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|Tupiza to Tarija • Bolivia 4wd Expedition
|JULY 27, 2006 THURSDAY
ROAD OF DEATH TO TARIJA
|The road from Tupiza to Tarija is called the “Road of Death”. Mog is instructed to take a southerly route out of Tupiza, in lieu of the more direct looking road, as it is safer. Even this road is skinnier than the last. If they keep getting incrementally narrower each day, I hope Kolob can fly, because there will be no road left!!! (Clair, did you add this function??)
The sky is overcast as we leave, and the clouds are sitting heavily on the mountain tops. The road climbs again to the top of Bolivia. It can’t get much higher, I don’t think. We do not see the cows, like we were seeing.
MOG finds us a wonderful place to camp for the night, beside a blue lake with flamingos, ducks, and other waterfowl that only Mo knows the names of. I slip off to take some pix while the sun sets, as Michael finishes up our BEEF ENCHILADAS!! Yes, we ARE having Mexican food tonight with Guacamole.
JULY 29, 2006 SATURDAY HEADING FOR PARAGUAY, DAY 1
It is 280k to the Paraguay border.
Now it’s Kolob’s turn to lead. We all should fuel up as we leave town, so we stop at the first station. It has a line of about 6 big trucks. Somehow the attendant flags us into the auto line and gets us filled up. (I have forgotten to mention that you NEVER pump your own gas here. There is an attendant that I think is more to make sure you pay than to provide the service as a courtesy!) The others don’t think they want fuel here, so we continue on. We pass 2 or 3 more fuel stations all with long lines. We guess that there must be some type of a fuel shortage, so start to worry about getting fuel for the others.
We make a left on Hwy 11 toward Villamonte, and drive right through a military checkpoint. Everyone waved at us and Mel, but they stopped Mog and K-9. After some discussion, we were CB’d that we should come back. No big deal, the guy who waved at us came up to us laughing and shook Michael’s hand. We paid a toll and were issued our pretty little tickets to add to our collection, and off we went. I should mention that the others decided to fuel at a place close to the checkpoint, only it had 12 big trucks in line! What they didn’t know was that the truck in front of Mog was full of 50 gallon drums that he was going to re-fuel! This truck bought over 1,000 liters of fuel and took forever between all of the different drums.
Finally at 10:15 we are leaving Tarija. (We pulled out at 8am) We have been told there is asphalt for 50k outside of town, but we lose it after 25k. Then we drive on what looks like the road being constructed right in front of us. It literally looks like we are following a bulldozer and motor grader. I know this is a old road, but it is sure camouflaged!
We do about 120k today on the dirt roads. It is so-o-o-o-o dusty. Kolob has 3″ of dirt on the back bumper.
We find a little village with an open flat spot where we are allowed to park. Michael goes to tak to some construction type guys and finds out that they are MAKING real lime plaster. They have a big roaring fire with a re-bar mesh screen above. On the mesh is a large pile of limestone rocks. When the rocks get hot enough, they will dump them down to an area where they will be busted up by hand into pieces small enough to go through a rotary grinder (turned by hand). Then the powder will be mixed with water for plaster for the buildings. Very interesting! Sheila, who needs that stuff in buckets? We have limestone! Why not make your own?? Ha!
JULY 30, 2006 SUNDAY
Mel is leading today as the road steadily worsens. It is another section of the BOLIVIA ROAD OF DEATH. Yea, my kind of road!
We get to an area of open road and can see what we hope is NOT the road ahead of us creeping up and around a sheer mountain face, but it is. Neither of us is really thrilled. At one point we get waved down by a trucker very enthusiastically acting out that we won’t make it because we are too tall. Thank goodness we are the tail end today and not the lead. Mel is smaller so does not have the trouble of the overhanging rocks about to wipe out her solar panels like us and Mog do. The other good thing about being tail is that the lead will CB announce an oncoming vehicle, giving the followers time to find adequate shelter, preferable on the INSIDE of the road, letting the oncoming vehicle take the OUTSIDE.
Mog had an incident yesterday where there was no where for him to pull over after I announced a “PINK BUS” coming. (I do mean heavy metallic hot pink!) K-9 was behind Mog and screeched in the CB as Mog and the Pink Bus about did a head-on. Then the bus did not want to move close to the rock face so Mog could get through. I guess it was touch and go, and Mog went close to horizontal to let the Pink Bus through. Ann was giving us the play by play on the CB. Stephen said that he just turned off his CB because (jokingly) the narrative was scaring him!!
The road follows the canyon carved by the Pilcomayo River, which is a very beautiful soft green color. The rock faces are reddish with green and gold mosses on them. The climate must have changed into a more temperate one because there are bromeliads hanging on the rocks. It would all be a very wonderful picture FROM THE RIVER!! Ha! But hanging on this road, it is not very pretty. At times we are driving on nothing but rockslide material that is kind of “mushed” down from the heavy trucks. In fact, Mel stops at one place and gets out to actually see if the road will hold a person, let alone their RV. I would like to say I have a lot of wonderful and scary pictures, but the truth is that I was too scared to take pictures. I had my eyes on the road, and then on Michael to make sure he was looking at the road.
The road finally comes off of the mountain and back to a flat (relatively) dirt road. Then, magically, asphalt appears!!! Oh, never mind, it just disappeared again. We had it for about 1 mile coming into Villamonte, then it ended at a bunch of road construction. We fill with fuel and water and decide to spend the night before heading off into no-mans land before the border.
Villamonte sits at about 2,200 feet and has a population of 3,000. It is not much of a town. The book says that it caters mainly to the oil workers.
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