Another stop on my places to see list, though I am not sure I really want to travel on it, is the Yungas Highway in Bolivia. This 10 foot wide, one lane highway is rated as the most dangerous in the world. It traverses the side of the Andes on it's way to La Paz, Bolivia. It has a 3000 foot drop on one side and no guardrails, plus it is extrememly steep in places. All of these factors combine to give this highway a very high death toll, as cars and trucks routinely careen off the edge into the jungles below.
I would love to go and see this just for it's sheer scale and the danger it represents, but getting me to drive on it might be a hard proposition. This is man against nature at it's most basic a raw level.
By the way, it has become fashionable to mountain bike down this road, and a cottage industry that caters to foreign mountain bikers has sprung up. It is not in any means safe, as many of these same mountain bikers have plunged to their screaming death from the sheer face of the cliffs as they have overshot turns, or fallen down unseen holes hidden by jungle foliage.
Continuing my list of places I would really like to visit, the next entry is the "Lightning Field" located near Quemado, NM.
The Lightning Field, 1977, by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of Land Art situated in a remote area of the high desert of western New Mexico. It is comprised of 400 polished stainless steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. The poles -- two inches in diameter and averaging 20 feet and 7½ inches in height -- are spaced 220 feet apart and have solid pointed tips that define a horizontal plane. A sculpture to be walked in as well as viewed, The Lightning Field is intended to be experienced over an extended period of time.
The have a cabin available, and vistors are welcome with reservations. New Mexico, if not the lightning capital of the world, is very high up on the list. The effects of lightning can be much more spectacular due to the dryness and elevation.
There is a place in Mexico, the likes of which is not seen anyplace else in the world. It is named Isla De Las Munecas. It is a small island, near Mexico City, which is totally populated by creepy children's dolls and doll parts. These dolls were placed there 50 years ago by a hermit named Don Julian, who lived on the island.
Don Julian created this spooky place as a shrine to a little girl who is said to have drowned in a near-by canal. The locals say her ghost haunts the island, and he collected the dolls to calm her unquiet soul. For over 50 years he collected them, placing them in spooky little shrines, and stringing their parts from trees.
Here is the really weird part...
He later died by drowning in the same canal as the little girl.
Cosmologists researching microwave background radiation have stumbled upon a mystery. Their observations have detected a mysterious flow drawing all of our surrounding galaxies and galaxy clusters towards a single region of space. It almost appears as if a massive unseen object is slowly pulling everything towards it. It has long been suspected, but the super-massive scale has made studying it very complicated.
As usual, astro-physicists are at a loss to explain it. There is a growing faction that believes the recently discovered void or hole observed in the universe, has something to do with it. This "Dark Flow" has also created a stir amongst Cosmologists, since it appears to throw the suppositions of many accepted theories into doubt.
I love lightning. It is one of the coolest things nature does...
While studying flashes of Gamma Rays in earth's atmospheric storms, the Fermi Space Telescope has detected the telltale signature of Anti-Matter in lightning. This is puzzling to most physicists, who are at a loss to explain the process which creates it. Most suspect it has to do with a new view of quantum storm dynamics being proposed, that basically implies that thunderstorms are a giant natural Linear Accelerator.
They also say, that with every flash, the anti-matter slowly nibbles away the Earth's atmosphere.
In the South American country of Brazil, near the Argentinian border, there lies a small town with a deep mystery. This small town, known for it German inhabitants, is famous for it's mysteriously high numbers of twins. The rate of twin birth is twice what is found elsewhere, and half of these births result in an identical pair.
There are many theories as to why this occurs. One of the more common is that it is the result of "Founder's Effect" due to the small, not very diverse human population encountered there. Most of the people are descendants of people who cam from the same localized region of Germany. However, there is another more sinister theory at play.
Another competing theory proposes that the "Angel of Death" Joseph Mengele once plied his trade here while hiding after the war. Mengele was obsessed with twins and their genetics while performing his twisted experimentation in the Nazi Death Camps. It is possible, and even likely that he continued his genetic research to create a master race while in hiding, though in a much more restricted manner than was done in the Camps. It is known that while on the run from prosecution, Mengele hid in these remote regions of South America.
What is the true cause may never be truly known, as nothing can be totally ruled out. Scientists are a bit skeptical of the Mengele theory, as some have claimed the records indicate a higher than normal twin birth rate before he visited this area. Other historians, most notably, Jorge Camarasa have noted a distinct rise in the birth rate of twins from this area cooinciding with the year 1963 when Mengele arrived in this area.
At any rate, the whole premise of a remote town full of pasty faced identical twins is a bit disturbing, whatever the reason.