Bolivia – Manzana Smash

Drive with Destiny

North Yungas Road in Bolivia has been given the menacing title of ‘World’s Most Dangerous Road.’ The stretch of 60-plus kilometer highway, connecting the capital city of La Paz to Bolivia’s Amazon Rainforest, is estimated to kill between 200-300 travelers each year. Now, the Sip Advisor likes his occasional doses of danger, but this seems a little too treacherous. Buckle up tightly, cause here we go!

Bolivians refer to the road as El Camino de la Muerte, which translated means ‘Road of Death’. It has also acquired monikers like Grove’s Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, Death Road, or Road of Fate (the name which I prefer the most). While a couple of those don’t sound so bad, the last two are particularly worrisome. Interestingly, the road was built in the 1930’s by Paraguayan prisoners, during the Chaco War. I wonder how many died during construction of the hazardous route.

Old-Yungas-Road-Bolivia

I know what you’re thinking: if the road is so dangerous, why would anyone in their right mind ever take it. Well, it is one of the only routes that will get you into the Amazon Rainforest. Personally, I think I’ll take my rainforest in the Rainforest Café style, where I can have a nice wrap, fries, and beverage in a collectible cup instead! There is also a South Yungas Road, connecting La Paz to the town of Chulumani, that is said to be just as dangerous and the northern route.

After leaving La Paz, drivers will ascend 15,000-feet, followed by a 4,000-feet descent into the town of Coroico. The road is often only one lane wide and if you expect to see many guardrails, best of luck to you. That’s one “I spy with my little eye” game that will not yield results. The road is marked with crosses in many spots where vehicles have gone off the pavement and fallen off the cliffs, so that might be a better “I spy” item. If you do go off the road, you’re looking at a potential 600-meter fall.

As if things weren’t challenging enough already, during Bolivia’s rainy season, from November to March, rain and fog can severely obstruct visibility, as well as affect the road, turning it into a muddy mess and causing loss of traction. Falling rocks and dust from other vehicles can also be issues drivers have to deal with. Lastly (perhaps literally), if you get too close to the edge, the roadway may slip out from under you.

Yungas Road Traffic

Rules of the road include the downhill driver giving the right of way to the uphill drive, to ensure the faster moving downhill vehicles slow down when coming upon a car going in the other direction and driver’s having to be on the left side of the road (a contrast to the rest of the country), so they can view their outside wheels and position against the cliff when making passes.

In 2006, a project to update the highway was completed. Added features included widening sections of the road to accommodate two lanes, updated paving, new bridges, drainage, and even an entirely original section between the towns of Chusquipata and Yolosa, bypassing one of the worst portions of the old road. The work took 20 years to complete and yes, they finally added some damn guardrails!

Yungas Road Crosses

While North Yungas Road has become a death trap to many motorists, thrill-seeking mountain bikers have come to love the route, which includes a massive downhill portion of about 64 kilometers. There’s even tour groups operating to suit the needs of daredevil cyclists. Since 1998, 18 cyclists (and perhaps more) have not survived the Road of Death. It has also become a popular destination for those who want to try their hand (ahem, luck) at the treacherous route.

North Yungas Road has been featured in TV shows such as Top Gear, Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads, and World’s Most Dangerous Roads, as well as a Mitsubishi Outlander commercial – the first to ever be filmed on the death trap. We’ll depart (bad choice of word) with this chilling fact: the single worst accident to occur happened in 1983 when a bus left the road, rolling down into a canyon below and killing over 100 passengers.

Bolivia: Manzana Smash

Manzana Smash Cocktail

  • Muddle Lime and Apple Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Agwa
  • Splash of Apple Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Apple Wedge

While they weren’t killed by El Camino de la Muerte, this seems like as perfect a time as any to reveal that legendary outlaw duo of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid died in Bolivia, following a long shootout with Bolivian soldiers. It’s believed one of the bandits shot the other to put him out of his misery after a fatal wound and then turned the gun on himself.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
There’s a bunch of really good recipes (particularly shots) at the Agwa site and I only wish I had more than two mini bottles of the liquor to try them all. The best part about this cocktail is how nice the Apple and Lime mixes. No wonder there’s an Apple-Lime Juice, which has become one of my favourite non-soda mixers!

