Category: Other stuff
Date: 04 January 2004
We bring you glad tidings from Potosi in central Bolivia.
Below you can see a link to some photos(actually you can't: editor) that were taken on our bike ride down the "Most Dangerous Road in the World" - a 2000 metre descent from a freezing 4700m down through hairpins, waterfalls, cloud forest, rivers and centimetres from 1000m drops, to Coroico (where we splashed out on nice hotel with amazing tropical views and circling condors). I (Dan) have had to buy new pants!!! Photos make it look like a Famous Five ginger beer outing, but it has to be the most dangerous thing we've done since handing in our resignations and consigning ourselves to impending poverty. Apologies for the number of photos but for brief overview click to nos 135, 138, 140, 92, 41, 16, 19 (numbers picked at random but should include us). Me and Zoe were among the slowest down (okay, the slowest) but just about came out unscathed (1 fall for DT).
After our buttocks had recovered sufficiently, we "enjoyed" a 22 hour bus ride (through land and mudslides) to wake up in the jungle town of Rurrenabaque - where we spent Xmas (Santa-less), and hung up the mozzie net instead of our stockings. Zoe´s christmas present was a dose of Bolivia-belly, so she spent the big day under the mozzy net. Dan somehow managed to have a chilled ale or 2 with some amigos, while Zoe cocktailed on pepto bismol and rehydration drinks.
Recovered just in time for a pampas tour (tropical savannah). We spent 3 days winding down the river Yucama spotting alligators, different types of monkey, capibaras (look it up! Like giant guinea pigs, anyway), amazing birdlife, and pink fresh water dolphins. Day 2 included a 4 hour horse trek (OW!!) looking for anacondas (spotted a small one - 2 metres!). Zoe managed to fall off into the swamp (view from zoe is it was a "controlled dismount") and soak herself. Zoe´s horse to be fair was a "steptoe and son" cast off. Can safely say it will be our last ever time on horse-back!
Did remarkably well on the mosquito front - Zoe won with about 15 bites to Dan´s 25. Some people were less fortunate and returned with (reputedly, not verified) 250 bites. Our group of 8 was a good laugh and included our friends Nick and Laura (latterly of West Norwood, strangely enough, but bound for a new life in Oz), who we´ve been travelling with on and off for about a month - either they can´t get rid of us or vice versa, we´re not sure which. Bizarrely we managed to translate the guide´s Spanish, i.e. "vamos", "alligator" (accompanied by pointing). Worst part of the trip was the toilet at the camp, which consisted of a cardboard box placed over a large hole. Not the best place to be recovering from an upset stomach. Dan managed to refrain from "going" for three days, lucky thing. How very British.
Had an amazing plane journey back to La Paz, taking off from a grass run -way (which had been under water for the previous three days due to heavy rains) in a 12 seater plane. Not as scary as we had anticipated. La Paz airport is at over 4000m - so no descent at all! The plane had no air pressure in the cabin so the pilot asked us if we wanted any oxygen (politely declined by all but a stiff drink would have helped). It was an amazing contrast to fly over deep jungle and then literally through the snow-capped mountains. Managed to land just before 8pm on news years eve - just in time for an outing to a mediocre bar - hey, just like at home! Managed to have a tiff at 5 mins past 12 - so hey, just like at home (all Dan´s/Zoe´s fault - delete as appropriate).
La Paz is great and pretty full on - managed to eat really well (even at the fantastically named Jackie Chan's chinese restaurant!) and the veggie diet still holds. (weren´t tempted to eat piranha in the Jungle). Lots of dried llama foetuses on sale in the huge local markets as lucky charms (any birthdays coming up?). Felt and bowler hats for women also very much in vogue.
Yesterday we got our ruins fix with a trip to Tiahuanaco - a stunning pre-Colombian site about 70km from La Paz. Its centrepiece is a semi-subterranean temple lined with hundreds of carved stone heads - amazing.
So, a night bus journey later and we´re in Potosi, which we´ll tell you about later. Potosi grew rich on silver and it´s an interesting place. We´ve managed to meet up with our favourite ever Belgian (we even prefer him to Poirot), who we met in Rurrenabaque, who lives and works here, so we´ll hopefully visit a few local bars for local people with him later on tonight.