What a day

Trip Start Mar 20, 2011
Trip End Jun 05, 2011

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, April 16, 2011

What a day we had today. We all knew that the border crossing into Bolivia was going to be bad but something much worse was to happen as I shall point out later.

The hotel we stayed at in the wonderful little town of Putre was just wonderful. I was lucky enough to get allocated a large room to myself with two double beds and a massive bathroom with all you could ask for in it.

After a wonderful breakfast of fruit and toast etc a few of us left and headed up the nice little winding road to the main road high up in the mountains. I was not feeling great or full of energy this morning and I think just like everyone else the altitude was getting to me also. I suppose we were 3660 meters way up in the Andes.

The rest of the group went on ahead while I plodded along at about 60mph and stopped to take photos etc. We had a long road ahead with a slow border crossing in between before we could reach La Paz. As there was no petrol available at Putre I decided to take it easy just in case there is no garage en route.

I stopped a number of times when I saw Lama's at the side of the road. These wonderful animals are very much like big cats. They are very curious animals and if you simply just sit there and watch them for a while they will eventually come over and investigate what you are doing. At first they are a bit nervous but once they realize you are no danger to them they are your best friend. They love you to scratch their neck and under their chins just like a cat does. They are just big softies.

Soon im back on my way and again plodding along at 60. It feels just so nice to be on smooth tar mat again after all those hundreds of miles on those stony old dirt roads. Then just as I was thinking about the smoothness the tar mat ended and we were onto bumpy old dirt roads yet again. Trucks were flying past me making so much dust that it was impossible to see and one just had to go slow into the dusty air and hope for the best.

The mountains all around us were covered in snow and it looked just beautiful. Outside temp was also cold but I was rather surprised to notice that the lakes and some ponds were all iced over. It must be colder than I thought it was.

I went past a very large lake which was as still and as smooth as glass. The reflection shots of the snow capped mountains were just fantastic.

As I plodded along more bikes came screaming past me at speed. Most of the other riders never even take photos of the scenery or places they stay. For me, photos are a must.

A few miles after the lake I came across a large like office place in the middle of nowhere which was guarded by police and there was quite a number of trucks waiting to be searched by them. They simply waved me through and on I went with my journey. About 2 miles further there stood a sign saying "Bolivia". All sorts went through my mind. Was I meant to stop at that last office block and get signed out of Chile? Anyway I continued and finally came to the Bolivian customs office and border control. It was queue after queue at this place. the fumes from trucks and the dust was just unbelievable. The place was a right dump and just like most places in Bolivia. The border control for vehicles was even located inside a container. The chap inside had some of the oldest equipment I have seen in years. He even had a typewriter on his desk.

Finally through after about 3 hours we leave the border crossing area and head for the petrol station. As we a park up there by the pump we are told they have no petrol at the pump so on we go towards La Paz.

Its a long boring road to La Paz and I simply just plod along watching my fuel as I go. I heard there was a petrol station about 100km or so before our destination so I was not too worried. I had about half a tank of fuel and also a 5 ltr can on the back of my bike but getting that off was a lot of work. As I plod along at 60mph the fuel gauge is getting lower and lower and all im hoping for is a petrol station. I really was not in the mood to unclip all the stuff on my bike just to get the fuel can out.

Finally the gauge is showing reserve at 195miles so I know I have about 50miles left in the tank. I pass through a few dirty towns en route but no sign of any petrol stations. Finally  I arrive into Ayo Ayo and there I catch up with some of the gang. They are inside a shop trying to get a coffee. With no coffee available its into the next and the next but there was just nowhere in this dirty town where we could find any coffee or tea. What a poor show.

We finally found a fuel station and filled our tanks and headed off in the direction of La Paz.

This road was hell and full of every kind of junk car and truck one can imagine. We were getting past them ok but suddenly there was a long line of trucks and all at a complete standstill. Was it the police checking them I wondered. I led the team of 5 alongside all these trucks and then realized we were a the front of the line and were now surrounded by armed police and army. what the hell was gong on I wondered. There was about 1000 police officers with guns and also on motorcycles. Then I seen what was going on. There was a massive protest about government pay or something and they had blocked the road ahead. About another 10 bikers mainly on Harley's arrived and said they were going into town another route and that we could follow them if we wanted. (Video link yoink234@hotmail.co.uk )
Sure enough we did but we all got a bit lost and finally ended up by a dirty muddy river with a small bridge and a dirty housing estate over the other side. As we sat chatting and wondering how to get into the city we noticed a group of youngsters walking towards us. They were picking up stones as they walked. "Lets get the hell out of here" I shouted. Even the Harley riders sped off with us. We stopped about 500 yards from the youngsters and noticed one biker stayed there and was chatting to them. They then called us over and pointed to the river. Once they reailzed we were not here to cause any trouble they began to help us.They were saying we need to cross the river. Finally John took his V Strom Suzuki through the muddy water and then away I went. It was simple and soon the whole gang was over.

We headed along this dirty dusty road and finally got onto the main road into La Paz. What a hell road this was. It was just full of mini bus taxis and reminded me so much of Johannesburg. The standard of driving was just terrible. One of the Harley riders came up and offered to show us into the city. We seemed to go for miles on this two lane duel carriageway and finally we ended up in the city. Here there was more demonstrations and we had to sneak around all the back streets and just about got knocked off on every corner.

With the protest going on we decided to give up and simply park up the bikes. Just then Nick and loads of other bikes came past and so we followed them. It was a hell ride through this terrible city where no one cares how they drive or where they drive. There must be more mini-bus taxis in this city than in the whole of Argentina. All you can hear is horns going at each other non stop and cars and these annoying taxis trying to push their way around the city. Its just a hell city!!!!! One way streets mean nothing and anyone simply drives up or down any street regardless of one way or not.

Finally we found the hotel and I checked in and went straight to the room to change out of my smelly sweaty clothes. Here in the room was a fridge and of course it had chocolates and coke in it so guess what I had as soon as I sat down???;-) This hotel must be the best hotel we have been in so far. Its just fantastic although the main meals are about the size of my cats dinner..............might need to go find a chippyWinking smile emoticon

 Hell only knows how we are going to get out of this city tomorrow. We have just heard that there are going to be even more protests and street closures tomorrow. Watch this space.

That's all the news today

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