Morocco – Black, White & Fig

Fun with Fezzes

While it may not be the most stylish headpiece ever adorned, the fez hat is a symbol of Moroccan nationalism, worn to protest French occupation. Hell, even the royal court of Morocco wears the fez, the only Arab nation to do so. Despite all that, today, the fez is seen by some as politically incorrect and viewed with negative connotations. Let’s take a closer look at this polarizing piece of headgear:

Originally called a ‘tarboosh,’ which roughly translated means head cover, this hat dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. It is typically made using red felt with a tassel attached to the top of the cap. When a number of Arab monarchies were overthrown following World War I, the fez was made illegal by the new rulers and those who dared to wear them had their asses tossed in jail.

Fez Cat

The city of Fes, Morocco was actually quite important to the hat’s existence, as it produced the colouring agent, using crimson berries, to turn the hat red. It was the only place that had access to this hue before artificial dyes were later manufactured. Today, the city is known as the ‘Mecca of the West’ and the ‘Athens of Africa’ and not much is mentioned about the hats any longer.

The decline of the fez put it amongst other headdresses that may only be worn for events such as weddings, funerals, or invitations to the royal palace. Many of the male employees at restaurants and hotels in Morocco don the cap to give tourists a little thrill and a trip back through history. You may even get the chance to wear one and snap a few photos, but it will likely set you back a little in the realm of tip money.

If you’d like to have your very own fez, they can be found online. Most sell for under $20 and come in a variety of colour schemes, but ones involving higher quality materials or with some historical value will set you back a little more, in the $100-$150 range. They can also be imported directly from Morocco, adding some legitimacy to the accessory.

Fez Pot

Today, the fez is most commonly recognized as being worn by members of the Shriners men’s fraternity. Despite wearing the fez, the group is not associated with Arabic or Islamic culture and is more in line with Masonry. The group can often be seen participating in parades, while driving around in miniature cars, and also advocating for their Shriners Hospitals for Children, across North America. Members have included presidents and other high-profile politicians, star athletes, musicians, and other notable celebrities.

Others who have worn the hat include: Aladdin and Abu; Moroccan Mole, sidekick to Secret Squirrel in the 1960’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon; Sallah, from the Indiana Jones films; Magician Tommy Cooper; one of the many Doctor Who incarnations; and a number of Disney Theme Parks characters, particularly at the Tokyo and Hong Kong sites. Steely Dan even recorded a song titled Fez for their 1976 The Royal Scam album.

The term FES has also gone on to stand for Foreign Exchange Student, most famously portrayed by the character of that name on That 70’s Show. We never learn Fez’s real name, as the other characters state it’s too hard to pronounce. All we learn is that the first five K’s are silent and his name is made up solely of vowels (which seems to contradict those silent K’s). We also never learn where exactly the character is from and both that mystery and his real name are running gags throughout the series.

Morocco: Black, White & Fig

Black, White & Fig Martini

  • Rim glass with Pepper and Sugar
  • Muddle Apple Slices and Pepper
  • 1 oz Mahia
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with an Apple and Lime Slice

I personally believe that I would look quite fetching in a fez hat. While it would be similar to a smoking cap, I’d use it solely for getting blitzed and dancing around , preferably with a monkey assistant. I know that sounds like a hundred bad stereotypes, but that’s just how we roll at the Sip Advisor offices!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Mahia is an interesting spirit in that it’s Fig-based. It has a unique taste that I simply can’t place. Mrs. Sip and I both really enjoyed the Pepper & Sugar Rim and it added an different taste to the cocktail that didn’t overpower. For the citrus portion of the martini, you have the option of Lime Juice or Grapefruit Juice. I went with a splash of both because I like my sweet and sour.

