Death Road and the Trip of a Lifetime

It’s been over two weeks since I’ve returned from Bolivia, and I kept meaning to write, but life got in the way. Isn’t it funny how we permit ourselves the time to do the things that we love while we’re on vacation, but push them aside when we return to reality? 

And by funny, I mean sad. 

For those of you seeking closure in my Bolivia trip, here it is. 

Bolivia to me was like a Picasso. It was a surreal visualization of something familiar. I’ve seen many beautiful sunsets in my life, and because of said paradigm I understood that what I saw in Bolivia were also sunsets- yet somehow they didn’t feel real. And that’s how all my major moments in Bolivia felt.

I drank wine on the world’s largest salt flats, I crawled through the tunnels of the highest silver mine, and I rode down the world’s most dangerous road. And that is where my story ends. (I mean the trip, but that was for dramatic effect…)

Dubbed, “El Camino de la Muerte,” Bolivia’s Yungas road is a 40 mile stretch of road where about 300 people have been estimated to die each year. 

We took a ten person bus down the deadliest road, with a local man, Juan, as our driver. For those of you who know me well, you know that I’m overly trusting of other people to a fault. I entrusted Juan with my life- the man who rode his brakes downhill instead of shifting to a lower gear, and who I caught praying on more than one occasion. I saw this as a good sign in case Jesus needed to take the wheel.

Driving along the winding road of the Camino de la Muerte was impressive in itself. On your right side you had the wall of the mountain, and on your left a straight drop down. Crosses lined the road, marking where cars or full buses had fallen, and in certain places, if you looked hard enough, you could see old wrecks that over time that began to blend in with the jungle flora. 

I would occasionally peer over the edge and envision how our bus would tumble. 

Would we flip over the front like a gymnast or would we roll down like a log? 

And what would happen first: would I fly out through the glass or would a tree punch through the window?

I hurried to distract myself with the jungle views instead, because honestly life will happen the way it wants to and the details don’t matter. 

Plot twist, I survived, so I suppose I will never know the answer to those questions. 

But what I can tell you is that there is nothing that can make you feel more alive than the moments in which you take yourself out of your comfort zone. Whether that means traveling to a new country or entrusting your life to a Bolivian man named Juan. 

In the end, Bolivia and Death Road ending up being the ride of a lifetime. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a trip off the beaten path. 

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