They don't call me Marc Singer

I am back in Cochabamba after a badly failed attempt to finally make myself useful; I suppose it should have been expected after 25 years.

I decided to get the free $45 visa, finally, when I heard of the opportunity to volunteer at a nearby animal reserve, Inti Wara Yassi. The reserve is located 4 hours from Cochabamba, in the middle of a rainforest, and contains a wide variety of animals that were rescued from circuses or mistreating owners.

I took the bus on Tuesday morning, arriving at the reserve by mid-afternoon, and introduced myself to the 15 or so other volunteers that were working there. I was so excited about the chance to work with monkeys, parrots, badgers, a jaguar, a mountain lion (cleverly named "Gato"), otters and weasels, that I immediately became violently ill. I don't know if it was some food I drank or some water I ate, but something certainly didn't agree with my stomach. Or perhaps my stomach was in agreement, joining up in cahoots to make me bedridden. Either way, I was rough for a few days.

I was also informed that the minimum time needed to volunteer was 2 weeks, which would have required *another* free $45 visa by the time I got out of the country, so I decided then that the volunteering wasn't going to happen.

Instead, I just spent two days relaxing in the forest, with all sorts of monkeys attaching themselves to me, climbing up and down through my shirt, and badgers trying to fornicate on my lap. The monkeys - there were three kinds: spider, cappuchino and amarillo - are extremely people-friendly, and it was a hilarious sight to see a group of a dozen or so people wandering about, doing work, all with monkeys grappling with their heads. I sat in the park and tried to read some of Dante's "Inferno", which seemed amazingly appropriate as a towering cyclone of primates circled incessantly around my head. (approx. Walls of Dis, Circle V)

Still nauseous and feeling the effects of a cerebrum-liquifying fever, the humidity of the rainforest also began to take its toll. I wished desperately for cool, sweet rain, which I hadn't seen over 2 hours of in 10 weeks of travel. I was awoken at 3:00 am by deafening thunderclaps and a torrential jungle downpour that didn't stop for over a day; I swore angrily at Chinese curses for consistently trying to ruin life. I hopped on the first bus back to Cochabamba, where I am now.

With regards to this website, I had decided to try and get in contact with Lonely Planet, writing a quick e-mail wondering if there was anyone around who might have a chance to look around travelbugger.com. I had simply asked if there was an editor, author or publisher who might have the time to give my writing a critical review. What I received in return was a massive form rejection letter, turning me down for a job I wasn't even applying for. Undaunted, I sent this back:

Dear Madam/Sir/To Whom It May Concern,

Thank you very much for your form rejection letter with regards to my interest in travel writing. However, I have received too many rejection letters to accept them all at this given time and, subsequently, will not be able accept yours. Inasmuch, I will start writing for you immediately, and I hope that this is not too much of a bother.

Thank you very much, and I hope my rejection of your rejection will be mutually beneficial.

Your colleague,
Noah Wheelock

A few days later I got a personal reply from a publishing administrator from Lonely Planet and have since been in direct contact with two others, one of whom has asked me for my resume, in order to shop around to other publishers. I have been told the chances are slim to none, but you never know...

Special Bulletin: You're In Trouble -

I have received a few complaints from various readers, berating me for not following up on whatever became of the Brown Pee Incident (June 9th entry). Personally, I figured this was a subject better left untouched, but to you Pandoras out there wondering, it was simply a dietary reaction and all is well. And my new third leg is coming in particularly handy on hiking expeditions.