Journal: day 5


We've come out of the sky. How many places in the world allow one to take a bus that passes through 4700 meters elevation, and in two hours bottoms out at 1,525. But that's why Bolivia rocks. After getting into La Paz, which is quite possible the most...

Shit it's raining. I'm outside. 

Yes, we have fallen victim to a tropical shower here in the principle steps of Bolivia's Amazon Basin. Anyway, La Paz rocks; I'll get back to that later.

We took an early bus this morning down the mountains, finally making our way off the puna. Coming over the Andes outside La Paz, we peaked at 4600 meters in a wide rolling yellow highland tundra widely inhabited by llamas. Llamas also rock, and it hurts me inside to know that I may never see so many all together in one place again. Towering above this llama haven, we finally caught a good steady glimpse of those stereotypical Andean peaks we'd been looking for from Ushuaia to Bariloche to Mendoza to San Juan to JuJuy to Tupiza to Potosi - unbelievably massive, sharp, jagged rock peaks that actually rise up above the clouds that swirl around them, totally devoid of even the smallest hint of life. That's the kind of think one sees in documentaries and in magazines, but never imagines he will get to stand in front of and feel. I am humbled to see a creation so awesome.

Just like that, we hit a very definite point where the bus began to head down...    down, down, down nearly 4300 meters directly to Bolivia's slide of the Amazon Basin - an amazing change of terrain to witness in just 2 hours. Where else on the planet can you descent from snowy tundra crawling with llama set before such massive rocky peaks to a cloudy tropical forest 4 kilometers directly below? Probably nowhere.

Our chosen path of descent carries with it the title of "the most dangerous road int he world," a name inspired by the high fatality rate of travel on its paths, no doubt due to the lack of guard rails as the gravel road plummets down the sides of mountains. Descending, just as the yellow grass and mosses began to grow longer and greener, we entered the clouds - a major milestone in a a road trip down from the heavens. Riding along mountain ridges and looking over the edge, the forested earth just faded out to white in the near distance, giving rise to the question of whether or not the ground actually exists below us. We continue, and as the mountains above use disappear into the sky, we hit the breaking point of the clouds. 

And just like that, we've left the realm of the sun and stars and clouds and moon and in front of us lies the massive expanse of the tropical rain forest, rolling on an infinite sprawl of hills channeling countless streams and rivers between them. The forest sprawls on as far as can be imagined, and the road improved to cobblestone as we re-enter a realm in free from strictly prohibitive slopes, and thus one again rich in human settlements. 

Now, I find myself perched atop a mud brick wall in the forest outside Coroica writing these words to be read. We spent our day off the bus eating a delicious meal of spicy river fish with fried bananas, then took a walk to feast on the abundance of tiny wild tangerines that grow on the broad-leaf trees. My discoveries of the day are two-fold: First, the rain forest floor does no lie where it appears to, but rather a good meter or so under crushed subdue vegetation that will swallow you up if you don't step just right, and second, it rains a lot in the jungle.