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February 22, 2012 7:22 PM   Subscribe

In Bolivia's jungles and steep cliffs the Yungas people do not walk. They fly. On ropes. Like birds. Faster than astronauts.
posted by lemuring (37 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh hey pretty neat OH GOD NO DON'T PUT A BABY IN THAT THING
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:45 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


They say ropes, they say wires, but there's a word for that, and it's cables.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:47 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


But someone might think you're talking about sending a telegram.
posted by XMLicious at 7:53 PM on February 22, 2012


This looks neat. But I wouldn't do it. Nice little doc.
posted by carter at 7:56 PM on February 22, 2012


Objection overruled, StickyCarpet. The defense may proceed.
posted by lemuring at 7:57 PM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I translated the little guy's baby Spanish for you:

"Can't you see he's totally insane?"

"Are you just going to stand there, gringo, and let this happen?"

"Yes, I'm six or seven years old. I'd like to make it to double-digits."
posted by Max Udargo at 8:03 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm 99 percent sure footage of this was a previous FPP -- not the same TV show, but definitely footage of children using the cables to cross the valley to get to school.
posted by Forktine at 8:09 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


They say ropes, they say wires, but there's a word for that, and it's cables.
It looks like they are unbound wires, running parallel. Calling them cables is generous.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:16 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like how the guy assures us the cables are safe because they're galvanized steel and there are four of them strung across.
posted by JackarypQQ at 8:16 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah there was a much earlier documentary about this.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:17 PM on February 22, 2012


And, 100 years later, Tarzan's practice of swinging through the trees is vindicated.
posted by misha at 8:18 PM on February 22, 2012


Oh hey pretty neat OH GOD NO DON'T PUT A BABY IN THAT THING

no way dude, the only way that could be more awesome was if there was a dog in there with the baby and they were both wearing steampunk goggles and leather pilot hats.
posted by elizardbits at 8:24 PM on February 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


This whole documentary is amazing. And those guys are getting shafted on coca prices, my god.
posted by empath at 8:24 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's a great documentary.

You first see the cables...err...ropes...err....wires, whatever and think cool, you zoom across that valley crazy Bolivian coca farmer. Then you meet his wife and kids in La Paz and are like, DUDE, STAY THE FUCK OFF, GALVANIZED OR NOT.

Really good film. Do I hate freedom for liking something on Al Jazeera?
posted by Keith Talent at 8:33 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


And those guys are getting shafted on coca prices, my god.
In Nils Gilman's Long Now SALT talk, he explains that illegal drug prices tend to be fairly flat within a country, but jump dramatically when a border crossing is made. The greater the penalties for transportation, the greater the price - and profit.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:34 PM on February 22, 2012


Ok, here is the FPP I was remembering. Apparently from Colombia, not Bolivia; it makes me wonder how many places have relied on similar ziplines for routine transportation. I now and then see the remains of old ones across gorges in the western US, for example, usually set up for a rancher or miner to cross a river, rather than for all the kids in the town to go to school.
posted by Forktine at 8:39 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of me really, really wants to get my ass on a plane down to Bolivia and give those guys some braided steel line and climbing harnesses.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 8:44 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems an ingenious way to make your operation more efficient. I'm thinking they have an idea of the risk involved. Maria described her husband's death graphically.

My personal context argues against the whole thing, especially the child. Their viewpoint is quite different, I'm sure. The little cocolero will die, be injured, or become a cocolero without fear of heights, or just go do something else within the realm of his possibility, I don't know. It makes me shudder to think about any of this flying about thing, but that's not my life and I'm not comfortable judging them for whatever it is they do to survive.

the only way that could be more awesome was if there was a dog in there with the baby and they were both wearing steampunk goggles and leather pilot hats.

Hey, leave Thomas Dolby out of this.

posted by wallabear at 8:45 PM on February 22, 2012


Does his t-shirt really say "You can never run out of things that can go wrong'?

Seems to be asking for trouble.
posted by estuardo at 9:02 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's not the wire rope i'm worried about, it's the shitty rigging. tie myself to a pulley with some fabric? no thanks.
posted by facetious at 9:19 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fascinating documentary. Thanks, lemuring.

It makes me shudder to think about any of this flying about thing

Yep, seems a tad sketchy to me too. Using dried-out leaves for brakes, which actually begin to smoke as they zip across? Cloth harnesses? Really? Gloves are exotic?

So then, at least, he gets to a highway, but it turns about to be the frikken Road of Death?

