Need for Speed & the Pits of Hell

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South America » Bolivia
July 6th 2006
Published: July 7th 2006
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I can´t believe it´s been 3 months since I´ve left Sydney. I feel I´ve already experienced quite a lot, but the best part is there´s more to come.

I´ve also gone a number of weeks without mentioning the premier sporting event in South America, which is of course the World Cup. In between gadding about to different places, I´ve been able to catch a few games in the various pubs in Peru and Bolivia. Hilarious when you hear the commentators yell out - GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL !!!!!! - for at least a minute after someone scores. Pretty bummed about Australia getting knocked out. I was even hoping for an Argentina - Brazil final, as this continent would have gone absolutely nuts.

It´s been interesting travelling with the other girls (Siah, Suzanne, Dan, Hong). The good thing is that everyone has pretty much done their own thing, and there´s only been 4 nights where the 5 of us have been in the same place.

The girls are totally obsessed with food and on a mission to find the best street food and cakes, which I´m more than happy to indulge in so long as my stomach can hack the pace. So far Bolivia hasn´t lived up to the high standard of fabbo cakes and pastries set by Peru. However, one can´t go past the yummy empanadas in Bolivia.

La Paz is a buzzing place, with a real Asian vibe and smell to it. All the streets rise uphill from El Prado (main drag) just like a gigantic bowl. Reminds me a lot of Hong Kong. Have spent my time walking around, particularly in the markets (great for fruit) and Artesans Alley which also has the Witches´Market. All sorts of weird talismans and amulets for sale such as dried llama foetuses, which are used to protect a dwelling from evil spirits. It sent a little chill down my spine as a lot of things are unexplainable and seem to deal with human desires. For example, you can have an ´ekeki´ doll with your wants (eg. wealth, car, house, etc) blessed by a shaman, which you supposedly will get within the year. Or you could put a hex on an obnoxious traveller or dodgy operator. Spooky hocus-pocus stuff. I think I´ll stick with my mum´s prayers.

On the 2nd July there was a referendum for the constitution in Bolivia. Basically the whole country shut down, with no transport or tours. Just people wandering around and playing football in the streets.

Also went mountain-biking down the "World´s Most Dangerous Road", which consisted of a 3600m descent from La Cumbre (4700m) to Coroico (1100m). I don´t think I´ve ever been so petrified what with the sheer 1000 foot drops, and all manner of trucks and buses screaming past. Talk about blazing saddles - my backside is still tender.

Last stop was Potosi, and a visit to a mine at Cerro Rico. There are over 12,000 miners working in the mountain, and each miner works for themselves in a small co-operative group where they share the profits. The end product is a mixture of silver, lead and zinc. Went to the Miners´market to buy some gifts for the miners such as coca leaves, soft drinks and dynamite. Anyone, even kids, can buy dynamite in Bolivia for 17Bs (about A$3). Bought some extra to end the tour with a blast. The mine was a real labyrinth, extremely dusty & hot, and also difficult to breathe given the confined spaces and high altitude (4600m). The miners pray to the Devil (lord of the underground) or "El Tio", and also offer real llama sacrifices to ensure good quantity, quality and safety. It was a real eye-opener.

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


Big bangBig bang
Big bang

Bomb ingredients - dynamite, fuse, detonator, and ammonium nitrate
Home-made bombHome-made bomb
Home-made bomb

With fuse lit, taken 1 minute before blast-off

8th July 2006

really enjoying your blog! very inspiring and looks like you're really getting the most out of the solo travelling thing! Go Girl! Vv
12th July 2006

Hey man, the photos are spectacular... Those sheer drops are awesome. Take care. Densy
23rd July 2006

GUS!!!!! You are so wicked. -----> Andrew (thetouringtexan)
6th February 2007

The pictures
¿Can you send me the pictures of the travel across the Yungas in a high resolution? IT´S VERY IMPORTANT TO ME, THANKS

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