For their honeymoon, John Fulford and his wife Lily, backpack from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro visiting all the seventeen Latin American republics. When his wife returned to California, Fulford remained behind and visited every fascinating corner of the republic gathering material for a history of Bolivia and exploring a land of superlatives.
Fulford was one of the last passengers to take the steamship across Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. He rode what was once the highest railway in the world and crosses the largest salt flat in the world. To visit the coca plantations in the Yungas he took a bus down the most dangerous road in the Americas, plunging from the freezing cold of the Alti Plano to the sweltering heat of the rain forest in one hair-raising ride.
The author explored the Atacama Desert and toured a giant copper mine. He drove high into the Andes to tour a primitive lead mine then has a guided visit of the world’s largest tin mine. In Oruro he watched the spectacular Diablada (Devil’s Dance) that honors the spirits that guard the mines.
He crosses the Argentine border, as well as the Brazilian, Peruvian, and Chilean borders and clashes with border guards and petty officials. He crossed the infamous Chaco by train then takes a slow riverboat down the Mamore River where he was one of the last tourists to ride the infamous Madeira-Mamore jungle railway and barely beat the torrential rains to catch the Last Plane to Cochabamba.
Fulford ate roast monkey and guinea pig and encountered river dolphins, enormous butterflies, and brilliant parrots as well as swarms of over-friendly insects. He talked to everybody from Indians, students, and army officers to miners, missionaries and mayors. And in the process he falls in love with this huge and amazing land with its extraordinary geography, its violent history and its wildly diverse people. Years later he would write an in-depth history of Bolivia in his book, To Reach the Sea.
This is a rousing and colorful memoir (with maps) to thrill all travelers – serious or armchair alike - or anyone who knows that life is best lived in those magical moments of spontaneity and serendipity.
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