Copacabana. The weather was rainy so it was a
good day to curl up with a book and read all day. Tim worked on
his letter all day.
I half expected people to be hostile or just not
really liking tourists here because of the recent protest. On the
contrary, we have not encountered any hostility and people seem to be
very mellow. In contrast, the people near the border on the
Peruvian side were very aggressive about asking for money.
Copacabana. Sunday is a special day in
Copacabana, it is the day to get your vehicle blessed. Yes, a
priest will bless your vehicle, including a bike, the price, I am not
sure. The cars were lined up. They had flowers on the hood,
the owner would pour beer or champagne on the tires, giving the area the
smell of a bar, and pray over their vehicle. Tim and I got into a
heated discussion of why people do this. He says that it is just
for fun, I say it is steeped in superstition, a fear of what would
happen if they did not. I guess it depends on the person. I
personally would have my bike blessed for fun.
Went to the cemetery to
see what Day of the Dead was like here in Bolivia. We arrived with
everyone else, the mood was very somber, people were visible mourning
and I felt like I was intruding on their privacy. There is a cross
at the entrance to the cemetery, at the base it says, today me, tomorrow
you. It certainly humbled me reading that.
Copacabana. Tim is still writing and we are still
waiting for a package from the USA to arrive in Cusco. I am
beginning to think that it is lost, stolen or just plain gone. We
will wait another day or two and then move on to La Paz.
Copacabana. We received an email from the South
American Explorers Club. Our package has arrived at the post
Copacabana - I took a bus to Cusco today. First
we stopped in Puno for 4 hours and switched buses for our trip to Cusco.
I met Megan, from England, and Bertrand and Roli from France. The
Frenchmen were extremely entertaining and always in a good mood, they
were really fun to travel with. Megan was on her way to Guatemala
to help with human rights, they really need the help, although I think
it is a bit of a dangerous mission.
While in Puno we watched a parade
to celebrate the towns 350 year anniversary. The streets were
lined with people, the entire town was watching. Dance troops of
all ages paraded by in cowboy outfits, cats, and local indigenous dress.
Oh how I love a parade.
Cusco - Copacabana. I arrived in Cusco at 5:00
am, yes I have been here before, almost exactly a month earlier. I
had breakfast and then went to the South American Explorers Club to pick
up my package slip. I arrived looked for my paperwork and it was
not there. Finally it was pulled from the back room.
Immediately I noticed that the package had arrived on October 25.
Hey why didn't you contact me. The young man who gave me the slip
was dumb founded obviously he did not know anything about it. Boy
was I upset. How difficult is it to send an email. I raced
out of there to the post office, only to find out I had to wait until
2:00 pm for customs to open. Finally I got my package, I had to
pay a storage fee of 1 sole per day for 12 days because the South
American Explorers Club took their sweet time notifying me that my
package had arrived. It really made me mad when I realized I had
called and talked to Ross the office manager on October 27th and my
package had arrived on the 24th. What was he thinking anyway.
I certainly feel that my membership was a waste.
Back on the bus to
Puno, a long 7 hours. I was lucky enough to have a farmer sit next
to me. He smelled terrible, so bad it made me ill. The
combination of his smell, he had bugs all over him, and the windy road
made me extremely ill. I can now relate to how terrible Tim must
feel when he gets motion sick. Terrible. I could not wait to
get off the bus in Puno. I got a hotel room and a ticket back to
Copacabana. It is always a mistake to buy a
ticket from a travel agent. I was charged double. When I complained
to the women she ran away. Oh I do not like traveling by bus, to
many con artists. When two Dutch girls heard me complaining they
said, it is only 10 sols ($3.00). I said yeah this time next time they
will try for more. It does not sound like a lot but if you do not
insist on a fair price then no one will get a fair price, this is why
foreigners are charged double all the time. Letting it happen only
makes things worse for the next person. The young students did not
think that far ahead.
While on the bus I met three American students.
Kristen, Spencer, and Kerby. They are going to university for a
year in Quito and were traveling around Peru and on to Bolivia. It
was great to talk Americans, we meet so few. I fear that I may
have talked their heads off. sorry.
Copacabana - Huatajata. Ah it was great to get
back on the bike again. We are in for a treat today too.
