We are in the Bolivian capital city of La Paz, where sits Route 36, an illegal pop-up bar popular for being the world’s first and only cocaine bar.
South America hosts to many popular tourist attractions, but when it comes to drug tourism, it is surely a place that lovers of the genre puts on their must-visit list, as It is probably the only place in the world where you can enter and order cocaine from the bar without having to worry about the legal consequences.
Aimed exclusively at foreign tourists looking to indulge in some high-purity cocaine (no Bolivians allowed), Route 36 has been around for at least 12 years, during which time it has become popular as the world’s only cocaine bar. Yes, It’s been called first and only cocaine bar, but, as it’s hardly a legitimate business model, it’s hard to verify that.
Although the high-risk drug is readily available and relatively inexpensive in Bolivia, its use is still illegal in the country.
However, people behind Route 36 have managed to stay in business making sure to grease the right palms of the notoriously corrupt officials to avoid being shut down or prosecuted, and, because operating as a cocaine-serving after-hours lounge doesn’t sit too well with the locals, it moves location every month or so to avoid drawing attention to itself by way of complaints from neighbours.
So how does one find the world’s only cocaine bar, if there’s no address, no mainstream marketing, and no official website to check?
Actually it doesn’t need any of that to get plenty of patrons: foreigners traveling to La Paz need only tap the city’s taxi network to get information about the current location of Route 36. And there are other ways as well, including obscure travel websites and word of mouth, but this is by far the simplest way to find it.
For obvious reasons, there’s no bright “Route 36” sign outside the venue, and there’s no indication that the place even exists.
After being frisked by the two gentlemen, tourists are allowed inside the establishment, but have to pass several security checks and locked metallic doors before finally making it inside the lounge itself.
Moreover, Route 36 changes its appearance with every new location it moves to, but most often than not it’s a dimly lit room with the usual tables and a normal bar, the only difference being that you can order and enjoy more than a regular drink.
Here, you can reportedly order cocaine by the gram and have it brought to you on a metal tray, divided into lines, as well as a straw to snort it with.
The prices per gram vary by source (from 14$ to $25), but it’s definitely much cheaper than you’d have to pay anywhere else in the world.
Of course I can’t attest to the quality, but every source seems to say as above-average category….
Images from web – Google Research