South America | Bolivia – The Traces of TIME
The turn-off to Toro Toro was marked with a sign large enough notify passing airplanes but we hadn’t let that keep us from driving blindly past it.
It was now a day later as we shook our heads in disbelief. Surely the huge, rusted sign hadn’t been there the day before. Surely someone had removed it just in time for us to miss the turn. No, unfortunately all that was sure was that we had been completely blind.
The road soon disintegrated to a very rough track and the following 40 kilometers never allowed a gear higher than second. The ride was incredible and had I not been so concentrated on the undulating surface of the road I would be able to tell you more about it.
Three jossled and jolting hours later we arrived in the village of Toro Toro, in the heart of the small national park which bears the same name. Here slabs of red stone had been ripped from their beds and their horizontal layers had been thrust vertically towards the sky in rows of broken and eroded plates hundreds of meters high . Again we could only wonder what ammount of tectonic force and pressure could have created this jumbled landscape.
The bizarre mountains were not all that time had left behind for in the slabs of mudstone that rose steeply from the village there were countless tracks and trails. Some were deep and round, others clearly showed three pointed claws, and all had been made over 70 million years ago by the dinosaurs that had once roamed these wilds.
A small boy from the village led us back to the road in front of the town and showed us a set of tracks that left a small stream, crossed under the road, and ascended the slab of stone above. 70 million years had lifted these plates to their present incline and miraculously preserved these tracks.
Time had ravaged the land, climates had changed, and the dinosaurs have been reduced to a few lifeless skeletons scattered in museums around the world, but these footprints appeared to be no more than a few days old.
Aside from these, relatively recent, traces of life the wonder continued in a small gorge above town. Here in the hundreds of layers of sedimentary stone were marine fossils that have been dated to an age of 360 million years. TIME proved once again to be the true master of our planet, deciding the lay of the land and devulging only selected fragments of it’s turbulent history. Carrying with us a life expectancy of 72.4 years, the effect was humbling,to say the least.
Two days later we set out along the poor-excuse-for-a-road that had brought us there, feeling much smaller than when we had arrived. Suprisingly the return drive seemed to pass quickly and beyond Tarata we were again bouncing along an unfamiliar camino towards Sipe Sipe and the ruins of Incaracay.
It was to be a long day, one of the longest of my life, and one that seriously endangered our hopes of reaching 72.4.