Traveling with my dog in Bolivia
Bolivia will always be so special to me since it is where I found Cocaí. Where it all began. In the picture María Jesús and Munaí (Coqui's brother) are with us. The trip together through these beautiful lands was short. However, in such a short period we live great adventures, use different forms of transport and accommodation... Here we will see some advice on traveling with a dog according to my experience.
Note. It should be taken into account that in the first countries Cocaí was just a puppy (she weighed a few kilos), so traveling was easier than now, whose weight goes between 22 to 24 kg (depending on if she gets a bit fat).
We traveled from Samaipata to the Amazonian north on the border with Brazil (Guayaramerín - Guajara-mirim).
Samaipata - Santa Cruz - Trinidad - San Ignacio de Moxos - San Borja - Rurrenabaque - Santa Rosa de Yacuma (Reserve) - Riberalta - Guayaramerín.
LENGTH OF THE TRIP
About 15 days.
There were no problems in terms of letting us get on public transport. Of course, the way was full of adventures! Here are some of them:
Night excursion on the bus. First long trip for Coqui, from Santa Cruz to Trinidad. It is night and we are in the bus station of Sta Cruz. The saleswoman tells me she does not think there is any problem with the dog. However, when it comes time to get on the bus, I have her hidden just in case. Coqui must weigh three kg at most and fits in a bag I am carrying. I am exhausted, it has been a long day. I talk for a while with my partner in the bus, but it does not take long before I fall asleep. Suddenly a stir brings me out of Neverland. What happened? My partner tells me that my dog is out there and that she has shit all over the bus. “Out there? Shit all over the bus?” I look down. In fact, Cocaí is not in the bag! Just when I stand to go and look for her, the driver appears (there was a door that separated the front room where the driver is from the rest of the bus). He tells me, in a very bad way (and with good reason) that I am going to have to get off the bus and I become very arrogant and spit him out "no way, I paid for the trip and I have rights!". Grumbling, he returns to the driver's room. I am scared, because I do not want to get off the bus at night in the middle of the jungle. I try to get to the aisle and look for Cocaí. Everyone is looking at me, I do not know if they are pissed off or surprised to find out who is the responsible to get them out of their dream. Some bodies that have made of the floor their bed also stare at me. I draw these people as best I can. I ask about my dog and no one answers. I start to get nervous and ask harder. And, to my surprise, several voices tell me to wait, that later they will give her to me. "LATER? WHERE'S MY DOG?! " I finally found her. A man, sitting in one of the rows in the middle of the bus, held Cocaí in his arms. The man was old and looked at me in fear, pushing the dog away, just to the other side. I asked him to give me my dog and his answer was: "It's mine, they gave it to me." Everyone looked at us, but nobody did anything. I was losing patience, so instead of lovingly asking him to give me my dog back, I reached out and grabbed Coqui. The struggle lasted for a few seconds, until finally Cocaí returned with daddy. I did not sleep the rest of the night. I did not want Cocaí to go “hiking” again and make a mess.
Cocaí shitting out the window. We talk about sphincters again. Poor Coqui, at this point in her life, she was not yet able to keep her cavities closed for a long time. Thus, several times “we” had to pee and shit while the bus was running. Fortunately, the windows of Bolivian buses can be opened from inside! I have to say that I am very proud of Cocaí. At such a young age she became an expert at telling me when she could not stand it any longer. Her sobbing was the warn to open the window and hold her in the air while watering and fertilizing beautiful jungle lands.
Hurry up, I need to go to the toilet!
