Friday, April 13, 2012

On the road from San Borja to Trinidad, Bolivia

I left the village of Coroico, Bolivia at 3:00 p.m. for a butt-crushing ride that lasted about 18 hours of terror on Andean roads, but I finally arrived at the paradisical city of San Borja where I got off the bus and toured the city. Five minutes later I found myself crammed into a minivan for a 14 hour ride to my preferred destination of Trinidad, a lovely city in the Beni area of the Amazon. The ride to Trinidad was what they call fun. "They" are no friends of mine.
In the north we get snow storms that clog up the motorways, and we often see pictures of people abandoning their vehicles for some later time. In eastern Bolivia people just keep on going, shovelling mud rather than snow. But sometimes it doesn't work out as planned. Bolivians turn to boating, as we see somewhat below. First we had to get to the roads washed out completely. Until then, we went off-roading.
Within minutes we were off the road and in the ditch. I spoke to the crowd and said that though this might seem like a bad sign, that our driver is a reckless maniac and our transportation for the next 12 hours of so would be ruined while we suffered in the jungle, all is not lost: we would all laugh about it later, calling this an adventure.

Luckily I had some good mates on the trip. Others too had good mates, this being a place where one must pitch in to make things work. Not that we dug out the trucks we saw. Our first goal was to go as fast as possible through the mud so we didn't get bogged down too.

But sometimes we were stuck behind others, and we all pitched in to save ourselves.

At times, four times, the road was totally underwater and the surrounding marches were impassible. We took barges from one patch of mud to the next and carried on as before, spinning in circles and often times having to get out and shovel again. It was during the course of my second speech to the passengers that I realised I lived in a land of Oprah Winfrey sissies for far too long. I was into a great oration Shakespeare would have included in Julius Caeser if he could have, going on about how heroic was our driver who needed to hear us all cheer his superiour driving skills saving us from death. And then I realised that none of us are babies who need to hear that kind of crap. The men got out and dug, the women sat inside and did something else, I know not what. They didn't go on television to talk about the horror of mud. No one paid my speech any attention. They just live with stuff that happens. I will never do the Oprah thing again. I was humiliated. People just deal with stuff. The whining is sickening even to my own ear, and I usually love listening to myself.

Some parts of the road were totally gone and there was no hope of driving at all. We got barged across those spaces. A barge would come and let off a vehicle and another would board for the return.

Here we are, safe and sound.

The trip went on into the night, we being stuck in mud a dozen times, barged four times, no one crying about the injustice of our suffering. It was, looking back on it, just another day in the life.

I arrived in Trinidad to find the streets are no the promised "open sewers with ten foot long boa constrictors swimming in them." It's a pretty place on a river. When I return to this blog I'll go back to how we began this section of the trip. That will take a bit of deep breathing. The road out of Coroico to the lovely metropolis of San Borja was one to make me sick. The photos to come hardly do the terror justice. But that too was another day in the life, and no good to complain. I live. Good for me.


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