South America Part 9 – Getting the hell outta dodge

You’ll remember from part 8 that Jack and I were trying to get out of Unuyi

“Hey taxi driver, take us to the road block” the taxi driver warned us it would be expensive, it was risky taking people to the roadblock. As we approached the road block which was made up of a few stones in the middle of the road, local people jumped in to action and started walking towards the taxi. They let Jack and I go, but the taxi driver was forced to walk back in to town and leave his taxi at the road block. We felt bad for a while but this was our only chance to escape. To add some context, the roadblock was about a mile out of town then if you were lucky to make it past that then there were concentric rings of blocks further out. Apparently they start the road blocks far from town and as part of the negotiations they bring it closer to town.

We’d been walking for half an hour, it was edging closer to the middle of the day and the heat was cranking up. In complete contrast to a few days before when we were walking in to town in freezing cold, we were now leaving town in the blistering heat. Looking back at the city you could really see how isolated of a location Unuyi is, there’s just a small metropolis popping out of the arid desert. It was becoming ever apparent that we hadn’t brought enough water, we were rapidly running out and we had no idea how long we would be walking for.

During the walk a few cars passed us with protesters in, but there was no interaction just curious stares from the locals who must have been thinking “look at those stupid gringos walking through the desert”. Picture a film scene where the heroes are walking through an apparently uninhabited city after a world ending event and on the building above them there are eyes just watching in silence, well that was me and jack as we walked through a gorge in the road. The road itself was strewn with stones and on the hilltops just a hint of people watching, until a bold boy of no more than ten openly stood on the edge of the cliff silently watching me and Jack whilst menacingly handling a rock. The pace quickened. After about two hours of walking, we saw a coach!! We saw a coach and a driver, he couldn’t get any closer but he was staying here until enough people found the coach….that worked for me and Jack. Over time more and more people turned up, buoyed by the energy of finding the coach many people excitidely shared stories of their escape from Unuyi. The drama did now end.

About 15 of us were sitting on the coach when the driver jumped on and drove about a quarter of a mile, it turns out the road block locals were coming for the coach but at the same time there were still people making their way out of town, again like a movie scene we had people running for the coach followed by a cool wave of “the enemy” slowly walking to the coach. The driver was off the coach with the engine running, shouting, “venga, rapido” the problem being, we didn’t know who were escapees and who were the protesters but eventually the breathless passengers got on reigniting the conversations about escape, the driver put his foot to the floor and in a cloud of dust we’d escaped Unuyi and we were on our way to La Paz….La Paz….and I thought Unuyi was bad if I was going to name the movies it would be Bolivia: Escape from Unuyi and La Paz.

We got to La Paz in the middle of the night, the bus station was quiet. The rain was coming down quite heavy and Jack and I didn’t fancy a wander through the streets. We got a cab to the Loki Hostel in La Paz, it was a few nights before Christmas so we were very pleased to find that we were staying in an empty ten person dorm!!! We went straight to bed ready to explore La Paz the next day.

When we woke and all signs of the rain were gone and it looked like a lovely day. We had no plans so we literally just walked, we walked to the station then to the stadium, up hills through markets and my first impression was that La Paz was ok, it was the first city we’d been to that didn’t have a “European” feel to it.

What a mountainous city

We planned out our next couple of days, we were going to ride death road, watch a football match, celebrate Christmas then move on, it didn’t go to plan.

Jack got ill I got ill, our room was no longer just me and Jack. I got drunk then had to right off a day due to hangover and generally the town after hearing and seeing all the pick pockets didn’t feel safe.

The highlights were though, finding miserable German from Unuyi WORKING at our hostel. He was very odd but much more happy that we’d last seen him, over time we ran in to one or two of the other Germans. They had a karaoke, obviously I smashed it. We met a couple of Australians. I made friends with a Bolivian, but we were too ill to go to football and Jack was too ill to ride death road.

Once we got the other side of Christmas we packed up our things and made our way to Lake Titicaca. That’s when I decided to start making my way back to Europe, so after one night at Lake Titicaca Jack and I had breakfast and got on separate coaches……Jack was heading to the paradise of the floating islands with our German friend Ben…..I was heading for numerous days travel which would eventually leave me in Sweden (including 24 hours on a coach in Peru sitting next to a above average size man :()

I got back to Sweden though and spent a great time there including some skiing, then eventually got back to England…..THE END (I swear)


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