Well we caught our flight to La Paz on Thursday. In the taxi on the way to Tarija airport I noticed that there were lots of women digging up a walkway - the Bolivian attitude is to give more a people a job even if it is far too many people working in one place! We also past a very long queue for petrol and the taxi driver told us that this was due to the road blocks. He said "it´s crazy like our president!"
We arrived in La paz at lunchtime, checked into The Adventure Brewery Hostel again and then went for a nice BLT at Olivers Travels.
Yesterday we did a bike ride on the World´s Most Dangerous Road (WMDR). At 7.45am we got driven about an hour out of La Paz to high up in the snow capped Andes at an oxygen-starved 4700m above sea level (over half the height of Everest!!). At the town of La Cumbre, next to a gorgeous lake, we poured 96% neat alcohol over the tyres of our bikes and had a sip ourselves to worship Pachamama (Mother Earth) and protect us on our journey. We then started the 64km bike ride.
The first few kilometres are on a downhill tarmac road whih gave us a chance to get used to riding a bike again (can´t remember the last time I did!) and enjoy the stunningly beautiful mountainous scenery whilst fighting the icy cold wind and dodging the big trucks and buses that come whizzing past. After making it safely through the drug checkpoint (largest coca leaf plantation is in this region) we arrived at the World´s Most Dangerous Road also known as Carretera de la Muerte (Road of Death) and more offically the Unduavi - Yolosa Highway. This road, from La Paz to Coroico in the Yungas Region, was built by Paraguayan Prisoners of War back in the 1930´s. Many perished in the effort but now it is mainly Bolivians who die on the road - in their thousands!
In 1995, the Inter American Development bank christened it the most dangerous road in the world base on the macabre ratio of deaths per mile. The windy, bumpy, gravel path which is chiselled out of the mountainside, is only 3m wide in parts, has 600m drops into the jungle and has waterfalls pouring onto it and streams cutting through it. Buses filled with people drive onto it and occasionally plunge over the edge and up to 200 people die on this road each year. In one year alone 25 vehicles went over!
In April this year, a 22yr old British guy died during the bike ride when a Toyota Land Cruiser collided into him, killing him and the eight people in the vehicle and injuring two of his friends. Along the road there are many crosses and stones which mark the places where travellers have lost their lives!
After five hours on the bike I was very glad to get to the sleepy town of Coroico in the hot, humid Amazon rainforest at the bottom were a nice cold beer, hot shower and delicious lunch awaited us at La Senda Verde Refugio Natural (animal refuge). We also got to play with the monkeys which was lovely.
The bus back to La Paz, along the WMDR, was the scariest part as I got the window seat next to the edge - I closed my eyes for most of the way!
Today we fly north to Rurrenabaque to visit the Amazon and hopefully get some heat!!
Lots of love & hugs xxxx