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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bolivia... Beauty, Isolation, Roadblocks, Landslides, Dirt, Dirt, Dirt!!!

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

I've a LOT to catch up here, so this post will be a bit different.  I'll paste up some photos with captions to get caught up (if you'd prefer a short video hit this link).  Sorry, internet in this region is spotty at best. Plus, I'd made a commitment to make Bolivia a 'dry' country (from a connection perspective).  Solo travel is special, but with the advent of Facebook, e-mail, Skype, etc, it's easy to forget what it's all about...  That said, greetings from south Bolivia and enjoy!

The general outline from the last couple of weeks is as follows... 

  •   Day 1 - La Paz (through the Death Road and Coroico) to Chulumani
  •   Day 2 - Chulumani to Inquisivi (wanted Independencia, but a landslide had me backtrack to Inquisivi
  •   Day 3 - Inquisivi to Cochabamba
  •   Days 4 through 6 - Cochabamba to/through ToroToro
  •   Day 7 - ToroToro to Mizque
  •   Day 8 - Mizque to Sucre (three nights in Sucre w/ my friend Caroline)
  •   Day 11 - Sucre (through Potosi) to Uyuni (three days in Uyuni exploring)
Wrapping up my time in Valle de la Luna La Paz, Bolivia.
This looked like a Dr. Seuss landscape to me.  Very surreal...  
Bolivia is the land of roadblocks...  Both natural (landslides) and manmade.
Like this example just outside of Chulumani.  The protesters weren't very happy when
I gassed it directly over top of their 'creation'.  I was quite proud of myself however. :)
Typical scene on the Ruta de la Muerte (Death Road) in Bolivia...
Seriously...  How is this considered a main road???  Ruta de la Muerte, Bolivia

Perched precariously on top of a cliff somewhere along the Death Road.  The burned remains of a
bus carcass lays beneath this photo about 2k feet down.  Seems they weren't quite as lucky.  :( 
Whenever people see the bike (and in this case find out I race back home) they
want me to be involved in their culture and festivities.  Here I was asked to be
a co-pilot during a life-size pinewood derby race in Chulumani.  This dude was
the current champion, but I caught him after boozing all day, so his cornering skills
weren't the best...  at all.  We tipped over headed into turn 1.  No trophy that day!
One of the magical dirt roads between Chulumani and Inquisivi...  
And another...  
The first of MANY fairly deep and sketch water crossings...  
Somewhere between Inquisivi and Cochabamba.  The roads were desolate, wild, and stunning in this area. 
Another fine example of the Bolivian countryside...  
Drink it in!!!  
Due to a massive landslide, I was forced to backtrack to Inquisivi.  My original plan was Independencia
to Cochabamba, but ended up being Inquisivi to Cocha.  Amazing riding nonetheless.  
16k+ feet...  Cold as ice!  Literally...  
The only roadblock in almost eight months that has forced me to turn back.  The rest I've found a way
around, or up and over!  I felt deflated, but the alternative route provided equally great roads/scenery
To/through ToroToro Nat'l Park.  This 'main' road somehow turned into a railroad line.  After
scooting along this for approx 25km, a toothless dude stopped me and told me that a
train would be arriving the other direction soon, so I should get the hell off the tracks! 
Interestingly, that was AFTER another toothless dude told me the tracks weren't in use. 
Needless to say, I never saw a train, and the ride was spectacular.  :)
Cerca ToroToro... 
Easy to get lost out here as this is considered a main highway.  ToroToro is one of the
most undiscovered places in all of Bolivia.  I definitely felt that when I was there.   
There is the official Death Road, then there are the thousands of 
other 'death roads' in Bolivia.  This a prime example... 
Selfie @ 16k+ feet!  Can't feel my freaking nose here...  Brrr!!! 
Random road headed from Mizque (beautiful small town north of Sucre)...
Yet another roadblock en route to Sucre.  Six of em in all.  All of which I blasted right through.
Ain't nobody got time fa dat!!!
The road from Mizque to Sucre.  200km of cobblestone.  Rattled my fillings loose,
but provided spectacular scenery and interesting riding conditions.  
TwoMotoKiwis (ADVrider) and my new Aussie, and German friends from Sucre...  
My new Italian friend Enrico.  Been pedaling for four years, and plans on three more!  Wowza...  
Riding with my new German mate Juan (this from Sucre to Uyuni)...
I have grown to LOVE the desert, and the ethereal isolation it provides.  This nearing Uyuni...
Ummm...  no comment.  
The 'other' less visited train graveyard approx 25k north of Uyuni... 
I can see it!  Crested a hill from a dirt road and caught a glimpse of Salar de Uyuni
for the first time.  Something I've wanted to visit for 10+ years...  TrĂ©s cool. 
Pondering life behind those obnoxious goggles.  Either that or trying to slip one out without sharting.
Sorry, I know that's gross, but the food and water in Bolivia aren't the cleanest. 
'Rippin Farts & Breakin Hearts'...  Tour of the Americas 2014' 
Seriously, and I wonder why my tires don't last longer...  :/
Goofing off outside of Uyuni w/ my new amigo Juan.   
Train graveyard just outside of Uyuni... 

Celebrating Juan's bday @ Extreme Fun Pub in Uyuni.  Hope he had a good time.
I did, but had one of the worst hangovers of my entire life this morning. 
Dehydration + 12k altitude + waaaay too many drinks = Ugly

Plans from here are fairly simple, tomorrow we plan to explore the salt all day.  We were going to do that yesterday, but the entire town of Uyuni had run out of petrol until around 4pm.  Plus, I got my third rear puncture of the trip, so spent the remainder of the day repairing that, tinkering with the bike, and spooning on my new front Pirelli MT21.  

In two days, I'll wake up and head out early.  The plan is to head south via Ruta Lagunillas in one day to Laguna Colorada (the red lake).  It will be tough going, but there aren't any hotels before that, and it is incredibly cold at night...  like below zero temps!  From there I continue south into Chile, ultimately parking the bike in San Pedro de Atacama for several days of exploration in/around the Atacama Desert.  

I think that's it for now.  Juan is pressuring me to go grab a beer.  Chat soon amigos!  

~ D

1 comment:

  1. Hi David!! Niiice riding!! I Want to do the same part from Coroico 'till Cochabamba through Inquisivi/Independencia. Can i do this with my VW 71' Beetle? I've done already some roadtrips from south brazil to chile, atacama, santiago, but want to ride to Cuzco in January 2016.