Bolivia Amazon

La Paz become my other home, this was made possible by Raul and Linda Zarate.Raul ask me to add another day so I can be in the barbeque part for a friend fare well, the following day with Caleb they accompany me to climb to the cumber (4600m).  With their enthusiasms, kind and warmness they made my La Paz stay to be one of the Bolivia highlights.

We left the beauty La Paz in its  valleys, as we approach the peak of the high pass the weather start to change, fog cover all the wonderful glaciers peaks and entire landscape. It start to get cold, we hug and promise to see each soon or later. When I start to descend the steep and dangerous road the ice cold start to pour, I put on enough layers but the cold rain penetrate and due to slow speed the cold start to burn face and fingers.  All the time of descend in the paved road I was concerned by traffic on the narrow, slippery and fog road, here it when it start to become ‘The death road’ as local call it ‘La ruta de la muerte’. 40 km downhill I had to turn right to another 40km downhill of deadly road which is real ‘death road’.

La ruta de la muerte…

I had no idea about this road before till in Uyuni the southern part of Bolivia, I was charting with a local guy when I mentioned my planed route, he asked to your going through death road. I was surprised by the name but there are several places here named after devil, demons and saints when he explained about this road I start to feel like it might be dangerous though I have lent that in this way of getting information you never relay on one source of info or one person. The info didn’t change much but get sort of exaggerations in the street of La Paz when you see these MTB with sigh saying ‘Cycle the death route tomorrow’.   Apparently the road it one of major tourist activity in La Paz, not sure how may ever lost their life there but the tour company they make them sign the weaver that they are doing it for their risk! In the one crowded hostel I bump into the guy walk with polls, he crush in the death road, swim In the gravel loose huge part of flesh on his leg. Most of the stories are close to death though most make it though. I was at the turn in 3pm, it still rain but with less fog, at this moment I was looking down to 40km of the most dangerous road in the world. It still quite high though the vegetations start to change to tropic, it is lush green, fresh air, flower sent, surrounded by birds calling; it have been a while since I have been in such environment. Before I start going down two tourist min van passed me, loaded with bike in the roof, the tourists they just give me question mark state, I guess they couldn’t make it up such quick; ‘the guy on the loaded bike, such late, solo going down to death road’ . As I start to roll down everything change, it was like interning in the different world, the jungle intensifies and it was me with the jungle. The road start with loose rocks, sharp descend and corners, the track is narrow with rock cliff on the right and the other drop down on the left to when you can barely see. In this kind of road you can’t go fast neither slow here I remember the tour guide from La Paz who told me in this case he had to put some tourists in the van because they go too slow! The rain is still pouring, water drop from the cliff some time put you in between that narrow pass called road. I also made my almost death story, it was in the corner when the tourists van come uphill since the driving side change in this kind of roads I was in the left side which is more dangerous, I slam on over heart and wet breaks they didn’t work like normal and I happen to end up in the edge of long cliff.  There are several long cliff one it 6 000m down, when accident happen in these cliff they don’t bother to go down to fetch anything. From entrance of the death road you are started to be greeted by signs of crosses as memory of those who lost their life here this go for almost first half of the road. The death road it can be real death road mostly for inexperienced bikers, now in this road there is no much traffic because there is new paved road which they don’t let bikes go through cause of the tunnels.

Yolosa it small town at the junction to the new road and others I camped few km out of town. In this part of Bolivia sub tropical it where you can find Afro-Bolivia population, it a small population and it have been mixed a lot but they still carry their African futures. Due to their skin color they are known as Moreno which supposes to mean brown or so. Pass through this are I could see lots of smiling faces with little disbelieve. In the next morning I had second breakfast with Moreno family; at first they assume I was also Moreno from Bolivia but due to my Spanish accent they say I guess I was Brazilian. When I say I’m Africa they couldn’t believe, apparently they don’t have any clue about the continent, the young knows famous football players and that is. The Moreno were salves who brought to work in the coca plantations which were used as a payment during the colonial manning era of Potos. Bolivia didn’t take lost of black slavers cause they couldn’t work in the highlands manning.    

From Yolasa which pitch in about 1000m the road gravel road (still under construction) start with small climb then pass through the cliff  In the mid day the road descend into river, I cycle alongside the river in the narrow road cut through dense jungle. There are several small villages and single houses pitch in the middle of jungle, the area looks fertile but I wonder the effort it will take to declare part of forest to start farming. There lots of coca plantations though it had to see them, in house front I pass some dried by sun. Though these farmers make very little cash but it ease farming which doesn’t need lot of time to take care of it.

