World's Most Dangerous Road

Hello Friends!
So when we last left you, we were gearing up to take an epic bike ride down death road. As you can surmise, we did survive the expedition. We started the expedition on what is now referred to as the "new road", near the top of the mountain pass. The section was paved, but probably slightly more dangerous as you could pick up significant speed, had to dodge the occasional pot hole and car, and were easily distracted by the absolutely beautiful scenery.
Majestic, rugged and snow cap peaks surrounded us as we raced down into the valley below. We passed a "narco check point" and luckily my record did not follow me to Bolivia. Coca leaf cultivation, which is an ancient practice, was made legal by the newly elected president, Evo Moerales(first indigenous president in Bolivia) about ten years ago, but people still smuggle in chemicals necessary for cocaine production into the valley, and produce the stuff in "cocaine shacks", as our guide referred to them.
After racing down the paved road, we made our way for the death road, or also known as the world's most dangerous road.

The name of the road actually predates its completion. It was constructed in the 1930s and 40s by Paraguayan prisoners of war(Bolivia was at war at the time with Paraguay and ultimately lost). Given the nature of the work - carving out the road with dynamite through 100 meter cliffs, along with the relative disregard for safety standards and generally speaking the lives of the prisoners - thousands are thought to have perished in its construction.
We started off down the road around mid-day, with the sun starting the warm us slightly. Our guide instructed us that we would be fine as a long as we don't "be a fucking idiot".
The road, which is somewhat constraining for a bike, was murderous for two way car traffic. It acted as the only artery out of La Paz to the North of the country and thus was heavily trafficked until the completion of the new road around 2008. Given the tight bends, jagged road, and 100 meter drop offs leaving little room for error, the road claimed roughly 300-500 lives annually.
Riding down it in a bike was not so dangerous. We seldom saw any cars, and as long as you went at a reasonable pace and had any sense how to ride a bike, while stressful at the times the ride was generally safe. Of the tens of thousands of tourists who ride down the road each year, there is usually only 1 or 2 fatalities(mostly due to people flying over the edge) and the majority of the serious injuries actually occur on the paved road.
But then, there was Carol.
An odd duck. Traveling alone. I would put her in her early 50s. She had an accent I could not quite place, but I would guess from somewhere in the British Isles. I'm guessing Carol probably had not ridden a bike in over a decade, and she was not the most quick witted. After stopping briefly to regroup, I saw her put her helmet on backwards...
After we arrived at our next stopping point, we were waiting for Carol when a message came through to our lead guide that Carol had gone over the edge. She was miraculously OK, having landed on a fortuitous out-pouching of rock and vegetation. The other guides were grappling down the cliff to get her.
Roughly 15 minutes later, Carol came riding down the hill, still on her bike, with a scratch on her nose and shit eating grin on her face. She then continued the rest of the ride down on the bike, seeming to be at instance peace with her near death experience.
We continued our decent, dropping over 3000s meters into the valley below. We ended our tour deep in the valley, in an animal refuge for animals rescued from the illegal black market trade. There were monkeys, turtles and of course, the Capybara Rodent.

We ate lunch, showered, and headed back over the pass on the new road, arriving safe and sound back at our hostel to find the owner celebrating his birthday, and absolutely hammered. Next up, Lake Titikaka!

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. What an amazing adventure! I'm glad that you've made it safely and poor Carol, of course!

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  3. Waaah, you're so cool! Sounds amazing, and Carol must be the luckiest person in the world hahah

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  4. Get your shit together Carol!

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