After my two exciting days in the Bolivian highlands I was back on a paved road. Following the illusion that this would remain so until Coroico, I started the day. As always, run out of the city. Oruro this time. On the way out I came across a bus. A few people stood in front of the open luggage doors and unloaded suitcases as well as dead pigs. Apparently it was the dead pig day in Oruro. 20 minutes later I passed a taxi, which was loaded with dead pigs up to the ceiling.
Hitchhiking went quite well, three quick lifts to the police control behind the city, two other hitchhikers overtaken and then a truck stopped, which drove to my next intersection, from where I should continue on small roads. I sat in the truck very satisfied and watched the landscape lost in thought. I have summed up over the last two days and thought about what I would put in the blog article when it suddenly did a huge blow. I was so scared that the truck immediately turns left. My driver has trouble keeping him on track. Left front tire burst. We stop, get out, stare at the broken tire in disbelief. My driver starts talking on the phone, I help him clear the tire parts from the highway and then I keep running. Can still take a while to drive again. Fortunately, the third car stopped and took me to my intersection.
This was followed by a paved road. What relaxation. I saw myself arriving at Death Road around noon and behind La Paz in the evening. Things went well through a few villages, then traffic died. I had an elevator with a truck in the back. The boys suddenly turned: I had to make myself felt quickly so that I didn't go in the wrong direction. I climbed a mountain over several serpentines, sighted a few dogs, asked me what these dogs are eating nowhere and enjoyed the panorama. After 28 minutes of running, a Nissan stopped.
Breathtaking descent into the most beautiful mountains in South America
The driver was a little puzzled. Again I didn't understand a word. Somehow I made it into the car. We drove off. Thought he was going to the next town or something. The road went downhill. I guess we were at 5000+ meters. By the time I exit we should be below 2200. The road was ... I can't say otherwise ... the hammer. It led down to Quime in neatly tarred serpentines. We overtook a couple of buses and at some point this huge, never-ending abyss opened up in front of us, which we climbed bit by bit with the rickety car. This passage was awesome. But I didn't know that the entire Yungas Mountains would still be waiting for me. When I arrived in Quime (the city was not even on my map), we found a small town wonderfully situated on the lake with an Alpine feeling and friendly vegetation. I was delighted at how beautiful it was all of a sudden. We were now in the middle of the Yungas Mountains.
At the end of the village we followed a small dirt road and drove to a gas station. When asked how far we were still on the road, my driver replied: "2 hours more". So bomb lift. What only then became clear to me was that the small gravel path was not a crawl path to the tank, but rather the main road for the next 400km. I already suspected that this route has a catch. And there he was. But we drove in the Yungas and my enthusiasm knew no bounds.
Yungas is a mountain range that stretches from a tropical 500 meters up to the 4000+ meter high plateau to La Paz. There are the Northern Yungas and the Southern Yungas. Both mountain ranges are separated by a river. The road basically runs in the middle of the mountain. That means it goes down a few hundred meters right next to the car. It is beautiful green, you always have a breathtaking view, a little fear of death and ... .. it is difficult to describe. Let's just say it's pretty much the most beautiful area I've ever crossed in my life.
I drove through the mountains for three hours with my driver and his Nissan. Police check in between. Of course they were lubricated. Short small talk, then on. A grandmother on the market place who wanted to be put off. A couple of towns later a grandma hitchhiking again. My driver sighs, freely following the moth: "Nagut, call with the old woman." Grandma loaded onto the loading area and drove on. When we arrived I stocked up as much food as I could carry for about 60 cents and ran again through the village and over the next mountain passes. It was the first time that I noticed that I'm in the middle of the jungle. Banana plants, orange trees along the way, which invited you to pick them. Only barren highlands for months and then something. And I can sleep out here !!
A classic, insane night lift follows
My hike took 2.5 hours ... but with pleasure. Traffic was a bit. Maybe 4-5 cars. At some point I discovered a small abandoned stone house on the roadside in the bushes. It was supposed to be my bed for the night. Copied a few more vocabulary lists, smoked a cigarette, committed the evening toilet… I was ready to sleep and it was already dark. But a car still came. Hand out ... it lasts. Two people are looking at me. Obviously a taxi. I declare that I have no money for transportation. Apparently not a problem for the two. "Where are you going?" "DaundDa." "Is that a village or a city?" "A big village." "No idea where that is, but let's go." Into the good room. And what follows here are night lifts for which I love hitchhiking.
