23. Volunteer

23 Going, coming, back.

Some of you will probable know, but for the ones who don´t know; my sisters wedding was on the 27th of September. Because she´s my sister and she planned that date long before I decided to extend my trip, I had to go home. But I felt not finished yet, I wanted also to stay.
What can I do? Ok, I will go home and come back as soon as possible.
I arrange everything for my trip back, so there wouldn´t fall a hole with only 27 volunteers (from who 8 showed up today. The only thing I couldn´t do, was making the copy of myself that Nena asked me for ;-) But I have some good replacements.
My trip back home started on Saturday (18-9-2004) morning at 3am. Together with another volunteer, we jumped on a passing bus to Santa Cruz.
After 5 hours of half sleeping in the front cabin of the bus, we woke up at the bus station of Santa Cruz. We spent the day together and did some shopping in Santa Cruz.
At 6pm I say goodbye and get on a bus to the border with Argentina. From where I would get a direct connection to Buenos Airas. It would be a bus-ride of 12h to the border, to get at 9am direct a bus to B.A., a bus ride of 27hour……….
But when I arrived at the border, it appears that my 45us$ expensive Flecha Bus ticket to Buenos Airas is not valid!? Luckily (at least for my) there were 3 other, Bolivian, Travellers with the same problem…
After a lot of complaining we get in contact with a Bolivian guy from the Flecha office at the border. First he says that he can´t do anything for us, because we just bought our tickets from the wrong Fletcha-bus office in >Santa Cruz… But after, again a lot of complaining, he agrees to cross the border with us, to arrange some seats at the Flexa-bus office in Argentine.
Unfortunately I lost most of them, while I needed to make a new copy of my passport. I was already 21 days to late to cross the border… Of course they have no copy-machine in the office, so where do I find one that is also open on Sundays? In this village they´re all closed? A taxi driver finds me a shop with a copy-machine.
After I made some copies I go to the immigration, paid 150bs instead of 210 and crossed the border with Argentine.
As I arrive at the Flecha office in Argentine, the Bolivian Flecha guy had already been there, but hadn´t arranged anything and he still had my ticket as well! I tried to explain this to the person of this office, but he told me that he couldn´t do more than to offer me a new ticket for 39us$. At that moment one of the 3 Bolivian travellers comes into the office. Together we decide to go look for our Bolivian guy.
We found him in the office of another bus company? We ask him for our tickets, but he doesn´t want to give them back? Why??? After long pressing, he offers us to buy other, cheaper tickets, from another bus-company. “We don’t want those tickets, we want our own tickets and if you don´t want to give them, we go to the police”. The guy didn´t took us serious, so we went to the Tourist-police. Then he had to take us serious, so he promised to give our tickets back. But when we walked back to his small office, he tried Again!? “O, if you do that again, we just go again to the Police”. “No, no, you get your tickets”. He convinced the other guy to go with a faster bus, yeh, yeh.. But I only wanted to go with the bus I wanted to go from the beginning. In the end he went with me to Flecha. He gets me a ticket and I also find out that the float of busses goes at 13:00h and not at 9am…
After all these small problems, the rest of the return journey went very smooth. Most of the bus ride and during the flights, I slept half. It seems that I needed it.

Then, suddenly I´m on Schiphol Airport (at 11:20am on Wednesday 24-9-2004!?).
Before I forget to mention; I liked Buenos Airas, although I didn´t even spent a whole day there . It looked like a nice city and with her shopping possibilities for especially clothes, it seemed to me like a women-city ;-)

Coming back in Holland, how will that feel, how will that be?
Strange, I don´t feel anything special? It is just the same feeling as if I just came back from a 3 weeks holiday?
At the luggage- band I find out that they forgot my big backpack somewhere on the way back. I don´t really worn about it, I´m back in Holland and everything feels as if I´ve never been away. The bag, yeh, I believe that I will have it back by the end of tomorrow. The short see again/meeting with my parents, sister and friends, feels the same way. They only look a little strange at my black hair, a “gift” from another volunteer who gave me this “present” after a few drinks... Yep, it is just as if I´ve been away for only a few weeks. I think that this is a good sign, I still have a home-base, where I feel at home…

During my 8 days in Holland I also try to get some sponsoring for new cages. This feels a little strange, sins I just spend more than 1000us$ to go back to Holland… But the deep gratitude of my sister and the sight of the pretty and happy bride and bridegroom, make up for a lot.

The last reason to be in Holland is to heal my left ankle and feet. My ankle got a few infected mosquito-bites and became 1.5 times its size. A good lesson; don´t scratch mosquito-bites!!! Unfortunately it is more difficult than I thought to find sponsoring. At least I got some money and ideas for more.

30-9-2004, At 14:35h I´m at Schiphol Airport and I´ve just heard that I can´t fly to Buenos Airas! “Why?!” I don´t have a return and no long time-visa for Argentina…
Luckily I get help from a very helpful desk worker of the air company. After a little more than an hour, she could arrange for me that I can go to B.A. the only condition is that I need to show that I have enough money to buy directly a flight to La Paz, at 350us$? Ok, that is possible, thank you very much Maybe we will see her in the future? I told her how much she had done for the animals of I.W.Y… Friday at 7:25h I arrive at the airport of B.A.. They don´t even ask for my return flight ticket… It is always like that, but better like this than the other way around.

The last part of the return to Villa Tunari goes luckily very smooth.
It just stops raining as I arrive on Sunday the 3th of October at 12:30h. in Villa Tunari. Good timing
Back in the park, I see a lot of new faces and I´m surprised how fast I get used to them. But even more surprised when one of the new volunteers comes to me and tells me that he is happy that I´m back? “Happy, you don´t even know me? But thanks.” I hope people didn´t tell too much about me? That I get a reputation without making it myself…

The next day I can already start to solve, or at least try to solve, a few small problems and bigger problems. By the end of the day I´m so into the work again, that I feel “back home” for the second time in 2 weeks.
This last 2 weeks have cost me a lot of money, but money is not the most important thing in live, it is only an instrument that you need to learn how to play ;-) Except from a happy family, this trip gave me also some sleep and the confirming that I feel at home on places where I´ve people around that I like and places where I can do nice (useful) work without getting bored. An interesting and handy habit for a traveller.

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