Poor guy can't catch a break.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:40 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the section when they were talking about chewing coca, a man said "nos trabajantes como Chinos" as "we work like dogs", when literally it's "we work like the Chinese".

Also, my sister just came back early from Bolivia because she broke her ankle biking down that road of death.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:04 PM on February 22, 2012


Well, that looks highly fatal.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:20 PM on February 22, 2012


As opposed to slightly fatal?

Also, Faster Than Astronauts is the best new band you haven't heard of.
posted by mediated self at 10:22 PM on February 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jeez. Around here people pay a lot of money to do stuff like that - only difference being the whole 'safety' issue, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:26 PM on February 22, 2012


that would probably be the most amazing thing ever when you're also HIGH AS FUCK ON COCAINE.
posted by ninjew at 10:50 PM on February 22, 2012


yes i know coca is not cocaine
posted by ninjew at 11:04 PM on February 22, 2012


oh man... I wouldn't put my *laptop* across in that sack, let alone my son.

(not sure why I'd need my laptop, never mind)
posted by alan2001 at 12:02 AM on February 23, 2012


And those guys are getting shafted on coca prices, my god.

The money is in importing and commercial sales. Small scale production of a bulk commodity is not a path to riches, but it will also probably keep you out of jail.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:58 AM on February 23, 2012


Yeah, as mentioned above, with the Ziptrek, there are tourist attractions in places like Puerto Vallarta, New Zealand, and even caverns in California with the same setup. I did one a while back. You go on a set of 10 or so lines, as part of your "adventour." After the first couple, I found the zip across the canyon to be... not particularly exhilarating. The views and opportunity to see things from that perspective were incredible, but the experience of being in the air was not daunting. Normally I'm afraid of heights, but once you're on the thing, there's not much of a feeling of vertigo, not for me anyway. The things are as secure as can be, and if the cable fails, well it's a sexy way to go.

I kept asking myself why this isn't a more common form of transportation as opposed to being just a tourist trap. I'd like to see these things around NYC just to see Madison Avenue execs nonchalantly clutching their pulleys as they yell into their iphones, ziplining to the roof entrance of Grand Central...
posted by architactor at 1:46 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the cheesy local interest television news magazine show here in New Hampshire did a story on what is supposedly the "longest zip line canopy tour in the whole Continental U.S" (probably Pepsi Blue, of course).
posted by XMLicious at 2:45 AM on February 23, 2012


Did anyone else notice that, despite the farmer telling the journalist the system was only a few years old, and despite the equipment being in good repair*, the pulleys are still "ancient and rusting"?

I'm sure that has nothing to do with the crop they're harvesting, or the farmers being indigenous. We all know that western journalists are far too enlightened to play to some stereotype about life being cheap and technology being poorly understood among the heathen tribes.



* and even having a safety carabiner that was new and not showing any sign of notching; indicating regular maintenance
posted by clarknova at 3:07 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just thinking how unimpressive it is to be faster than an astronaut. I mean have you seen someone try to run in a spacesuit?
posted by edd at 3:26 AM on February 23, 2012


the pulleys are still "ancient and rusting"
Ancient and rusting may be an exaggeration, but if you don't have much in terms of money to buy new bits or cast metal in useful shapes, you re-use the same bits over and over again. That is a truth. In my own experience guys who live in these conditions are the best engineers. True, some of them have never gone to school, used a calculator, or learned to read, but they get an amazing hands-on education. There is no way the basic physics here is poorly understood.

(The new carabiner could also be the result some panic among the production crew upon seeing the zipline and realizing they had to use it too!)
posted by whatzit at 3:56 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


no way dude, the only way that could be more awesome was if there was a dog in there with the baby and they were both wearing steampunk goggles and leather pilot hats.

A man holding a dog between his thighs while riding down a zipline in South America.

Be careful what you ask for... *foreboding sound*
posted by lemuring at 4:13 AM on February 23, 2012


Objection overruled, StickyCarpet. The defense may proceed.
posted by lemuring


Well, now I've added "wire rope" to my lexicon, lemuring. However, the link you just put into evidence concerening a zipline in South America has a title credit of "El Cable," and another title saying, "It's called a cable."

I ask you, members of the jury, does Riceroni ever feature a San Francisco Wire Rope Car?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:46 AM on February 23, 2012


Give me all that blow and I could fly too . . . watch me.
posted by eggman at 2:11 PM on February 23, 2012


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