Today a UCI sanctioned bicycle race in coming to Copacabana. We
will be able to see them along the road. As we road out of town we
could here the race being announced over the radio, every farmer along
the way had their radio on and were listening to the race. We
climbed out of town and into the mountains, still dry but beginning to
turn green because of the recent rains. It was so pleasant
everyone along the way was friendly and did not call us Gringo. The road
did not have much traffic and we had a tail wind. What more could you
We made our way to Tiquina where we would catch a ferry
across to the other side. When we arrived in Tiquina we met the
bicycle mechanic for the race. We talked to him for a couple of
hours before the race was to start on this side. Today's race is
actually two races one from La Paz to Tiquina San Pedro, about 100
kilometers. The other starts at Tiquina San Palo to Copacabana,
about 40 kilometers. We stayed for the start of the race and
caught a ferry, a flat bottom boat that looked like it had seen better
days, to the other side. It was already late in the afternoon but
we decided we wanted to push on. The mechanic told us that they
were going to close the autopista (highway) in La Paz for the race that
was going through tomorrow. We wanted to ride on the autopista
without any traffic.
We arrived in Huatajata, we were having a hard time finding a cheap
room. On room was 30 Bolivianos and it did not even have hot
water. The hotel owner said the next hotel was $80 per night, we
did not believe him. Well he was right, we asked about another
hotel and everyone told us Hotel Titicaca, it is cheaper. So on we
rode. It was getting dark and the moon was rising over the
mountains. It was getting cold. I man came riding by on his bike,
he had a jacket on that said Hotel Titicaca. Oh dear, this is not
a good sign. It was getting dark, to late to set up the tent, plus
there was no where to go. We arrived at Hotel Titicaca and
realized that we did not want to stay there. But we had no choice.
The cost of the room for one night was $35. Ouch. We did however
have an excellent dinner of steak and chicken.
ascend 835 m (xx feet),
descend 840 m (xx feet)
Huatajata- La Paz, Bolivia. We knew if we
could get to Al Alto before the cyclists did the autopista would be
closed. The weather was windy and clouds were building up over the
mountains. At one point we had to take cover under a half built
house because of the rain and blowing sand. We pushed on to Al
Alto and the traffic began to get heavy. Everyone on the side of
the road told us that the race was coming soon. Finally the road
was closed, it was a great relief to get out of the traffic. As we
were climbing the hill some people thought we were the racers and
cheered us on. It was great fun. Finally we reached the
autopista just in time for it to close. Normally we are not aloud on the
road but today we had the road all to ourselves. We dropped into
La Paz quickly, I was slower then Tim, he was so far ahead of me that I
could not see him. Later he told me that the racing fans thought
he was the race so the cheered him on. How fun. I just waved
as I went by. I felt like a bit of a celebrity.
When we landed
in La Paz I went in search of a hotel room. I checked out 7 or 8
hotels. Finally I found the one and came back to get Tim. I guess
it took a long time to get back because while I was away Tim had an attempted
ascend 425 m (xx feet), descend 580 m (xx feet)
75 km 45 mi
La Paz. We went to the fancy grocery store today
and realized just how big La Paz is. It will be a challenge to
ride out of here.
La Paz. Went to a Burger King today. I could not
resist, it turns out it sounded better than it was.
La Paz. Went grocery shopping. I decided to
dye my hair again. Of course I could not find the color I used
last time this time I used Nutrissa, Oro number 83. I thought that
it would be to much blonde but it turned out alright.
La Paz. We went shopping for alpaca sweaters
today. We met Michelle and Erin from the USA. They had
recently quit their jobs at Yosemite to go traveling. They were on
a Christmas shopping spree, they were going home in two weeks. We
decided to go out to dinner together. They told us about Brazil
and Argentina, sounds like they had a great trip.
La Paz. Sent the day running around trying to
ship our package home. First we went to FedEx. They charge
$45 just to send a box and about $11 for each kilo (2.2 lbs). So
our box would have cost us $89 dollars. This was a bit steep so we
went on over to UPS. We stepped in the office of UPS and knew
right away that UPS was for cargo and not little boxes. We met and
extremely elegant lady who spoke fluent English. She explained
that the minimum charge to Miami was $60 and then on to Indiana another
$30. Well I guess we will not be using UPS either. The women
went on to explain that she grew up in Argentina and that the night life
was wonderful there. She said that you can go out to eat early,
catch a show, then eat again and see a show at 1:30 in the morning.
