The most dangerous road in the world was on the agenda for outside La Paz Bolivia. The moniker is now quite out of date because a new road has been built that involves widths more than 10′ and guard rails. But this edition lives on in the form of breathless T-shirts for tourists boasting of their survival.
The group was my usual travel buddies from the past few weeks Hugo and Michael. There was another guy in the mix possibility but he pulled the plug after seeing some photos. He generated some good quotes in the process of jamming out:
[30 minutes before closing time the night before, we are just booking the tour.]
Guys… this is way too expensive. 480 Bolivianos??
[$50 Cdn for the honour of having bikes that don’t break and sober guides unlike the mining trip.]
Hugo!! Tell her no way, we gotta take our business elsewhere, [despite that the tour leaves in under 12 hours, and we already having a completely competitive price.] If I don’t save this $3 Cdn I am goin to lose it! Tell her Hugo, tell her it in Spanish, TELL HER NOW!
The lady was sitting 2′ in front of him while he was bellowing about petty pricing differentials.
Guys… seriously. Where are the railings?? This is not cool. Not cool!! Yah, I am not going on this thing after all if there are no railings.
The road itself, our part, is about 60 km long. The elevation is 4600 meters at the high point and we descended to 1200 meters by the end of it. The first part was paved which meant we got to pass the buses for once which turned the tables on those South American bus drivers. Some of the buses in the past have wound up on the wrong side of the 600 meter drop off, so the tend to take it easier than usual still it seems. Also, the paved section is a good place to get the requisite ‘no-hands’ shot that is important too.
After, on the main dirt part, it was a lot of hanging on.
Corners like this made me glad we didn’t demand to save 10 Bolivianos, all the the expense of brakes most likely. Braking like Fred Flinstone on corners like this would be a poor idea it seems.
We tried to get the standard team photo too. It seemed relevant because everyone’s brakes worked. Afterwards we went swimming and drank some beer. Again, this forms a critical distinction with the mining tour insomuch as the drinking was confined to afterwards… rather than during.
The boarders were closed between Peru and Bolivia, so it made for a long route west because we had to come through Chile again. The boarder guards almost popped my soccer ball. It did not bounce, making is suspicious. Well, I would guess cheap before suspicious, but once they deemed that it was not a narco ball, it was clear sailing. It was another 18 hour travel day based on three buses and an old cop car turned taxi cab that tried to lug us across the boarder. The bus rarely stops, so the agenda called for a lot of poket bread to come on the trip. The is probably a more sophisticated was to binng food than wedging break in ones pocket, but it is working well so far.
At Puno my group is officially gone different directions, so it is back to being solo, with its pros and cons. Upon getting to Puno, Peru, a lot of the banks had smashed windows from the riots. Not ‘Nucks related, but Canucks related. A Canadian mining outfit called Bear Creek was planning on setting up a silver mine near Lake Titicaca and the locals were very unimpressed. The result was boarder closings, road closings and a gringo shortage here for the time being. Ironically, my buddies the Scotiabank are big down here. They have a huge branch here, so Canadian imperialism is alive and well. Less ABM fees for me is all that it means. The irony is that the bank that has ‘Imperial’ in its name is not doing well in the developing world, useless CIBC.
Tomorrow is the trip onto the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. I am doing a home stay with a family which will be fun. They speak the indigenous language, Quechua, almost exclusively, so I am back to pointing and grunting. Little different from usual. But I am traveling with an Englsh girl, Liz, from the hostel so I suppose some English speaking will be on the agenda. Being de-languaged may be good practice if the stories are true – this is where my buddies Kang and Kodos hang out a lot supposedly.
How to remain undefeated all time at foosball!
01. Be an 18 year old English girl
02. Drink excess amounts of rum
03. Brag, incessantly, that you are the best ever with an unblemished record
04. Promise to vanquish all challengers in a non-ironic declaration
05. Play a team game. Three girls vs myself and an Irish guy
06. Make a rum wager when leading 7-3
07. Lose 8-10
08. Renege on wager, make another one with a Peruvian girl for $5
09. Get demolished by Peruvian girl
10. Freak out
11. Drink more, imply that the Peruvian girl is just mean
12. Tell nonsensical mafia stories
13. Stage a botched theft of the hostel booze
14. Now you are still in possession of a perfect foosball record! I don’t quite follow the logic, but I accept it on faith that it is correct.