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!

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August 12 – Wildberry Daiquiri

Missing Meals

Over the span of my life, I’ve seen restaurants come and go. Some I couldn’t care less for and others left a little mark on this boozehound’s soul. I’m prone to the odd moment of nostalgia. While some of these chains still exist, their locations that were closest to me have ceased operations, leaving me le sad. Here are the restaurants I miss:

Godfather’s Pizza

The pizza you can’t refuse! The Godfather’s outlet that was near our house growing up was filled with video games and played host to a number of wind-ups for sports teams I belonged to. It was perfect for parents. Stuff your child full of pizza and pop and let them run around and blow a stack of quarters on games. Surely, they slept well that night!

Bonanza Steakhouse

This will start an interesting trifecta of restaurants that just couldn’t catch on in the same location. I don’t remember too much about this joint because I was quite young, but I believe Ma and Pa Sip were fans because I was cognizant of its existence. The chain went through bankruptcy in 2008 (a somewhat common theme in the industry), but emerged and still has locations in the U.S. When Bonanza left my area and went back to the Ponderosa, in its place came…

Sizzler

As a fussy eater when I was young, I used to love salad bars, where I could just grab a few items here and there and not be bugged to struggle with food I didn’t much care for. I guess it’s kind of ironic that I liked salad and veggies as a young’un, while most kids hate the healthy stuff. In the interest of full disclosure, I was in it for the croutons and bread sticks! Sizzler left the area when I was still quite young, to be replaced by…

Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon

As a little sipper, I attended a number of birthday parties at the one Lone Star location that came to my neck of the woods. It was a novelty to go to a country-western themed eatery, with cow-folk servers and permission to throw your complimentary peanut shells on the floor. The chain didn’t last long enough for me to attend as a Sip Advisor. Interestingly, the Lone Star chain has no restaurants in the Lone Star State of Texas. I guess it just wouldn’t be unique there.

Izzy’s Buffet

This was the meal stop for many shopping trips across the border with family. It provided a nice mix of culinary options that could suit all the tastes and cravings of a large group. I remember their dessert table being specifically fantastic, with a self-serve ice cream sundae bar and other confectionary delights. The Bellingham, Washington Izzy’s location closed many years ago, replaced by a sex shop of all things

Rainforest Café

When the local Metrotown Mall underwent abundant upgrades many moons ago, one of their newest additions was the Rainforest Café, complete with animatronic jungle animals and an expansive aquarium. It didn’t last long, though, eventually being replaced by an Old Navy store. The only Rainforest Café’s I’m able to visit anymore are in Downtown Disneyland in Anaheim, California and at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, if I can get Mrs. Sip to tag along.

T.G.I. Friday’s

Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed an early date at T.G.I. Friday’s, but it may have been the one and only time we ever ate there together. Sadly, it was also before we could legally drink, so we never got to enjoy that element of the chain. Perhaps we’ll have to track down a location in the U.S. and give it another shot now that our tastes have evolved beyond chicken strips and fries orders.

Bennigan’s

The only thing I really know about this chain is that Butters on South Park absolutely adored it. I would love to try it myself, but the company went into bankruptcy in 2008 and closed a number of locations, as a result. 31 Bennigan’s restaurants in the U.S. and 44 abroad still remain, so I may get to try the Irish pub-themed joint eventually. I’ll do it for Butters!

Drink #224: Wildberry Daiquiri (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Wildberry Daquiri Frozen Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz White Rum (I used Bacardi)
  • Top with Wildberry Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Blend with Ice
  • Garnish with Blueberries

Which restaurants do you wish still existed and why? I’m curious about this because nostalgia can often be a great thing, but sad in many ways, as well, as we think about all the things we once enjoyed that are no longer an option. Now I need to have a little cry!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
The berry taste comes through nicely at the end of each sip, but it’s a pretty tame cocktail overall. Perhaps the flavour can be jacked up a little more with alcohols and liqueurs that go with the mixer.