I did not have the heart to tell her that we are in bed at 10:00 pm.
Maybe we will change our sleeping habits in Argentina. Finally we went
to the Bolivian post office. The cost to send our 3.5 kilo (7.7
lb.) was 159 Bolivians $20.65. Now that fits in our budget a
little better. It will take 15 to 20 days to get to Indiana.
By the time we finished sending our box the day was gone.
We saw that
Matrix Revolution was playing at the theater and we could not resist
(more like I could not resist). The last movie we saw in a theater
was Bourne Identity in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and that was last February.
We went to the 3:30 show and it cost 22 Boliviano $2.85.
La Paz. We were suppose to leave La Paz today.
Tim woke up with a cold so we decided to stay one more day. Boy
are we moving slow, we need to be a move on. I fear we have
adopted the manana attitude.
I went out in the afternoon and went to
the Coca Museum, while I was there I ran into the French boys I had met
when I went to Cusco. I then wonder around down by the main street
looking for sunscreen in the farmacias. While I was heading back
to the room I stopped in a pizza place to pick up dinner. While I
was in the restaurant I bumped into Fritz the German cyclist we rode
with in Peru. He had just arrived. We went back to our room
and had dinner.
La Paz - Pocohata. We climbed out of La Paz back up to
El Alto, about 500 m (1500 feet) the only way out of La Paz. We finally found the
road out after pushing our bikes though a crowded street market, not the best thing to
do because of the potential for crime. Tim always had his eye on
our things, he kept the thieves away because he was alert.
Up we climbed, along the way we had an old man point us in
what we though was the right direction. It was not the best way to
go, it may have been shorter but it certainly was steeper. Tim was
not feeling well when we left but he insisted that we leave La Paz
because we had been there a week.
We finally made it to El Alto and
Tim looked and felt bad, he felt weak had a cold sweat and nausea. We had our lunch in a gas station and
decided to push on and camp as soon as possible.
10 kilometers down
the road we found an old
abandoned building with two of its walls blown down, we pitched the tent
between the two standing walls. We had a beautiful view of the the
mountains and it was pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by.
ascend 835 m (2740 feet), descend 840 m (2755 feet)
32 km 20 mi
Pocohata - Patacamaya. Tim was feeling better
although I was not. I think he passed his cold to me. We
rode for two hours and stopped in a little town looking for a
restaurant. Nope no restaurant in sight, only a store. We
had crackers and sprite for lunch, we bought some bread for tomorrows
breakfast and rode on.
In the Andes the sun is intense, as intense as
the sun in the deserts of the southwest USA. Yet we are at 4,000 m
(13,000 ft) so it is cold in the shade and the wind cuts through you
like it was winter.
We passed some construction around Ajo Ajo where they were paving a
new road. Once we made it past the construction the road was new
and smooth. Great riding. As we were riding through a small
town before Patacamaya we passed three young girls on the highway.
Just as I passed them I was sprayed with a hand full of rocks. Tim
and I did a U turn and rode back to the three young girls on the side of the
road. Of course, one took off running, hmm I guess she was the
culprit. We asked for her name and where she lived. The
other two girls were not talking. Why this young girl threw rocks
at me, who knows, lucky for me she threw like a girl.
In Patacamaya we stayed at Hotel Santa Elenita for 50 Bolivianos
($6.50), it was a small room but we had a private bathroom and hot
ascend 315 m (1033 feet), descend 420 m (1370 feet)
Patacamaya - Vira Vira. The day was sunny and
warm again. We climbed out of Patacamaya until Sica Sica ( I am
noticing that many names here are repeated twice) and then we rolled up
and down. The towns were few and far between and when we did see
one they were very quiet and without a store in sight. No commerce
takes place out here. Imagine your whole life and never buying
anything, just trading. We started to look for a place to get
water, we saw a women take a drink from a stream that was choked with
algae. All I could think of was, there must be fecal coliform in
that stream from the cows standing near by. I would not even
filter that water. Would she get rushed to the hospital with e
In a small town we finally found a place to get water.
The man at the side of the road told us to get it from the fountain,
just go where everyone else is going. We could see that getting
water from "the fountain" was a kids job because 5 of them were standing
in line near a PVC pipe coming out from under a bridge. They could
not believe that we were there to get water too. Tim filled up our
10 liter bag, tied it on top and we were off down the road.
