Rurrenabaque to La Paz: Mucking Through the Muck

  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    I like the mural on the back of this bus.
  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    These are the lady vendors when the bus arrives in town. They are awesome.
  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    The main road from Rurrenabaque to La Paz.
  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    Yea, this is still the main road between Rurrenabaque and La Paz.
  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    I was going to just drop in for a bratwurst...
  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    Flat tire!
  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    Observationalists. Moral suppostists.
  • Rurrenbaque to La Paz, Bolivia.
    Our bus' third flat tire in a night.... unreal luck...

Rurrenabaque to La Paz: Mucking Through the Muck.
May 22.

Yesterday we were on the incredibly rough road on the way from Santa Ana to Rurrenabaque.  We were driving in a Toyoto mini-van.  That road is one of the worst I have ever been on in my life and it destroys vehicles.  I am not sure how tour operators can make money.  Those mini-vans drive 3.5 hour into the Pampas every day and 3.5 hours back again on an unimaginable road that bounces you right out of your seat at times.  And the road is busy with mini-vans, Toyota Land Cruisers, semi-trucks, and motorcycles.  For 3.5 hours, our driver drove that mini-van as fast it could possibly handle the road conditions.

There are 30 cemtimeter rocks that the driver has to dodge, the dust is so thick that he can not see, but he drives on the wrong side of the road to pass other mini-vans anyhow.  The all of a sudden the front end of a semi-truck would pop out of the dust and be coming right at us and our mini-van would have to swerve quickly to the right hand side of the road to avoid a head-on collision.  Then our driver would have to lock up the brakes of the van to avoid tearing the wheels off of the van through a deep pot-hole.  Three and a half hours of that ride was fairly intensive.  There are times when you wonder if you need to tell the driver to get out of the way, but you want to be a man and not a wussy gringo, so you just shut your mouth and hope for the best.  And the best always seems to come somehow…  It is crazy…

A couple of days before that, after we returned to Rurrenabaque, Maar-sneeze and I headed to a small government office where a Bolivian man was sleeping in a chair.  We were told that we could get a 30 day extension stamp in our passports if we went to him, and I only have four days left of my 30 day visa.  He looked at Maar-sneeze’s passport and when she said, “Hollanda,” he said it would be alright.  I told him I was a Canadian.  He said that was a problem and looked in his book to fact check.  Yep, only a 30 day visa with no extensions for a Canadian.  The official told Maar-sneeze and I to get photocopies of our passports for him.  When we brought the copies back, he took both of our passports and put another ‘30 Days’ stamp beside the previous.  He said it was no problem at all.  Even for me?  Nope.  I love corrupt countries that do not have real rules sometimes.  Just as long as I do not get to the border to leave in a few days and have to try to talk my way through this stamp that does not work in my 27 works of Spanish and have to pay off an ‘over-stayed visa’ fee…

Today it was time to go from Rurrenabaque to La Paz and figure out how to get to Peru.  On the way I met my Israeli friend Elad who was with five Israeli girls and four of those girls had beautiful blue eyes.  I wondered if I should stay for another day, but I was already packed and on my way to the bus, so maybe I will find them again on the road.  Who knew Israelis would come with such pretty eyes?  I was in shock.

So, as planed I jumped on a bus from Rurrenabaque to La Paz, since all roads to Peru seem to lead out of La Paz.  Back to the cold and no air in the altitude…  No good…

I could have paid $80B (about $11.15 U.S.) for my Rurrenabaque to La Paz bus, but I found a cheaper one for $70B (about $10 U.S.) instead for the 18+ hour ride.  I found out that the cheaper bus in Bolivia means that you will have to listen to some a-hole with a bible in his hands standing in the aisle go on and on about fairy-tales in Christianity.  I thanked god for the first time in years, that I am slow to learn Spanish.  A couple of hours later as we were driving through a village, the same a-hole had a blow-horn out the window and he was preaching to the people of the town as we were briefly stopped.  A little while later I toddler child on the bus tried to befriend the a-hole and he would have nothing to do with her at all.  I wanted to pull on his beard and smash his blow-horn over his head.  I think there is no lower specimen of life on earth than the ‘good’ Christian hypocrite.  Be sweet the child a-hole.

It poured rain last night but the road from Rurrenabaque to La Paz was better than I expected.  Along the way cowboys on horseback with their cheeks full of cocoa leaves moved cattle around.  The road was muddy, but the bus seemed to blast through it.  Then a tire started making clap noises and I knew it was coming apart.  It ‘BANG, BANG, BANG’ed for about an hour and then it sounded like a gunshot when it blew in the dark.  It was one of the dual wheels on the back and we pulled over in the mud so that the driver and his assistant could change it blow out for the spare.  The entire bus got out in the night to watch and supervise the job.  Once we were back together we hit the Rurrenabaque to La Paz mud again.

At 23:19 there was another bang and a ‘psssss.’  Another flat tire.  Another dual wheel.  So we pulled the bus to the side of the road to change the tire.  No one got out of the bus to supervise this time.  After about an hour we were back on the Rurrenabaque to La Paz road.  At 00:35 there was another bang and a ‘psssss.’  Another flat tire.  Another dual.  Three in a night!  Incredible.  We had no more spares, so we limped the bus to a village along the Rurrenabaque to La Paz route and unbelievably, amongst a very noisy disco in the middle of Nowheretown, there was a tire shop that was open.  After about another hour we were on the road again towards La Paz.  It got freaking cold on that bus at night.  I am going to race for the coast.  This cold is b.s.  I am in South America.  This is supposed to be shorts, t-shirts and flip flops.  Three shirts, a sweater and chattering teeth were never supposed to be a part of this equation…

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