First observation: The passenger was totally tight. But something totally tight. He could barely stay on the seat, always swayed back and forth, beaten by the curves and potholes. I saw him puke in the car and stood by. The first theory was that he was at a village festival and shot himself down and is now driving home. Then a mandatory pee break. Colleague drunk then had to go shit first. Luckily I had toilet paper with me, to the delight of the entire crew.
We drove on. "EY Amigo, mi Amigo, Ey", he tried to talk to me, I smiled back and he put me 30 pesos because he thought I had no money. It was extremely uncomfortable for me. But good. Sit out Stefan, sit out. As long as the car is driving, everything is fine. While I was still thinking about the money, the mood changed a little. Mr. Drunk had invited me to his house and the driver (Efrain) was discussing with him. The conversation was as follows:
Efrain: "Have a look. He speaks Spanish very poorly and doesn't understand anything. And you act like the very last here, have an ugly >
Suffi: "NO NO NO; that's not true, he's my friend. "
Efrain: "He doesn't understand you."
Suffi: "Tomorrow we talk! Tomorrow!"
Next mandatory stop in another village. Refueling. Efrain ran into some house, came back with a canister and a piece of garden hose. Tap into it and let it run. Just fill up in Bolivia . I had offered Suffi a cigarette, he was smoking it with me and explained that the cigarettes are very strong and he cannot remember his name (had asked him his name several times before). Efrain asked him to buy chicken three times for us, but Suffi ran out of money. I had that. We went on.
We then came to the place where Suffi lived and since he had invited me to his home at least 10 times, it was now the moment of truth. The place was extremely unappealing. When Suffi got out and got his things together, I started the tactical evasive maneuver. "Are you sleeping here or are you going back again?" I asked Efrain. "No no, I'm going on?" "Oh, where are you going?" "Irupana." "Ah ...... yes ... go on ... .. um ... listen Amigo .... He goes on ... maybe .... Better if I go with ... .because it is closer to my goal, you know. Don't be angry, thanks for your hospitality, but you need sleep and it goes on… .nech? "
Suffi understood that after Efrain had helped a little. I took a seat in the front, we drove off, the overall mood in the car was a relief and Efrain was also glad that I didn't go. "No es muchacho," he said only. The first thing I tried was to give him the 30 pesos, but he just said I should buy food from it.
Alcohol and corrupt police
And then the night really started. First mandatory pee break. Efrain still had half a bottle of whiskey and cola, which he mixed together, assured me that he would like to drink a little, but not as much as his colleague. Then he also told me the story, namely that the two had been driving for several days and sold a car in Arequipa near Chile . Cigarettes on, whiskey tipped behind the bandage and the fun express drove off. It also added to my good mood that I finally understood where he was going. Namely two hours further in my direction. BÄM!
At the first place the fun was over. Efrain stopped because a tour bus was parked on the street. He turns off the lights, I asked if he wanted a fire and he just brushed me off: "Nono ... psscht ... .policia." Police control. Fun became serious. He waited for the bus to park and drove off to fool himself. Unfortunately there was not enough space on the street. We had to reset and take another route. Of course, the colleagues were already waiting for us.
Efrain, gringo .... money. Efrain smeared his colleagues, but apparently it wasn't enough. He got in the car and asked me about the 30 pesos that I would like to give for a good cause. "Listo", ready. Can go on. But some penetrative woman came to the window and asked any questions. Such kind of people who always stick their noses in everything and everywhere. Oops, all of a sudden we had a woman with a child and an old man sitting in the back. Efrain was visibly stressed, for more restless and we should go about an hour detour.
So we continued on the mountain roads. We drank to calm the nerves. "Whiskey." Command to me. "Claro." One for Efrain, one for me. At the first he complained that it was too much, so only small sips of whiskey-cola afterwards. I was forced to drink with him, for the safety of everyone involved. But since the night was already escalating again, I felt a shit-no matter feeling. After 4-5 whiskeys we had brought all the passengers home safely and continued driving together as a couple. The only problem was that Efrain didn't seem to know the way as I did.
And where do you sleep?
Bathroom break. "Whiskey." "Claro." I was already slightly tipsy. At some point the lights went on in the car and I realized that Efrain had apparently already had a good seat. Can I drive? Yes, of course. Unfortunately, I never got the wheel in hand. But maybe it was better that way. The car landed regularly on the difficult road. Fortunately, the steep slopes were not visible due to the darkness. The last whiskey was emptied, in a village we asked for directions and Efrain asked about upcoming police checks. We both ran out of money, he told me what to say, I stowed my camera (you never know) and we drove tense. Fortunately, it was just a patrol and not a fixed police control. And that never reached us.
