A letter from La Paz

We descended into the huge crater in the earth that is the location of this metropolis. The sun glinted on the roofs and windows of basic houses hanging off the cliff sides of the huge bowl but we couldn’t take our eyes of the road. Traffic chaos to the untrained eye seems to get everyone from A to B with minimal rage, you are allowed to merge and change lanes while several vehicles are within touching distance. Smiles and comments in Spanish encourage us through the maze and eventually with a sore clutch hand and hill starts that you fear will fail, we are at the hotel. Guards rush out and clear the roadside stalls and merchants so we can park on the street to unload. The street we are on (Calle Illampu) is a mass of bodies walking and shopping for the carnival dress-ups all moving with cars and vans like a crazy dance ,,,, a hundred metre walk is exhausting.

We have a day off so Gareth and I decide to motorbike “The Most Dangerous Road”. You can see the photos here. The others were doing it on a bicycle as we had 8 years ago on our first visit here.” Probably will take a few hours” said Gareth, with a knowing look as we had our fried egg breakfast. So at 9am we hit the road on the BMW 800 bikes minus the panniers, we zap up to 4670 m and then drop the height of Mt Cook mainly along the narrow goat track that has buses and trucks both ways and and at least a 500m drop off, but somewhere along the way we must have missed an obscure turn off and we continued into the Amazon. The GPS didn’t work and eventually told us to get back to La Paz was a 2000km + trip via Argentina. Locals at a tiny village sold me some bananas and pointed both ways when we asked the way out. Two and a half hours took us 40 km and to a village on the map, Tough roads and coco leaf plantations plus two buses jammed on a bridge, mud, rivers and rocks left us exhausted. 12 hours later we were back at our hotel. Too exhausted to do anything and the streets too busy to manouvre the bikes  to the parking lot we just rode into the lovely lobby. The bikes caked in dry mud looking like a bizzare art form. Welcome back Mr Gareth the concierge said

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