By the same Author:
"Travels with Verena in South America, Australia and Africa"
Available from Amazon, Lulu.com and many other sources
also available through apple i-bookstore and amazon KINDLE (the latter has COLOUR photos)
From the Atacama Desert in Chile to the Outback of Australia, from the jungle of Bolivia to the mountains of Africa, this book tells the story of Tim and Verena’s adventures together. With life-endangering bus rides, trekking through spectacular scenery, swindling money-changers and epic railway journeys, the experiences were never to be forgotten. Whether just the two of them, with close friends or with fellow travellers, they let the horizons open to reveal the secrets which lay beyond...
copy + paste to browser: http://www.amazon.com/Travels-Verena-America-Australia-Africa/dp/1470950839
The Road of Death...
We got onto a mini-bus which was to take us from La Paz to Coroico at 1500 m. We were now on the way to the jungle and it was the first time we’d been under 2500 m in two weeks. We were entering the mosquito zone for the first time. But the thought of malaria was the last thing on our minds on the mini-bus trip. The road we were to travel on was actually acknowledged in our guide book as being the most dangerous road in the world. In 1994, on average, one over-crowed mini-bus disappeared over the edge every two weeks.
But that doesn’t let you know how scary it actually is. The cliffs are literally vertical in places with the road cut into the side, a dusty and stony track only just wider than a car.
The driver started off by showing us the sick bags hanging from the ceiling of the mini-bus. It was a twelve-seater but there were fifteen people on board. The driver had to start it by opening a cover in the floor and hot-wiring it. After the journey I checked the tyres: one was ok, two were very illegal with hardly any tread, and one was completely bald. The handbrake didn’t work either – he had to put a stone under the wheel. All the time, cheesy music blared out from a speaker over our heads. All of this would be okay on your average bus journey. But this was not your average bus journey.
The valley was breathtaking; a two thousand-metre deep chasm, the majestic Andes giving way to the Amazon basin with brutal abruptness.
Whenever the driver pulled into a passing place he would do it at much too high a speed, almost locking the wheels, and stopping with the minibus only inches from the precipice. So close that, even though my shoulder was jammed against the window, I couldn’t see the edge. I was aware that if we crashed, I’d be trapped inside. Then I realised that the whole bus would be crushed flat anyway!
“Oh my God!” Bernhard turned to me, his eyes wide open. “We’re going to die!”
“I know!” I said. “Do you think we should have believed the guidebook?”
“Probably!” he replied, his face turning white as we hurtled around another bend.
“We should try and get some photos through the window,” Petra said. “No one will believe us otherwise!”
“We’ll never see them anyway!” I shouted.
We were all laughing to get rid of our fear. All except Verena, that is. She stayed completely silent the whole time, gripping on to my arm with all her might. Our hearts were in our mouths for most of the three-hour journey as we raced past trucks on the inside of blind corners and drove through waterfalls, where the road crumbled away into the abyss.
At one point we pulled into a passing place and there was a truck coming up towards us, with another one coming down behind us. The one coming up had right of way but he could have slowed down and let the other into the passing place. Instead he blared his horn and drove straight towards the descending truck, which had to stop and reverse up the narrow road with a sheer drop, to the previous passing place, wherever that was.
Several cars came up towards us at break-neck speed, forcing us right onto the edge to make room. As we approached Coroico, a truck passed us the other way. It had three men inside, no windscreen and the whole cab was crushed so we could only just see the driver crouching down to see out. They were all giggling so it must have been from some previous accident, and they were taking it back to La Paz for repairs.