“Sarit!” my husband turned to me all excited, “Wanna go up to 4700m in a van and then ride a bicycle downhill 64km on the most dangerous road in the world?”
“Ahem… No! Do I look like I have a death wish?” It was an honest response. I haven’t been on a bike since the fifth grade! I thought this was the end of it, but when we got to La Paz in Bolivia there wasn’t that much of a choice but surrender to peer pressure – apparently, to be in La Paz and not do the Death Road is like visiting Paris and skipping the Eiffel tower.
Can’t say I resisted it too much. The endeavor was too exciting to pass up. Hoping that one indeed does not forget how to ride a bike, I got on and held on for my dear life. The thin road snaked before me narrow and bumpy. At the very top of it freezing rain slapped my face, soaking me to the bone, and I could only hope my numb fingers did press the tight brakes. Just in case, for extra insurance, I helped myself along by digging my heels into the ground, not wanting to be just yet another statistic of a road which is said to claim hundreds of lives each year.
The lower we got, the warmer it became, and soon the sheer horror of plummeting down the steep drop and drowning in gray fog passed. Finally, I was able to appreciate the beauty of lush green hills and tall waterfalls dropping right onto the road making the ride both a bit more fun and dangerous. I had to be careful not to get carried away and get hit by cars constantly going up and down the road. How they pass each other on this Bolivian highway, already dotted with roadside shrines, is a mystery to me.
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