Tuesday, 18 November 2008

La Paz and Coroicco (via the worlds most dangerous road on mountain bikes)

We arrived in the capital La Paz after our first overnight Bolivian bus experience which in all fairness was not that bad. As anyone who's been here may agree it's like someone found a huge valley between giant mountains and dropped a city into it. The first thing we wanted to find out after arrival was whether we could find a cinema that was screening the new 007 film in english (we're only happy to immerse ourselves into this travelling so far!)! Once we'd satisfied our Bond hunger (together with two buckets of ice cream) we were able to start wandering around the city taking in the various thousands of market stalls, the presidential palace and also a visit to the coca museum. We also walked passed the city (San Pedro) prison where some braver travellers pay fixers for the priviledge of an illegal guided tour, apparently it's got shops and restaurants and the richest inmate enjoys a three storey cell along with flatscreen tv's in each room! We were too concerned that we may accidentally get left in there, although it doesn't sound all that bad!

After a couple of days walking the city, we left early one morning to go on 'the worlds most dangerous road' mountain bike tour (thankyou Emily and Dave!). A minibus took us up to La Cumbre, a mountain pass at 4700 metres above sea level and we all disembarked to be presented with the mountain bikes that were going to be responsible for carrying us 64km down to an altitude of 1100mabsl! After a short safety briefing, we had to pour a drop of alcohol onto the front wheel of our bikes before taking a swig ourselves as a prayer to Pachamama for a safe passage. Then we set off. The first 20km was on tarmac road and fairly straightforward although we hadn't realised that whilst most of this was steep downhill, there was 8km of uphill at 3500mabsl (ie very little oxygen!). Needless to say Jo overtook Al at this point. We then reached the turn off for the 44km of the worlds most dangerous road proper, basically a gravel track around 3 metres wide chiselled into the cliff egde with no barriers and sheer drops of 1000m waiting to eat you if you get it all wrong! (Needless to say Al overtook Jo at this point!)
Both of us made it to the bottom unscathed and able to enjoy a cold beer at an animal sanctuary. We then took a taxi with a few of the people we'd met on the bikes to the town of Coroicco. Here we stayed at Sol y Luna a pretty retreat amongst the trees of the cloud forest. It was amazing to suddenly be somewhere so green and humid after weeks at altitude. Unfortunately the downside of this is the amount of bugs and, despite using our mosquito net for the first time, Jo had a rude awakening at 2am to find a two inch long caterpillar crawling in her hair.. argh! We also had to share our outdoor shower and toilet with a frog and spider (Jo got particularly friendly with these due to an onset of Bolivia Belly!). Not sure how we will survive in the amazon proper! The views from our little garden outside the room and learning card games from Damien and Charmain (who we met on the bike ride) made it all worthwhile...

Now we are back in La Paz briefly before heading to Copacabana and Lake Titicaca.

Keep in touch

Jo and Al xxxx

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm seriously thinking to stop reading your blog because it makes me all weak and makes us want to quit our day job and hop on to the next plane back to south america.

have fun you guys!