Exploring Family History on the Death Road

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While my fellow Torontonians partake in ribfests and fireworks to pay homage to the birth of our Motherland, I sit here on the couch, sipping some red, as my mind wanders off to another region of the world (sorry, Canada).

Los Yungas. The lush, green rainforest that stretches across Peru, Bolivia and Northern Argentina. Teeming with colourful flora and weird and wonderful fauna, it is accessible from the city of La Paz in Bolivia via the deadliest road in the world, “la Camino de la Muerte” (the Death Road).

About 50 years ago, a Korean family consisting of nine siblings and the parental heads ventured across the world from their home country to South America. (The tenth sibling would later join them). They landed in the Los Yungas valley.

My mom was eight at the time, third youngest of the siblings. Although most of the family later moved to La Paz where they opened a clothing business, my mom stayed in the rainforest for another year with her father.

They would frequently make the trip to La Paz and back, and the whole family would sometimes journey to the Yungas for restful getaways. Which meant a lot of Camino de la Muerte for my mom.

My mom remembers how unregulated the Death Road was back then, absent of guardrails and vehicles having to play the passing game when the road became too narrow to constitute a two-way. (Don’t think too much has changed there, ma).

She also recalls trucks filled to the brim with oranges and people sitting on top of the oranges as they zoomed towards their destination on the winding road.

I remember hearing about these stories when I was much younger, but back then I didn’t comprehend the global infamy of the Death Road. After days of travel research, I now find myself in awe that this rugged journey — that thrill-seekers from all over the world pay bike tours to take them on — was just a part of life for my mom.

Yes, a significant piece of my family history puzzle lies in Bolivia. Thus, Bolivia is where I must go.

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Visiting “the heart of South America” was barely a shade of a dream a couple years ago. I could only hazily envision myself in what I conjured up to be a dusty town where old Bolivian señoras in their bowler hats sold fresh fruits and nuts in open markets.

But today, the dream has actualized itself into a plan. It won’t happen tomorrow, but I’ve sketched out a pretty solid draft of my future explorations in what I consider to be the Third Motherland.

While I’d love to do the typical tourist traps, like Salar de Uyuni, I also want to be able to travel slow and really immerse myself in Bolivian life and culture. And, of course, I want to visit the Yungas and experience an important part of my mom’s childhood.

Now I just need to work up the courage to face the Death Road …

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… and maybe stop watching stuff like this:


If you were to explore your family history and culture, where in the world would your journey take you?

– Cafe <3
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Time or Money?

time or money question_marcandangel blog

Lately, life’s been hectic, I’ve grown quite un-fond of computer screens, and … well, I’ve had a bit of blogger’s block to top it all off.

But I feel like it’s during these times when the days just seem to be passing by in a tired blur that we have to refocus and re-spark our love for life! So as I was scrolling through some inspirational questions for this post, my eye landed on this one: Time or money?

I feel like most people’s gut reaction would be to say: “Time!”

I know that for me, it is. That’s because I have spent much of my life without time — and when I say “time”, I mean time outside of work and school. It was only a few months ago that my life finally consisted of having just one full-time job. That’s it. No school. No second or third part-time job. Free evenings. Free weekends.

I just didn’t know what to do with myself.

Well, I quickly figured it out. Continue reading

Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

In the past few days, three things happened that made me question: Am I wasting my time blogging?

1. I read an article by the Blog Tyrant titled “Why Blogging is a Waste of Your Time.”

2. One of my newest visitors, Whitt, left a very thought-provoking comment on being addicted to blogging after reading about my self-imposed 4-day social media ban.

3. I came across the Freshly Pressed post “Revenge of the Ping” by cheerful.egg about the weapons of mass distraction that we need to learn how to say “NO!” to.

Were the greater powers that be staging an intervention?

Just say no.

Why would blogging be a waste of time? Continue reading

Back From Hibernation. Hello World!

Wassuuuuup! Cafe in da house! I feel like I’ve been teleported back into life as we know it. It was seriously a very strange four days away from anything social media, email, and especially the blogosphere!

As most of you know, I had taken it upon myself to swear a vow of abstinence from WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, BBM, YouTube, and even emails for four days. It had just seriously felt like my life had come under the control of the Crackberry and I had to do something drastic about it.

SO. Are you ready to go through my four-day hibernation journey with me? Alright, here we go! …

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Day 1 — Monday

Day 1 really started on Sunday evening when I sent off my final updates and messages and then laid the Crackberry to rest. I actually felt relief. I felt this weight off my shoulders. I literally had a big smile on my face. I watched TV for the rest of the evening, not worrying about having to hear the incessant *pinging* throughout. I knew I had made the right decision to do this crazy thing I had decided to do.

Monday rolled around. One of my rules was that if I wanted to write about anything (that was not work-related), it would have to be handwritten in a notebook. This was just another way to get me away from my laptop. Out came the journal I had written four pages in since I bought it months ago. The writing began …

Continue reading

Goodbye, Social Media

Today, what had been fluttering around in the back of my head for a few weeks became solidified into the concrete epiphany that I spend way too much time on social media.

I am constantly being fed instant updates by The Crackberry on new Facebook comments, Twitter notifications, emails from both my Hotmail and Gmail accounts, including messages informing me that I have received new comments on WordPress. I am also constantly hooked up to the internet via my Crackbook (i.e. Macbook). And I just created a new Facebook page for this blog!

While this all seemed to be under control earlier in the year, I now feel as though it’s become my second life. Researcher by day, unstoppable Crackberry Addict by night.

Well, no more, I say. Here and now, the insanity stops.

You’ve been very, very bad.

Continue reading