We had a great chat and finally reached the said big village. We stopped at a loss, I purred another cigarette at Efrain. "Or should I still take you to my village?" Sounds like a place to sleep. "How far?" "5 km" "Claro.". We put on at least 10 times, the road got worse and worse and after another 50 minutes we reached his village. To my surprise, he stopped at the market square and let me out. I've never been lucky with sleeping places, but never had a problem hitchhiking at night. Maybe that's related. I said goodbye and thanked Efrain very warmly and ran into the night.
I slept one place further on the terrace of a small town hall. In the morning a group of small patties gathered on the street side and made a lot of noise. A girl kept calling something. I had no idea what. But I thought that her friend was definitely not at home and whether she could finally shut up. The whole night I was terrified by a mosquito that was much too loud, which simply did not want to eat, and now some children calling for their friends. At some point I only heard "Gringo" and it became clear to me that they were calling for me all the time. My camouflage seemed to have been blown. Sit out Stefan. The Kackbratzen soon disappeared. Pack up, climb over the railing, the first car stopped in the nearby town.
There was a market and I first treated myself to a delicious street food breakfast, stopped everywhere, bought something. Cakes, cheese empanadas and a deliciously filled dumpling-potato symbiosis. Found elevator out of town. Teeth cleaned. And then started running. Running was not so great here, as I discovered after 30 minutes, when I was dusty from top to bottom. Nothing stopped. A total of four hours of walking should be ahead of me. Always driven by interest, what comes behind the next mountain and how it looks there. After three hours I had emptied two liters of water. The big and small buses rushed past me mercilessly, stirring up more and more dust.
At some point a taxi took pity. Old lyre, no money for transportation ... yes you can ride. Last crossing before my destination. Fish eaten for lunch, bought new water. Continued running. Lift in a small jeep with four Bolivians, driven along, almost built an accident, reached the last city before my destination. Next Gelaufen. Another taxi lift with two old men and a very, very nice taxi driver. From the village where we went it was a three hour walk to Coroico. Sounds good, I thought. I started and almost got a taxi back to Coroico, but they drove on.
The most dangerous lift in the world on the most dangerous road in the world
While I was running I thought to myself that I can stop everything that brings me closer. Motorcycles too. The first did not stop. Then a motorcyclist in camouflage clothing came around the curve and stopped. Yeah. And what follows now is probably the right ending for this totally crazy Yungas tour.
My elevator was a policeman. I should have noticed that things didn't go right when he got off the motorcycle, started talking to me and while he was sailing against his own motorcycle. But sometimes I have a long line. He was also a little unappealing to me, but I have a hard time rejecting lifts and don't like to discuss with regulatory authorities. So back there. Nene, move closer and wrap arms around my stomach. It wasn't as homoerotic as it sounds.
When we drove off and Aris started talking to me, I noticed that he was really drunk. Actually, I noticed that when we drove towards the first car. Whenever he turned to me and said something, his motorcycle went off course. Excavators, buses, jeeps ... well, everything that came to meet us and then we went down several hundred meters to the right. Shit, what am I doing here?
Hopefully it doesn't go that far, I thought. First break. "Where are you going?" "Coroico." Shit really drives to Coroico. We are at least an hour away. How do I just explain to him that I don't want to go any further ... .. after that I can continue. Well. Fear of death. Somehow it was funny in its own way. I held on to him well and just thought that if we did we would go down together. Next break. He wants to take a selfie. Respectively, would like me to take a selfie.
Then my selfie stick came into play. I took it out of my backpack and explained to Aris that I had got it from a driver as "Present" in Argentina. "Present" he understood, he was immediately noisy. "A present for me". Bolivian police. Oh no, now he wants a present too. "No no ..." Selfie made. Next hazards. Next break. The present didn't seem to let him go. He wanted to give me his police jacket and I should exchange something with him for that. But had nothing. Sorry. But can you still give me a jacket? I have no place for it and I can't wear it either. Oh should I just send them something when I'm back in Germany? Yes, I can send the jacket to my dad. Yeah, we're police brothers now. We went on.
I say, NEVER NEVER ever do this at home. But I survived. Aris came to Coroico to his girlfriend. When we got there he switched off his motorcycle and the first thing he said: "Here I go to get my girlfriend, please go buy me a beer." Nagut. I also badly needed a beer. So ordered two more beers and drank with Aris + girlfriend. Had spotted other gringos and I'm always out and asked them about suitable hostels. While we were talking, Ari's motorcycle fell on the curb again. Well, everything paid for by the state. Then he is out with his girlfriend. I had trembling hands but was finally in Coroico. Ready to hitchhike the "Death Road" .