Trip Start Nov 05, 2006
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The "most dangerous road" ends up at the base of a hill, on top of which sits Coroico.  Coroico is not too heavily touristed and offers a chance to make a tour into Afro-Bolivia.  A small sect of Bolivia is "Afro-Bolivia" which holds a population of the descendants of freed slaves. 

This sounded like a nice "off the beaten path" sort of thing to do so we tracked down a tour operator (two guys with a jeep), negotiated a price and set out the next morning to explore the hills and valleys surrounding Coroico and get a glimpse of Afro-Bolivia. 

Our guides were great and stopped along the winding roads to point out the different flora and explain the different types of trees and methods the locals were using to grow coffee, a little bit of coffee that is. Most of the crops in the surrounding hills were Coca.  The reason for this is simple, money!  We encountered farmers and U.S. Aid trucks which were there to teach and encourage farmers to grow things other than Coca, but the facts are that an orchard of banana trees yields a fraction of the cash than that for which a field of Coca may be sold.   It seemed to me like an obvious choice if you're a farmer in Coroico. 

We visited the house of a local artist, who's one bedroom home echoed the activism of the 1960's with his collection of books by renegade thinkers stacked around the room, a work bench for his crafts and a small stove in the corner.  Clearly a bright man who simply chose to live a more simple life. 

This tour was a very nice surprise.  We left feeling like we actually got to see something local rather than something commercial.  If you go to Coroico, you can track down the operator in the small tourist office off the town square. 

Our tour ended back in Coroico where we met up with the B-side company to pick up a ride home.  This was our tour of the "new road" built to replace the "most dangerous road".  I was more worried on the new road than the dangerous one!  Two lanes of winding highway that snake up cliffsides through the Andes.  Hairpin turns would reveal spectacular views overlooking drop offs of more than a thousand feet.   Occaisional ruptures in the erosion walls imparted a sense of anxiety about the road's construction and integrity.  Some day you'll read about it in the news.
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