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Blockade Runners

October 26, 2012

Around mid-way between La Paz and Potosi lies the town of Callapata. I’d love to give it a description but I can’t because we never made it into town.

As we arrived at the toll station on the outskirts of the town we pulled up into a long line of trucks and buses. Wondering what was going on I got out of the truck and walked up the queue. It turned out that the road was blockaded and no vehicles were getting though.

This happens in Bolivia from time to time.

I decided to walk a-ways down the road and see what was up. I became slightly worried at the first line of burning tyres but carried on.  A couple of hundred metres further into town there were a few hundred guys milling around and people were taking potshots at a helicopter flying overhead.

Now was the time to turnaround and get out. Just as I started leaving a group of about 50 men started running towards me – oh shit I thought and for a few seconds I was pretty bloody worried – fortunately they ran straight past me.

I quickly made my way back to the truck and then we debated what to do – clearly driving straight through the roadblock was impossible. After some discussions with some of the truck drivers we found out that the unrest might go on for up to a week. Waiting it out wasn’t going to work.

Finally a helpful trucker told us that there was a way around the town through the fields and looking at our truck he felt that we should be able to get through.  Although no one else seemed to be doing it!

We decided we’d give it a go and set off through the fields on some very rough roads and through a number of water crossings. We had to navigate by dead reckoning and hoped we would get around the town and not end up right in the middle!

As we neared the main road on the other side of town there was one final water crossing (long and muddy) but finally we were approaching the road only to see a car across the entrance and roughly 20 guys milling around it.

When they saw us coming they fanned out to cover the way to the road and our stomachs lurched. There was only one thing for it – I accelerated towards them but we as got to within 5 metres of them they must have realised we were stupid arse gringo tourists and scattered to let us through.  We heaved a huge sigh of relief and waved cheerily in response. This elicited smiles from the blockaders and several peace signs  – I’d hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t been tourists, no wonder no one else was taking the scenic route!

It’s times like this when it would be great to have a couple of photos but it’s also times like this when taking a photo is the last thing on your mind…

After this we were back on the road and sped towards Potosi saying a not-very-fond farewell to Callapata.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 26, 2012 7:26 pm

    haha awesome! We got stuck in our first roadblock the other day here in Peru. good times! glad you made it through

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