This trip began with a plane crash (see my other post here), so I figured I had gotten all my bad luck out of the way.
I arrived at the Attix hotel in La Paz, Bolivia- the worlds highest capital city- with no baggage because it was still stuck on that ole wonky 737 that decided to slide on the runway.
This meant I had none of the gear I had packed for my solo motorcycle trip down the worlds most dangerous road. I figured all great adventures start something like this.
That night I met up with the German girls I had sat next to on the plane, at their hostel and much fun was had by all. I had to prove to them Americans could drink, and by god I believe I did.
After a nights rest, I woke up the next morning and had a cup of coca tea which I can’t recommend enough. It’s like coffee without the jitters and with the added benefit of laser focus. Unlike the drug that is derived from its leaf, you can still sleep at night and it does not give you unmitigated confidence and make chatter like an ass.
I met with the German girls again that morning and we went to the infamous witches market in downtown La Paz off of Melchor Jimenez street. (check out some more info here from Atlas Obscura on the witches market) I purchased some coca leaves for my journey and was given a statue that was meant to protect me on my trip by one of the shop keepers after they heard I was on the plane that crashed. The lady who gave me the statue also sold llama fetuses that were supposed to be buried under a new house for good luck. I didn’t purchase any, as I’m not sure how those would travel.
I caught a cab to a town just outside of La Paz whose name escapes me, where I picked up the motorcycle I had rented from motorcycle tours Bolivia. They offered me to join a tour and when I refused shook there head and gave me a map.
the bike was a 1990’s KLR 650 which looked like it had been ridden hard but puured like a kitten.
The views heading back to my hotel from the outskirts of la paz were some of the most beautiful i’ve seen anywhere. the mountainous jagged terrain jetting out of the earth complimented by the pastel colored buildings was a site i’ll never forget.
After riding back to my hotel I gathered my carry on and began my journey without any proper gear, but such is tradition.
My navigation worked pretty well directional at first, but the street by street was lacking so I made many u-turns and questioned myself for about 2 hours until I made it to the summit of route 3 pass, which was approx 18,000 feet in elevation. Only 2400 feet below north Americas highest mountain Denali in altitude.
I had not thought about or really planned for the elevation and I was as cold as I have ever been. It got down to well below freezing by the time I had reached the top and a strong head wind was blowing a wet fog which didn’t help. I constantly puled over to warm my hands by the exhaust.
I finally made it to north Yungas road or “The Death Road” after one of the worst sections of motorcycle rides I’ve had.
And off I went flying down the one lane road lined on one side by a steep cliff, with dense vegetation and the occasional waterfall that fell right on the road, and the other side more than 1000 foot drops. I was understanding why this was called the death road as I flew into many blind corners and had to make last minute adjustments to not become a headline on one of those journals that makes fun of dumb deaths.
Here are some videos and pictures of the terrain as I lack the skills to properly explain the majority of the road.
After hitting several checkpoints and paying a couple of fees the elevation had dropped dramatically and I began thinking I was nearing the end, when in front of me I saw that the road was flooded out and there was a wild dog on the side I was on that i was sure would cause problems.
The dog nipped at me as I crossed the water and I had to give him a little boot to back off. But he persisted until I crossed and was able to gas it away.
Shortly after I reached the town it dawned on me I had not planned at all how to get back to La Paz.
So I did as I often do and pulled out my phone, but nothing would load. The only direction I had was heading. I knew I had to head back the the south west so I found a cobble stone road and began my adventure.
About an hour later I ended up in a town where everyone was looking at me as if they knew I was lost and found a road that said it lead to route national 40 which I luckily remembered connected to route 3 at some point so I began down that road.
this road turned into a less than one lane dirt road that seemed more of a trail and had creeks running through it with rain forest on both sides. I thought about turning around but couldn’t remember which way I had taken through town so I decided to do the old dumb guy double down and kept on riding.
I encountered many wild dogs and one was so aggressive I had to kick him hard to leave me alone while I was trying to get out of a rut. He began chasing me and I couldn’t navigate the ruts quick enough as he bit my leg. once he broke skin I knew I was in trouble, so I let him get in front of me and gave it plenty of gas which I thought would scare him off, but only worked to anger him. as he got close to my leg again, I extended my leg and gave him a boot the Spartans would be proud of and he became airborne and disappeared off the cliff to my left. I’m going to assume he’s okay, but I would be lying if I told you I stopped to check.
The rain forest got denser and denser and very muggy. The road became wetter and wetter. I hadn’t seen any houses or anything resembling or hinting at life for a long time now and I began contemplating turning back and giving my Spanish a shot in the last town.
I checked my fuel but since there is no gauge did not know if i had enough to make it back to town, I looked in the tank and it didn’t look promising. So I did the only logical thing and again, I dumb guy doubled down.
I had pretty much assumed I was going to just live in the rain forest from here on out, when I turned around a sharp corner and to my surprise and utter joy a paved road appeared, with a sign reading La Paz this way.
I nearly screamed with joy and gladly accepted my cold future ahead.
After a long journey taken with a newfound sense of joy. I made it back in one piece to La Paz and had llama for dinner and chewed coca leaves and drank beer and life was good.
I hope that dogs okay though.
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