Safari in the mud. It is the last sunlight of the day, shining on San Ignacio de Moxos. A van is going to leave for San Borja and I get a ticket. Inside the vehicle there are more passengers: a woman with two young children (almost babies), a young woman, a teenager, several men. What we did not know is that during that journey we were going to be a small family. We left, and everything looked good. Nothing pointed to that we were going to get stuck on that road (I say road?) of mud and stay there during the whole night. Well, that is exactly what happened. And many adventures and stories to remember. The car in which we were traveling was not prepared at all for that madness of mud. Those wheels were jokes. What was not a joke were the first skids. After a while I was afraid. Everybody was afraid! It would not have seemed strange to me that we had overturned! After the skidding began the truly good. The first time we got stuck we could leave without much effort. In the second a couple of men, the most vigorous of the team, had to get out and help. From that moment on we could not do nor even 20 meters in a row without skidding, stopping or getting stuck. In a "technical stop" I had to lend a hand (and never better said) to the children's mother. While she was changing the diaper to the smallest, I held the penis to the eldest (about 3 years) who was peeing through the door. I must already have a master's degree in urinary emergencies. At one point, we were stuck in the mud at night, for more excitement. This time it seemed we had already hit rock bottom. Game over. But not yet. Three of us got out of the car to push the vehicle from behind, and other men did the same from the sides, under a torrential rain and sinking in the mud to the knees. And some even more than to his knees! We were pushing with all our strength when the vehicle finally advanced. Inertia made one of the men fall on his face! The fucking driver did not stop running until after a “few” meters leaving us in the mud in the darkness of the jungle. I do not know if it was the fear, but something prompted us young boy and me to hold hands and run at full speed until get the van. That was pure adrenaline! In the end, after so much struggle, after helping other cars pulling with ropes and being saved by others, we could not do more. We got stuck and spent the night there. In the morning we were rescued, and we arrived in San Borja. There Cocaí and I rested for several days in a room (family business). We were exhausted physically and psychologically. There had been an extraordinary event! A stretch of about 140 km took us almost 20 hours…
Mama helping one of her children to make a pee from the combi
This was the "road"... In one of his best sections!
Sailing among crocodiles. A guided tour that showed us the most animal side of the Amazon. Super recommendable and cheap. Coqui could come without any trouble, they only warned me to keep an eye on her because there were many crocodiles. Hell, yeah, he was right! Different types of transport. First a van that took us to the edge of the reserve, then a little boat with which we covered for three days different sections of the protected area. The base camp consisted of cabins where Cocaí could come in and sleep. I was fortunate to have an excellent company: a very nice guide and a Moroccan globe-trotter family. A marriage with three fabulous children who have undertaken the mission to travel the planet documenting everything. They have a section on a tv program from Morocco. This is their Facebook page, in case you want to take a look: Planet Khmissa. In those three days in the “Pampas” we saw many animals, besides the crocodiles: birds of all sizes and colors; saimiris, spider monkeys and capuchins; a lazy sloth on top of a tree; pink dolphins... With the latter we swam! The funny thing is that I was afraid of the crocodiles but in the end who bit my foot (and made me bleed the son of a bitch) was a dolphin. I was with swimming with one of the Moroccan kids when suddenly he complained and then I understood why. Something was biting us, and with such force that it hurt. We ran to the boat without a second thought!
Documenting the tour in the Bolivian Pampas
Swimming in the river. Watch out for the dolphins!
As for accommodation there was a bit of everything. We camped in Samaipata (camping), San Ignacio de Moxos (wild camping) and Rurrenabaque (wild camping); a room in San Borja and Guayaramerín; a cabin in Santa Rosa de Yacuma (organized excursion to Las Pampas). I did not have to look for alternatives because in all places they allowed us to stay without any problem. On the tour they also told me nothing about bans with Cocaí. The only thing was that I had to watch her 24/7 if I did not want her to finish in some crocodile's belly.
Camping at Laguna Isireri, San Ignacio de Moxos
FOOD LOCALS AND OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS
In establishments there were no objections either. In Bolivia and other countries (Peru and Ecuador among them) where there are plenty of markets and family food stalls you will not have any problem sitting at the table with your dog. At that time Cocaí was still not very territorial with food and there were no problems with stray dogs. However, she became a bit territorial as she grew and for instance at taquerias in Mexico Cocaí was fussier with those who dared to approach our table/space. You can also easily enter in locutorios (computer rooms). I did not try museums with her, though.
Zero problems to enter with your dog to canteens, like this one in Guayaramerín
It usually seems easy to take your dog on organized excursions, even those involving conservation of the environment like the one we did in Santa Rosa de Yacuma. In National Parks, Reserves and natural spaces in general, you will not have problems either. Very permissive.
They never asked me for documentation, but always keep it in order just in case, and, above all, for your dog sake. The rabies vaccination is very important as there are many stray dogs. The vaccine against some lethal viruses such as parvovirus is a must.
Pros: Easy to travel in terms of getting around by public transport. Free and without rules.
Cons: Not much doggy culture. Many stray dogs with scabies and fleas.
Degree of difficulty to travel: 2.