We took a dirt road off of the main highway and found a place to
camp. No one was around when we arrived. Within thirty
minutes we were surrounded by sheep and a couple of burros. I
guess we were in the way. The sheep herders walked around us,
pleasantly waving to us but never coming to close.
We made dinner, put up the tent and went to sleep for the night.
ascend 460 m (1500 feet), descend 365 m (1190 feet)
46 mi 74 km
Vira Vira - Oruro. We were up with the sun and
decided to take our time leaving today, we only had 51 km to go to
Oruro. As we were having our breakfast of bread and coffee, two
young girls came riding down the dirt road. At first we thought
they were passing through but they pushed their bikes into camp and
starting chatting. They were on their way to school, they were
well dressed and each had a backpack full of school supplies.
Unfortunately we had our stove out and a number of other things.
They marveled at our lighter and water filter. We looked at their
school work too. These girls were 13 or 14 years old yet their
school work was something I though a much younger child would do.
Tim, the teacher coming out in him, said he thought that their school
work was at a third or fourth grade level. Counting, adding, identifying
objects, in the States they would be doing fractions, beginning algebra,
and writing stories.
One girl looked around and saw the bread I had put in the sun to heat
up, she asked me if she could have some bread, I decided to give them
each a piece of bread. After I gave her the bread she showed me
her lunch, which was better than our breakfast that we had just shared
with them. Then I asked them if I could take their picture with
their bicycles. They said yes. Suddenly, after I took
their picture, they were asking for money. We politely declined.
They insisted that we give them money, asking three or four more times.
Tim said, No, we gave you bread, that is all we are going to give you.
Still they insisted and were becoming quite rude. Finally, Tim
said, Go to school, call the police and tell them I will not give you
any money. They stormed off, but not before one of the girls cussed us
out as she was riding away. We just smiled and waved good bye.
After they left Tim and I discussed why relatively economically
stable kids would behave this way. We have seen what poor kids
look like and these girls did not fit. They were well dressed,
well fed, going to school and even had bicycles. Poor kids herd
sheep all day long, do not get to go to school, and usually wear old and
We are not sure why people keep asking us for money here in Bolivia
and Peru while they did not ask for anything in Guatemala, Honduras or
Nicaragua (equally poor countries). We wonder if this is the
result of irresponsible tourists handing out gifts every where they go
or a foreign aid group who does not consider the destructive nature of
giving out hand outs. There must be better ways to help people
without removing their dignity and respect for others.
We had a nice down hill out of Vira Vira. The road was flat
from Caracollo to Oruro. We also had a good head wind all the way
into town. Tim always gets the brunt of the head wind, I get
behind him and draft out of the wind as much as possible.
Town was much bigger than we expected. We stopped
at a restaurant and had lunch. Then we went to the plaza. Tim
stayed in the Plaza and I went in search of a room. When I
returned Tim was in a panic. Three immigration officers asked to
see his passport. I carry our passports and he had no idea where
they were. As he was digging through my bags the officers told him
to come to the immigration office when I returned. When I returned
we immediately went to the immigration office and I showed them our passports.
They wanted to make sure our tourist visa was current, it was, so I
left. Tim has had a tough job watching the bikes lately. In
La Paz they tried to rob us and here immigrations wanted to see our
We stayed in Hostel Gloria for 40 Bolivians ($5.20), shared
bath. A pleasant old building.
ascend 125 m (410 feet), descend
270 m (885 feet)
32 mi 51 km
Oruro. Tried to find a lavenderia (laundry) and had no
luck. Finally, the women at the hotel said she would do our
laundry for us. Oruro is a larger town than I thought it was, it
is also filled with kids going to school. At 5:00 pm the streets
were filled with kids getting out of school. The average age here
is about 16. So this made the town lively.
Oruro. Tim had a lot of web work to do today.
Oruro. We were packed up and ready to go today,
well almost. Tim had a flat tire that we had to change twice
before it would hold air. By then it was pretty late. Tim
was feeling sick again only this time he was nauseous too. I went
to the Pharmacia and picked up a round of antibiotics, Tim has been sick
way too long.
I decided to send Fritz an email, I knew he was not that
far behind us. At 8:00 pm Fritz showed up at our door. Yeah,
we are going to go through the Salar de Uyuni together.
