A 165km/100 mile day

Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, March 2, 2013

We were on the road fairly early and knew that we would have a long day ahead. We hoped to make it to Oruro, which was a town 160km away. We packed up and carried all of our bags back down the four flights of stairs and hit the road. We were really pleased that we had found a nice place to stay, with friendly people and had a good meal for dinner, it went a long way to improving our impressions of Bolivian people.

The road was mainly flat, but with a few good rolling hills to keep us from getting to our destination too fast. The road from La Paz to Oruro was undergoing major construction, and a new road was being built, to allow two lanes of traffic to go in both directions. At many points we made our way over to the new road, which was as smooth as an airport runway and we were happy to speed down it side by side.  As there were no cars on the new road we didn't have to worry about staying on the narrow shoulder like we normally do and could whizz down the middle. In total, we probably spent half of the day on the new road, which we had to ourselves. It seemed strange that we had been warned by four sets of cycle tourists that this road would be so bad and were advised a few times to get a bus or train to Oruro.  Compared to a lot of the roads we have had in Peru recently, this is the best road we have cycled on for a long time.

Even when we were on the main road, the traffic was fairly light and gave us as much room as they could as they passed us. We had room on the hard shoulder and rarely had to go on to the actual road with the traffic. We hoped that the road kept up for a long time in Bolivia, and didn't deteriorate too much as it got further away from La Paz.

We stopped numerous times for snacks, we had roasted chicken and chips from a street stall vendor and then munched our way through many Saltinas, as the day wore on. Saltinas are a Bolivian fast food, they are cooked and then stored on a warming plate, to be served as soon as they are ordered. They are little pastry pasties, filled with veggies, usually potatoes, onion, carrot, peas, with herbs and either chicken or beef, sometimes with a slice of egg or an olive. They are similar to a Cornish Pasty but they are quite saucy and you have to watch out for dripping the tomato or herb sauce down your t-shirt. They are delicious, different every time,cost between 2.5 – 4 Bolivianos (30-50cents or 25-40pence) and are instantly ready to eat as soon as you order them. Kory and I took plenty for the long day of cycling and stopped frequently to devour them. We also had bread rolls and tomatoes, which helped to keep us well fuelled for our long day.

As we cycled towards Oruro the clouds were grey and we could see lightening on the horizon. We hoped that we would dodge the rain, as the weather had been great all day, with blue skies, no wind and a lovely warm sun. We were at almost 4000m above sea level, so the sun was not too hot or humid. For Kory and I it was the perfect temperature, we weren't hot and sweaty, there weren't any biting insects that you get in the hotter climates and we weren't affected by the high altitude. Although we cycled towards the town for about an hour, the rain seemed to be moving in the other direction at the same speed. We arrived into Oruro, to wet, muddy roads but no rain or thunder and lightening. We hadn't realised that the city was so big, with a population of 260,000, and it took us a long time to cycle through the streets to the centre. We finally arrived to a hotel that was recommended by the Lonely Planet, which after all of the problems yesterday, we thought was a good idea. The young man was fairly friendly and happy for us to leave our bikes locked up in his garage, rather than having to carry them up 3 flights of stairs to the room. The room couldn't have had a more 1950s feel, if they had specifically decorated it with a 50s theme. The bathroom was also of that era, with a matching pink bathroom suite and bidet.

We wondered along one of the main roads, looking for some food to fuel our weary bodies and tired muscles. We came across a small restaurant, which really took us by suprise. It had a clean, cool vibe, with Elton John playing at a normal volume (they usually have music playing way too loudly, so it feels more like a nightclub, or else have football playing loudly on the TV), the waiters were smartly dressed and attentive, it was very modern feeling. It turned out that it was a steak house, which brought your meat to you on a big BBQ plate, which you could leave on the sizzling plate for as long as you wanted. It came with as much salad as you wanted from the salad buffet and chips and puréed rice, with cheese. It was probably the best meal that we have had for a long time, definitely the best service we have received on the whole trip, and only cost $5 or 3 GBR. It was a surprise as we had such low expectations and a real treat to complete our difficult but enjoyable day. We walked back to the hotel pleasantly stuffed!!
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Karen on

YEAH for good food!

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