Pilgrims in the land of the Outlaw
One of the classic American tall tales glorifies a couple of outlaw scallywags; Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh. Never heard of them? How about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?
These famed train robbers and cowboy bandits led the so-called “Wild Bunch” gang from 1896-1901. In the process, they liberated hundreds of thousands of dollars from trains and banks from Idaho to New Mexico.
Cassidy was so charismatic that he was even able to negotiate an amnesty agreement with the governor of Utah and the Union Pacific Railroad. Which he promptly violated by knocking off another train…
Pursued by Pinkerton detectives, the duo fled to South America with Longabaugh’s ladyfriend Etta Place, presumably with enough cash to live out the good life. This plot twist made the robbers perfect Hollywood fodder, and the blockbuster starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford is an absolute classic.
But they just couldn’t give it up! Rich payrolls headed by mule to the Bolivian mines proved too tempting a target. In 1908, the Bolivian cavalry was tipped off to the location of the bandits. After a ferocious shootout lasting 12 hours, reports state that Cassidy and Sundance, riddled with bulletholes, mortally wounded, and unwilling to surrender to lawmen, took their own lives.
Reports of Cassidy and Sundance sightings continued for over a decade, and the rumors abounded that the two legendary con-men had faked their own deaths. But all signs point to Bolivia and “one last job” as the end of the trail.
Well I reckon the impossibly rugged terrain makes the country a perfectly preserved slice of frontier. Even as the Wild West went and got civilized, Bolivia remained the big lawless land of possibility and adventure that men like Butch and Sundance craved.
We’re on a plane, and we arrive in LA Paz early tomorrow morning.
@operationthonapa Dan Futrell publication operation thonapa