Jamaica – Au Pair

Dread Heads

Reggae music was born in Jamaica in the 1960’s and has since traversed the globe thanks to acts like Bob Marley and The Wailers. Let’s take a look at some of Jamaica’s greatest musicians from the genre:

Bob Marley

Marley’s influence spread well beyond his music, as he became a figure of the Rastafarian movement and even helped warring political parties come to agreements. “I Shot the Sheriff,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Could You Be Loved,” and “Buffalo Soldier,” highlight the long list of hits Marley is credited with. Prior to the 1976 Smile Jamaica concert, an attempt on Marley’s life was made, but he only suffered minor injuries. Marley died of cancer on May 11, 1981, He was only 36 years old. There is a statue of Marley in Kingston, Jamaica and many of Marley’s children have entered the entertainment business, carrying on dear ol’ dad’s legacy.

Bit Da Sheriff

Jimmy Cliff

Born James Chambers, Jimmy Cliff acquired his recording name from the cliffs that surrounded his childhood village of Adelphi Land in St. James, Jamaica. Cliff’s first hit, “Hurricane Hattie” came at the age of only 14. Working with producer Leslie Kong, Cliff released one successful track after another until Kong passed away. Cliff also appeared in the movie The Harder They Come, which brought reggae to new audiences. He was the face of the genre until usurped by Bob Marley. Cliff was enshrined into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Toots Hibbert

Dubbed ‘The Skafather,’ Hibbert is the leader of the band Toots & The Maytals and he might as well be, given he can play every instrument that makes up the ensemble. In 1966, Hibbert found himself in prison thanks to a possession of marijuana conviction, but his experience inspired one of his best known songs “54-46 That’s My Number.” With The Maytals, Hibbert wrote the first song to actually use the word reggae with 1968’s “Do the Reggay.” Hibbert received the Order of Jamaica in 2012 and still performs to this day, at the age of 71.

Peter Tosh

Amazingly, Tosh was self-taught on the guitar and he even helped Bob Marley learn to play the instrument. Joined by Bunny Wailer, the three formed the Wailing Wailers. After Tosh split from The Wailers and began a solo career, he released “Legalize It,” his pro-marijuana anthem. This, and Tosh’s defiant personality, led to beatings from Jamaican police. Tosh was even signed to the Rolling Stones record label before returning to his own. On September 11, 1987, Tosh was shot and killed by a man who he had given money to, when that man and three accomplices went back to try and get more cash from the artist.

We Be Jammin

Bunny Wailer

The Wailer in The Wailers, Bunny Wailer has been described as the best singer among the band and equally talented with writing songs, yet failed to achieve the same level of international fame as his bandmates. This could be the result of Wailer disappearing from the world’s eye for approximately three years after the Wailers disbanded. When he reemerged, Wailer didn’t miss a beat, going on to win the Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 1991, 1995, and 1997. Newsweek named Wailer one of the three most important figures in world music, along with King Sunny Ade of Nigeria and Brazil’s Milton Nascimento.

Gregory Isaacs

Known as ‘The Cool Ruler’ (which the Sip Advisor has to admit is a pretty wicked nickname), Isaacs is credited with over 500 albums, including many compilation releases. In the 80’s, Isaacs fell into drug troubles (who didn’t during that decade!) and served a six-month sentence for possession of unlicensed firearms. The drugs took a toll on his smooth voice, but Isaacs kicked the habit and worked in the industry up to his death in 2010, at the age of 59, following a lengthy battle with lung cancer. Today, the Gregory Isaacs Foundation carries on the artist’s charitable work and legacy.

Jamaica: Au Pair

Au Pair Cocktail

  • Muddle Apple Slices
  • 1.5 oz Appleton Rum
  • 0.75 oz Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Orgeat Syrup
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

Reggae music has shared a long association with marijuana, so if drinking isn’t your cup of tea, you can celebrate the songs in your own way!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was a knockout spectacular. The Appleton Rum is so nice, as you get a hint of it at the end of each sip. Despite more than two ounces of booze, you can barely taste any liquor, thus making for the perfect recipe. This was my first opportunity to use the Orgeat Syrup Mrs. Sip and I picked up recently and it was a very welcome touch to the drink. I can’t advocate for this cocktail enough!