Oruro - Prezna. It was Sunday morning and the
streets through the market were very crowded. We head south east
with the plan to camp somewhere between Oruro and Challapaya the end of
the pavement. We made good time in the morning when the wind was
not so strong. We passed a few towns and did not even find a
store. We followed along Lake Poopo but it was mostly dry, at one
point we could smell the strong smell of sulfur.
We stopped for the day near the town of Prezna, there happen to be a
hot spring just before town so we camped behind it. We actually
camped between the two springs that fed the mineral baths. It was
2.50 Bolivians for a 30 minute soak. After dinner Fritz and I went
in for a soak while Tim stayed in camp and watched our belongs.
ascend 265 m (870 feet), descend 220 m (720 feet)
Prezna - Challapata. We took our time in the
morning because it was a short ride to Challapata. We knew from
our guidebook that there was
a hotel in town and we could get water before our trek to Salinas, 150
km away. From a distance Challapata looked huge and I had dreams of
a nice restaurant and hotel. No such luck, the town was dusty,
dirty, and it was difficult to find a hotel at all. We finally found an
un-named hotel for 10 bolivianos per person. Little did we know
that the water would be turned off an hour after we arrived. Water
is a tough thing to come by in these parts.
We studied all the maps we
have to figure out our route to the Salar. We decided we needed to
carry two days of water from here. I hope the water is on tomorrow or we
will have to buy a bunch of water. We are now off the pavement and
it is a dirt road from here on out.
ascend 130 m (425 feet), descend 105 m (345 feet)
Challapata - Quillacas. We rode to Huari and
planned to take a side road from there to at least Quillacas. We
each had two days of water with us, Tim had 15 liters, I had 6 liters
and Fritz had 4 liters plus Pepsi. At first the dirt road was fast
and we traveled quickly. Then we came to an intersection and had
to ask which was to go. We were now very close to Lake Poopo.
We came to a small village with adobe walled houses and grass roofs.
Because it was moist in this area there were mounds of moss all around.
The village had a surreal feel to it. The people were friendly and
pointed us in the direction of Quillacas.
We traveled across the flat
Pampa occasionally getting stuck in the sand. It was difficult for
me to steer my bike because of the extra water on my front rack, I
bogged down in the steep sand and quickly got tired of pushing through
the deep parts. Llama herds were everywhere. I am amazed how
quickly they can run on these flats, I mistaken one for a car numerous
times. It was quite a climb up to Quillacas. We could have
gotten water there. We camped soon after.
51 km dirt
Quillacas - Tambo Tambillo. Gravel road with some good
parts we also had a strong head wind at times. I had a stomach ache
in the middle of the day that lasted the rest of the day. I think
it was the water. As we were climbing a hill up to Tambo Tambillo
Tim broke his chain. It is a new chain, only about 1000 km (600
miles). We arrived in the small town of Tambo Tambillo, it had a
nice well with
good water. As Tim was moving from the well to the bike with the
water he pulled out his back. He hurt so bad he could barely get
back on his bike. He rode for about two kilometers and we decided
to camp. Tim laid on the ground and could not move at all. I
have never seen him in this much pain. I fear that he may not be able to ride
We camped just past town. The entire time I was setting up camp
and cooking dinner we had visitors. They were friendly people
curious about the three foreigners camped on the side of the road.
We had no trouble through out the night.
47 km dirt
Tambo Tambillo - Salinas. Tim decides to ride.
He took a few aspirins before we started out, he is doing well until we take the wrong road into town and found
ourselves pushing our bikes through sand again. We rode around the
edge to the salt flat, it was a little wet in places. Tim rode
through some mud that smelt awful like a rotten egg, it was probably
gypsum salt. We also saw a herd of Vinacus run by at top speed.
The side road eventually made its way back to the main road to Salinas.
The road was bad with washboard and dusty when the huge trucks went
We finally arrived in Salinas and the main hotel (hotel
closed, went to another hotel (no name). They said they had a hot shower,
but they did
not. We had to make our own shower with our solar shower. It
has been at least three days since any of us had a shower and we were
We ate dinner with a party of about 30. They were celebrating a
graduation. The custom is to bring a gift, when you arrive you get
a pile of confetti put in your hair. There was confetti
everywhere. Some how Tim managed to get the stuff all over his
fleece pants too. Dinner for 5 bolivianos. pretty good.
