Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Alpaca Fetuses and Death Road

La Paz is a big city. As we entered on the bus from Copacabana, we were actually laughing out loud at how chaotic it was--people running through busy streets holding (probably nursing) babies, incessant honking, whole families on motorcycles with no helmets, and seemingly no traffic laws whatsoever. We took some footage, which we are saving for the special feature video we intend to make when we get back to San Francisco...

I've never seen a man so happy about shoes before I went to La Paz!

This woman was selling something mysterious out of a cardboard box-- and she was actually sitting inside the box! Also, check out the way they sell pantyhose here. And I know this is weird, but for some reason, the person on the right reminds me of the Chinese character in Tracey Takes On ... I hadn't thought about that show in years until I really analyzed this photo.

This is a public bus in La Paz. I think this might be the coolest thing about the city ... they come in an assortment of colors.

You need one of these gas masks to breathe here without a safety hazard. So far, I haven't actually seen anyone wearing one though.

Candid shot of the officers guarding the bank who didn't want me to take their photo. Unfortunately, you can't see the huge rifle he is wielding (in addition to the couple handguns). They also have a special holster for a huge can of tear gas attached to their chests.

I can't get over how well-manicured that traffic island is...

The wizard can unlock your car doors.

At the Witch's Market ... a dead alpaca fetus hanging in front of a bunch of erotic films?

More fetuses, which are used in rituals to please Patchamama (Mother Earth).

I like this guy's face.

At the Musical Instrument Museum, a wonderful collection of instruments from Bolivia and beyond.

One of my favorites: This armadillo is not out of place, they actually used its hollow body to reverberate sound--it was transformed into a charango. They also used the bodies of tortoises.

At the full moon party at our hostel in La Paz, we made friends with the two girls on the right and actually met up with them at our next destination: Coroico.
We are wild and crazy girls, so we decided to bike Death Road! In 1995, the Inter-American Development Bank christened it as "the world's most dangerous road." Boy, what a struggle it was...

View of La Paz on our way to the start of the road.

The first part of the biking trip was pure magic. The scenery was amazing and the road was paved, with a nice amount of curves to keep things interesting. If only the entire road was as pleasurable as this.

Our group: Monica on the left, a French couple in the middle, two Mexican guys on the right, one videographer (from the biking company) and one guide.

Our safety van, rolling through fog.

This is a famous shot of the deadly drop down the cliff.

Waterfall? More like waterwall.

The road was peppered with memorials to people who've lost their lives here. I tried not to get too distracted by them.

A cross on the left and a lush mountain in the background.

Our guide demonstrating how to ride a bike. No, I'm kidding, I don't know what he was doing here.
So basically the ride was kinda hell for both Monica and me, for different reasons. It was definitely off-roading to the extreme because of two factors: Huge rocks and 80% downhill. We had mountain bikes with shocks and great brakes, but the shocks really didn't seem to cut down on the vibrations that much, which leads me to the reason the ride was hell for me, personally. The vibrations made me itch so bad I wanted to tear my skin off! Seriously it started in my hands and feet and worked its way up my arms and legs and throughout my entire body, including my forehead. If I had died on that trip, it would have been because I kept having to reach one hand up and scratch my face while going downhill 40 mph. I'm not kidding. And no one else was having that problem, nor had anyone else ever had that problem according to our guide. I've had itching problems before, due to exercising in cold weather, and this was comparable to that, but one million times worse because it encapsulated my entire being. At one point, I really didn't think I could make it any farther and I wanted to quit, but for some reason I didn't. I would never do this again, even if I were paid a fatty bankroll. Monica fell twice, the second time being pretty bad (but she's okay of course), so that's why the ride was shitty for her. I'll let her tell you more about her experience if she wants.

The videographer was there only to take photos and videos of us all as we biked down the road. We have the CDs with us, but unfortunately our laptops don't have a disc drive, so we have to wait until we find a computer that does before we can show off those badass photos...

At the end of the trip, we ate a buffet lunch at a hotel with a pool.

It looks nicer than it was. We didn't go in the pool. Instead we sat next to the blaring Top 40's tunes. I absolutely hate that song "I've Got A Feeling ... That Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night"--worst song ever and we hear it all over the place. Turns out there were a million flying bugs that resembled gnats but that bite as bad or worse than mosquitos. I got tore up!
We then took a local van from Yolosa (town at the end of Death Road) to a small town called Coroico, which I'll write about in my next blog post.