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Current location: Coroico, Bolivia

07.24.07

Price of beer in a bar: It’s a resort town, so US$2 for 20 ounces
Song currently stuck in my head: Welcome to the Jungle (Guns and Roses)

I spent yesterday desecrating the memory of 10s of thousands of
deceased Bolivians by using the scene of their demise for cheap
thrills and a little adrenaline.  But then, with tourism you’ll have
that.

I’m speaking, of course, of the infamous “Death Road” in Bolivia, a
title approved by the Inter-American Development Bank and well earned.
Attached is a photo, though in it you don’t have any fog or rain so
it doesn’t really look that bad.  This road has been a popular trail
for mountain bikers for years and just a few months ago an alternate
highway was completed and opened (thanks to US funds, I’m told), but
some motor traffic continues to use this dirt highway surrounded on
each side be shear cliff.

Pictures:

http://blogs.bootsnall.com/monirz/archives/images/yeah3_edited.jpg
http://www.jordibusque.com/Index/Stories/YungasRoad/DSK00030-DSC_0011.jpg

Sarah and I biked it.  It was fun.  60some kilometers, 90% of which is
downhill.  There were points where the cliff wasn’t satisfied to hug
the roadside and instead carved right into the road in front of you.
There were chickens, children with slingshots, waterfalls, loose rock,
loose dirt, buses, heat and freezing cold (we descended 3000 feet, so
the temperature change was significant).  It was, at times, scary.
But I can say with authority, and I”m serious about this: The “World’s
Most Deadly Road” hasn’t got shit on the Chicago Lake Path.  Because
while I made it through yesterday relatively unscathed, I defy you to
travel 60km on the lake path and not get hurt.  At the very least
you’ll come perilously close to hitting two Lincoln Park princesses
pushing their baby strollers two abreast blocking one entire direction
of the bike lane and half of the other, blissfully unaware that they
aren’t wandering through the park.

Sarah and I have contracted about 2 weeks of activity with local
tour agency (the same one I booked Choro through about a month ago).
Yesterday’s downhill dirt storm was day one, and today we board a 15
bus to the jungle.  We’re in the lowlands already and I love it.  It
reminds me why I love Central America and gives me the chance to
compare South America on a more balanced scale.  We’re doing 4 days
stalking wildlife in the jungle, then back to La Paz and on to the
freezing cold of The Salar (massive slat flats) in the South.  After
that we’ll head on to Argentina and spend our remaining month in and
around the sit-tay.

Not mentioned in today’s email for purposes of brevity:  nationwide,
highway closing strikes in Bolivia and Peru, a return to Copacabana,
the Island of the Sun, more third world pharmacy zaniness, and a
conspicuous and consistent lack of cheap liquor.

Take care everyone.

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