47 km dirt
Salinas. Rest day. Tim pretty much rested his
back, I know these things take a long time to heal, it may be weeks
until he feels better. Fritz and I visited every store in town in
search of chocolate. We found some, enough for Fritz's ride
through the Salar.
This town like many towns in Bolivia, looks like
it has seen better days. The buildings were once painted, there
was once a road into town, now it is dirt, they use to have electricity
here now they have solar power. The hotel we are staying at does
not even have a name, it is about 3 blocks east of the plaza. It
is run by an older women and she has two young women as assistants.
They feed the local salt mine workers and serve beer to all the men who
like to drink after work, and it appear that a lot of them drink too
much. The women here serve some of the best food I have had in Bolivia. Soups
with vegetables and creative dishes with potatoes and pasta.
Salinas - Middle of the Salar. Finally we are
going to make into the Salar today. But first we had to go around
the Volcano south of town. We rode south of town and when we came to the
fork in the road we took the left fork. This took us over a
low pass and on into the Salar. We asked direction in the little
town at the edge of the Salar. We were told that Isla de Pescador
(Fisherman Island) did not have anyone there but Isla Incahuasi had a
restaurant and small hotel. We rode into the Salar for 2
kilometers and then rode south towards Isla Incahuasi. We stopped
for the night in the middle of the Salar.
When we stopped to camp it
was sunny, warm, and calm. Tim had a flat front tire. After
we made dinner the wind came up in an instant and suddenly we had gale
force winds. I thought our tent poles were going to break.
Fritz's tent was flattened to the ground and he had to tie it to his
bicycle so it would remain upright. The wind did not stop until
sometime around midnight.
55 km (25 km on the Salar)
Salar - Isla Incahuasi. Repaired the flat tire
and then the side wall of the tire blew out. I did not like that
tire anyway. Luckily we had a spare tire with us. It is a
skinny tire so we decided to put it on my rear wheel. After
changing tires two more time we were ready to roll. Not 5
kilometers down the Salar, Tim had another flat, this time on the rear.
He pulled a thorn out of his rear tire. I think it was a record 4 flat
tire changes, all on Tim's bike.
We arrived at the cactus studded island of Incahuasi with a huge appetite.
It turned out that the food for the island did not arrive when it was
suppose to. Consequently, there was barely any food on the island.
Tour groups came to visit but they all had their own food with them.
After hours of waiting we had a simple meal of rice soap and noodles.
Luckily for us she had any food at all. We were all still hungry
after we ate. Robert a tourist was not hungry so he gave us his
food, ah that topped us all off.
In the evening a jeep pulled up to
the island with a couple of bikes on top. Martin and Isakson from
Basque, (north of Spain) arrived from San Pedro de Atacama. They
decided to ride with us across the Salar and on to Uyuni. When
they pulled their bikes off the truck Martin noticed that he had a
broken spoke. Tim said he would fix it in the morning.
Isla Incahuasi - Salt Hotel. First thing this
morning Tim is fixing a broken spoke. He had all his tools out and
everyone crowded around to see what Tim was doing. We packed up
and started east across the Salar towards the Salt Hotel. We
covered the 70 km in 2.5 hours. It was some of the easiest riding
we have done on the whole trip, we also had a tailwind that pushed us
We sat on the windless side of the Salt hotel, we asked if we could
camp there, they said yes, at no cost except it cost 5 bolivianos to use
the toilet. They had two little girls who were into everything.
They particularly liked Fritz who let them in his tent. Martin and
Tim, both being school teachers, drew the line and kept them out of
their tents. The salt hotel was interesting, the blocks, seats,
beds, and tables were all made of salt. I think it cost US $15 per
person to stay there.
Salt Hotel - Uyuni. We were told it was 20 km to
the edge of the Salar but it actually was only 10 km. We rode
through the town of Colchani and then turned south towards Uyuni.
The road was washboard, for the most part we rode on the road next to
the main highway. It was a bit sandy but much better than the
highway. The closer we got to Uyuni the sandier it got.
stayed in Hostel Marthi. We had a room with one large bed and a
private shower for 60 Bolivianos. Fritz got the best deal, he paid
15 bolivianos for a room without a bath. It was nice, ground
floor, a place to do laundry, and when the water worked a great hot
Uyuni. Started cleaning the endless supply of
dirty clothes, pans, and gear. The water shut off at about 11:30,
so showers were missed and may dirty articles remained. We found a
nice restaurant that served menu of the day for 7 bolivianos as opposed
to the tourist restaurants that charge an arm and a leg for a pizza (60
boliviano for family size, more like Tim size).
