Trinidad, Bolivia, in the tropical lowlands of the Beni below the Amazon, was not even our destination. We were only driving to Trinidad to leave it again, by way of the road to Santa Cruz de la Sierra - a real road, not paved of course because tropical Bolivia does not run to paved roads, but literally a highway, raised over the swamps with upcast from the drainage ditches on either side to stay dry enough for travel even during the rainy season. That was the glorious prospect before us, if we ever made it to Trinidad, except that we were not normal human beings going from A to B but venturing travellers, who had come specifically to see the animal wonders of the flooded plain. So for us the Trinidad-Santa Cruz highway should have been no promise at all, for it would mean the end of our adventure. But that was before we ran into trouble. And so it was that having flown from Washington to Miami and from Miami to La Paz, to drive down from the Andes along the precipices of the Yungas road - voted the world's 'most terrifying' by the Lonely Planet editors - we finally reached the plain only to discover that we were very eager to leave it again.
LRB 3 April 1997 | PDF Download