niedziela, 01 kwietnia 2007
In the morning we are going from La Paz to La Cumbre situated at 4725 m above sea level. Here, we get on the bikes and go down the road which is proudly called by the Bolivians the most dangerous road in the world or simply THE DEATH ROAD. 200–300 people die here annually! The first part of the road is made of asphalt, later there’s only mud, bends, rocks and precipices. Oh, yes... there is also a toll, because gringo cannot even die for free in Bolivia!
The descent is about 70 km long and has its end at 1200 m above sea level, so we are 3525 m lower than in the morning! In case I end up falling down the precipice, I leave my camera in a car for the pictures to be saved... therefore I make just several stopovers on my way. There are no fenders attached to the bikes so I’m literally all in the mud at the bottom of the hill! We are in a hurry for a bus so I wash quickly my face not to scare the people. On our way we eat dinner in a car – chicken with bananas, quite tasty.
We are rushing headlong and reach the place where the bus is supposed to arrive but it looks like we are late... but no, it’s the bus that is late... we open Pisco de Coca to kill time, there is four of us, Carol and Mauricio, that’s six persons altogether, half a litre for six of us, that’s nothing, wouldn’t you agree? Nothing! But here in America mathematics looks a little bit different so we’re totally sober whereas you cannot tell the same about our Bolivian friends. But it’s to our advantage, after each glass downed, Mauricio speaks English even better! It’s really nice!
In the meantime, Mauricio teaches me Spanish and together with Carol writes for me a mini dictionary of Quechua and Aymara:
What’s your name?
Where do you come from?
How are you?
See you tomorrow
How old are you?
Maskha watayoj kanki?
Finally the bus arrives so we bid farewell to our Bolivian friends and set off farther to Rurrenabaque. It will take us 20 hours to cover these 350 km! The word “road” here is a little bit out of place! At the beginning it’s even funny, we are tossed in all directions but this “road” cannot look like that for all the time... Unfortunately it can, I couldn’t even take a nap for 20 hours being thrown in the air up to 40 cm every now and then! When I was sitting I was at risk of hitting my head, while lying, I could bruise my kidneys on the next pothole. God, how long more...
As you can see, the „road” has got only one lane and there is no hard shoulder, just precipice straight away. When a car approaches from the opposite, the bus manoeuvres in a strange way to let it through... We are sitting at the back, so from time to time we lean out of the window and get to know that all the rear part of the bus hangs over the sheer drop. It’s enough for the driver to miscalculate the distance and it’s more than obvious that the back wheels will slide down the precipice; the question is whether it ends at this stage or not...
We have got two breaks (no, the driver didn’t take pity on us!), the first one, after about one hour, maybe two, due to the head-on collision with Toyota :). It’s nothing big when it comes to the death road. After another hour of our journey we stop to pull a man who, we don’t know exactly how, turned up at the bottom of the precipice. But to be honest, I don’t give a damn that this road is dangerous, the one thing that makes my life miserable is the fact that it’s so tiresome! We are going back by plane, it’s beyond the question!