cold uncomfortable nights from before. The third picture (Becky_El_Choro_Tent) shows Becky at a camping spot on the trek.

The second set of 3 pictures are from our trip to the Amazon rainforest near the city called Rurrenabaque. We did a 3-day trip to the Pampas (Amazon Rain Forest Basin). This was both Becky and I's favorite part of the entire trip. We saw so much wildlife, it was amazing. We saw pink river (freshwater) dolphins, capybara, alligators, caimans, anaconda, numerous fish including piranha, 3 different types of monkeys, eagles and numerous other types of birds and animals in general. The ride to get there is a 3-4 hour ride on dirt roads which were dusty on the way there and muddy on the way back (we got stuck one time on the way back, but were able to get out). The fourth picture (Brock_in_Truck) shows our vehicle and road on the way there. Once to the river we took these really long boats through the rivers (pampas) and the guide pointed out wildlife as we went. I find it hard to imagine a more diverse place above water. We were almost constantly looking this way or that for something else. We even saw dolphins fishing on the river. They would force the fish toward the shore and the fish would jump out of the water trying to get away (even sometimes onto land). It was just so interesting to watch the fish trying to get away. We also got to see monkeys and it wasn't in the distance. Monkey came within 1 meter (3 foot) of the boat, which is what allowed me to get the last 2 pictures that are attached.

Well that is the short version for now, at some point in the future I will try to write more, but for now I am spending most of my time getting ready for university. I hope everyone had a great summer :) As always if you want off the travel update list or if you would like to add a friend simply let me know.

Love & Peace!