Martin and Isakson
plan on riding to Potosi from here. Fritz plans to go to San Pedro
Atacama and we plan to take the train from here to Villazon, the border
Uyuni. Tim spent a good 4 hours at the internet
cafe today. I wandered around the market, a good market with just
about everything. We noticed that a protest in town started this
morning. At first it was quiet and then the protesters started
increasing in size. The guy who runs the internet cafe explained
that the protesters were miners. These miners mine the borax in
the area. The borax is sent to Chile by rail to be processed.
Then it is sent back to Bolivia processed and more expensive. The
miners want the processing to be done here in Bolivia, so they stopped
the train and buses in the area.
This protest is suppose to last two
days. Great, we were planning to leave tomorrow for Villazon, on
the night train. When I went to the train station they had posted
a sign saying that service had been interrupted. No, I want to
leave, I went to the bus station and the next bus in the direction of
the border leaves tomorrow at 6 am. It is probably blocked too.
There are no buses from here directly to Villazon, they all go through
Potosi and add an extra 10 hours to travel time.
I am upset, Tim would rather stay anyway. We go out to dinner
with the Basques and Fritz. We meet another German, Andy, at the
restaurant. He is cycling too. Isakson is not feeling well,
she has a terrible cough and sore throat.
Uyuni - Villazon. Martin and Isakson have decided
to leave for Potosi. I will miss them immensely. They have
certainly improved my spanish these last couple of days. Fritz
decides to stay another day. He may have trouble because he wants
to follow the railroad tracks and they are most likely blocked. As
we walk down the main road we see protesters marching again. As
they go by someone throws a quarter stick of dynamite in the road, boom,
wow, it was a huge explosion, definitely not a firecracker. These
guys are serious.
We went to the train station and there was a new
sign that said the train would be leaving at midnight. Yeah, we are out
of here. I bought two tickets for the night train. Tim was
sad to leave, I just want to keep moving.
Villazon. The train finally left the train
station at about 12:30 am. We had nice seats with plenty of room.
They took our bikes and all out bags at no extra cost, that was nice.
I had a great view out the window, it was practically a full moon and I
could see everything. I am not a good sleeper on these kind of
trips so at least I had something to look at.
We arrived in Tupiza
around 7:30 in the morning. The area reminded me of Sedona,
Arizona with a beautiful rocky landscape. This area is famous for
the demise of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They robbed a
train close to here and were run down and killed. We might as well
be in the American Southwest, arid, farming by irrigation and high
We had breakfast on the train, it was included with our ticket.
We retrieved our bikes from baggage and set off looking for a hotel.
I was feeling awful, I thought it was because I did not get much sleep
We decided to stay at Hostel Buena Vista, just down the road from the
train station, it has a nice big room, shared hot shower, and is 50
bolivianos per night.
We took a short nap when we arrived and I woke up feeling very ill.
I had a monster head ache and upset stomach. Two hours later I was
vomiting and my head was swimming in pain. I slept to 5:00 pm.
We ate and then back to bed. Every time we travel via bus or in
this case train we always lose a day. I do not know how other
travelers do it. We met some people from England and France who
were jumping on a bus to Salta after the train. It takes 7 hours
to get to Salta from here. Hardened travelers I guess.
Villazon. Sunday a rest day. We will work
on the web page and book today. I am feeling better too.
for the day: Bikes are just tools for self expression.
Villazon. A day to pack and look for any money that is
stuffed in a pocket, more than once I have found money from a country
after I have crossed the border. This border is packed with little
stores. They sell mostly clothes, shoes, and candy. I spoke
with a women who works in a beautician shop and she said in years past,
before the peso crash, Argentineans would come over and by the most
expensive items, now they can not afford them. The exchange rate
in the casa de cambio is 2.95 pesos to the dollar before December 2001
the Peso was equal (pegged) to the dollar.
Good bye Bolivia, Hello
Argentina. I am a bit sad that I did not see more of this country,
like Potosi and Sucre, but I will have to come back again. I
predict that there will be much unrest in this country for years to
come, there is to much of a difference between the very wealthy and the
very poor. I just hope that the changes that lie ahead for Bolivia
are peaceful ones.