Day 33 4/11/09
That morning we headed for La Paz on a very local bus. Ahead of us we had Bolivia's equivalent of a Chav family. The trip involved a child pissing out of a window which landed on Ian's arm and also the occasional tossing out of soled nappies. To be honest I was quite glad that I still was not eating properly and thus managed to sleep through the vast majority of the trip!
La Paz itself is enormous sprawling out amongst the mountains. We arrived quite late so the plan was to get settled in the hotel before Dario's meeting and dinner. It was instantly recognisable that 4km up we were in the highest capital in the world. Climbing up to the 4th floor for our room was exhausting to say the very least. The air was so thin that it was impossible to take a deep enough breathe to get the air required to make it easy. The restaurant we went to that evening, located along one of La Paz's back streets was phenomenal. It was filled with an abundance of antiques and after a couple of days of my stomach rejecting food it was fantastic to finally eat something that not only tasted incredible but also remained inside for digestion.
Day 34 5/11/09
That morning a group of us; Rob, Ian, Dave, Chris (g+b), Gavin and I all booked the Death Run for the day after.
The majority of the day was spent exploring La Paz. Perhaps the most galling sites in La Paz were of the preserved Llama fetuses which got buried under thresholds for good luck. La Paz's central square was very similar to all others in South America, framed by an ornate Cathedral and grandiose colonial buildings.
After our brief tour we all went for curry! 1st curry in months, fantastic. Jim tried half of their Vindaloo challenge yet even this beat him. To be honest the Star of India La Paz had perhaps the hottest curry I had ever tasted. IT also had perhaps the best Mango milkshake ever.
That afternoon we relaxed and did some admin postcards journals etc.
For dinner we went to an Indian Thai restaurant run by a former tour leader. Thai Green Seafood Curry was quality.
Day 35 6/11/09 THE DEATH ROAD
Our group awoke early and after a brief introduction to Roland our new tour guide and a slight delay we got on our tour bus and headed to the start of the world’s most deadly road. Considering I have (or now had) bad vertigo so as our bus climbed higher and higher my trepidation grew. However, with no turning back my resolve soon mounted and I was ready for the day ahead.
We stopped by a small lake at the peak of a mountain looking down onto the tarmacked part of the road. Here we had a small breakfast before gearing up fully for the ride. Pro Downhill provided excellent protective equipment, arm and leg guards, tough helmets and skid poof trousers and jackets.
The first part of the ride was incredible. As our confidence grew we began pushing our pikes to their speed limits. Speed controlled by body positions, at points my chest was pressed had onto the handle bars to get the required slip stream to overtake some of the others.
We paused momentarily for the anti-drug checkpoint and our next pause was the start of the infamous unpaved 65km section of the road that earned it its name. Have we got back on the bus to take us to the peak for our 65km descent.
My first view over the edge gave an undeserved sense of comfort for we were above the level of cloud cover so the base was not even slightly visible.
Our descent was fast over the unrefined track, increasingly so as our confidence improved. I hung just off the fastest pack as t keep up I would have had to focus entirely on the road and my bike. A slight decrease in speed allowed me to appreciate the views which were breathtaking. Waterfalls flowed down onto the road. Once we had descended through the clouds the rainforest canopy appeared 3km below the road. Around this point is where Ian, the best and most experienced of us had is accident. He had taken one corner too fast which meant at the next he flew over his handle bars and into the ditch that lined the mountain side. Had this occurred the other way around Ian would have gone over the edge. There have been only two fatalities on the road this year.
My most nervous moment was on a wider faster point where as I approached the corner my tyre burst and fish tailed. Fortunately my breaks were goof and the width of the road allowed for a certain margin of error. Apart from a couple more punctures (the most ever for our particular guide) the rest of the ride went off without injury. We all loved the experience and were buzzing at the end.
We arrived back late to La Paz and went to the Hard Rock Cafe. Our food was late and the experience was not great.
Day 36 7/11/09
Today we left especially early to head for Peru. We had to leave early as a bike race was being held on the road to Lake Titicaca. Our first step along the way was Copacabana. The highlight of this small town was that at its central Cathedral there were two parrots on its gates that spoke Spanish and produced fantastic wolf whistles.
From Coco cabana we went to Puno in Peru. We arrived quite late so I phoned home. Then we headed to La Carsona just off the main square for dinner. I had Alpaca a la Carsona, which was incredible, alpaca meat is brilliant.