In the evening I arrive Carranav 522m, this place was real hot and humid, it remind me cycling in the East Africa coast.  From Caranav the road is pretty much climb, after lot of climb in southern part I don’t have much problem but this is climb of hot day which make sweat a lot. The road is still under construction and they tend to close it for almost half a day. Now there are less villages few traffic most it timber trucks. In the small villages there are ramous of robbers in the jungle but thanks after two days of wild camp I reached Rurranabalque.

Rurranabalque it lie in the River Ben (not sure of the name), it small touristic town, 45 minutes from La Paz tourist can access the Amazon- Bolivia and sub-tropical weather.

Happiness exists when it shared…

In Rurranabalque I meet two cyclists Nelson from Portugal, 3 years on the road Canada- Ushuaia, now on the way back to Peru then may be sail down to Brazil by Amazon. Hugo from Belgium on short our. I team up with Nelson for couple of day, he looks real worn out by road but still strong. He has developed touring patience, quite a slow pace compare to mine. After cycling alone for a while it was good to meet Nelson. In small town called Santa Rosa we were approached with a guy who asked as if we would like to be interviewed by their local Tv channel, we agreed for interview which we never saw cause there would no be news for 2 days during the weekend but we benefit for free camping ground, shower and free entrance to fun Bolivian singing Mexican music. He is great cookers, it take long than normal to make breakfast then lunch and diners all this time he will be telling me his stories from the road.

I had to leave Nelson in mosquito juggle hit a ride for 100km to Riberalta and cycle to Guaya Marin as my visa was in the end. Arrived at Guaya Marin in the evening couple of folks on the motor bike (this is main transport in this region) they ride along for a chart, apparently they knew my name and so on, I come to find out later the article from news paper in La Paz arrived here before me. I had no problem immigration at all, I was real worried but instead of being finned I was welcomed to stay long if I wish. Of cause I wish but cant cycle back. The immigration guys had news paper also and they were happy to meet so I end up charting and having drinks with offices!

Before dark I took a small boat across the river to Brazil, things start to change in the boat; people start to talk to me in Portuguese. At first I thought it another kind of castillano because I could make up what they mean but soon I realize I’m already in Brazil and language change. After scanned my bags and being told that cake leaves are illegal so I have to leave the little one I was carrying for tea but not coke infusion. I had to find Federal Police down town Guajara Mirin (just different spellings with other town in Bolivia side). I was given only 6 days with Brazilian councilor in La Paz due to my amount of money I show at first; here I find the friendliest immigration office or Policia Federal as called here. We talked a lot though communication wasn’t such good.  He said the 6 days may be are not even enough to travel by river to Manaus so he end up giving me 30 days. He also recommends applying for Rio sustainable development conference in June due to the relation with my project.

 The officer helped to call my friend Jack to come and peak me, I meet Jack in Bolivia on his way to visit his cousin working with missionary here. He have been working as humanitarian in Congo, married Congolese, speak bit of Swahili-lingala. His cousin hosts me, here I fixed the bike, and find out that the change is almost out of order but can go for sometime may be to Manaus. I had to add another day after the pledge from student who studies linguistic, Brazilian music and relation of Buntu. I’ll have to help here with my general knowledge about Bantu.

From here the next stop it Manaus the center of Brazial- Amazon, the part of the road which is possible to travel so far is 340km the rest about 700km of jungle it still has patches of rain which make it impassable also as always the people from town they will tell you ‘there is plenty of robbers in the juggle’. 

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4 Comments

  1. Posted May 2, 2012 at 7:45 am by Jan | Permalink

    For the people who don’t know what Elvis did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXLxszv9eCM

    Elvis, you made my day with your blog and you made me jealous passing that road before I had the chance to do so.

    You rock, buddy!!

    • Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm by Elvis | Permalink

      Mzee Kipara!
      Asante bwana… you still have chance mzee…it scaring excitement.

  2. Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm by RUTH | Permalink

    hI ELVIS. FINDING YOUR BLOG REALLY INTERESTING AND GAINING USE FUL ADVICE! HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT GETTING TICKETS FOR THE BANANA BOAT IN CHILE? WE WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT. WE ARE ON A RTW TRIP FROM SEPT, GOING TO CENTRAL & STH AMERICA, AUSTRALIA, INDIA AND THAILAND. IF YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE WE WOULD BE GRATEFUL! YOUR TRIP SOUNDS AMAZING, THOUGH TRICKY IN PARTS, AS YOU WOULD EXPECT! eNJOY! fROM R & Q UK

    • Posted June 24, 2012 at 2:28 am by Elvis | Permalink

      Hi Ruth!
      I’m glad the blog is helpful it always good to share what we lent. The ‘banana boat’ was in Amazon Brazil. Which countries are planing to go through in South America? I’ll be happy to advice.

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