Samaipata and Bolivia’s other “Death Roads”

When hitchhiking through this amazing valley to get to Samaipata, Bolivia, I saw football-sized rocks falling down barely missing the car in front of me. My driver told his daughter who was sitting in the roof-window of the car to come down and sit inside. “We have to do this quick”, he says in Spanish. I’m not worried at all, because in Europe we assume other people will take care of rocks that might fall down on a road. Bolivia has a complete different set of assumptions to roll with. My first instinct is to take a video, but I refrain. We slowly drive closer to the impact zone, stop, wait and see, and then drive quickly through it. This is a good moment to thank your deity. I guess any cliff-side road in Bolivia is potentially it’s famous “death road”.

I also got introduced to some new fruits I can’t remember the name of (it’s something between a lychee and an egg??) and there was a Happy Meal-sized banana too. The other driver was a guy who is fixing this road mentioned before with his CAT-bulldozer in this dusty area where sunglasses and something to cover your nose and mouth is not a luxury. Just two rides for more than 100 km to cover, but that’s about the maximum you can hitch in a day on twisty Bolivian mountain roads. Depending on the vehicle and the driver, the pace might be slow and nice for looking at the changing landscape, or pant-crapping fast and holding on to whatever you find in the car not to get thrown out! I got a little of both today…

The next update will be about Samaipata, where there’s waterfalls and lagoons and plenty of foreign hippy settlers brightening up the rainy season!


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