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Old 03-12-2013, 01:30 PM   #132
porkandcorn OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Portland, Oregon
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tarija, bolivia to villamontes, bolivia to santa, cruz bolivia

tarija, bolivia to villamontes, bolivia

monday, march 11, 2013

thanks everyone for you birthday wishes. feliz cumpleaņos para mi!

tarija to villamontes by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i left the hotel fairly early, wondering how many hours the mountain crossing would take. the hotel staff was ecstatic about my stay, and the postcards that i gave each of them. we took photos with about 9 different cameras, among them my own. they were extremely nice people and i was happy to put a smile on their faces with my unlikely stay.

staff from hotel victoria, tarija, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

today was another hard-fought 250km-day. however, the roads were in better condition than the previous day. there were even a few brief sections of random, perfect pavement, which made absolutely no sense in the context of the mountain roads. i definitely wore down the sides of my tires - probably a thousand hairpin turns were navigated, and a thousand cows, pigs, horses, dogs and chickens were avoided. the roads were fun, and the scenery today looked and smelled more like jungle than previous days.

no more pavement, north of tarija, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

river view, caņon de pilcomaya, route 11, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

after a while, my neck, back and shoulders were burning from the endless curves. it was a fairly uneventful day, and i managed to take a few photos without the bike falling over. i was sideswiped by a semi - he grazed my road cases, even after i courteously moved out of his path. they will run you over and not think twice about it if you don't get out of the way. i showed him what an extended middle finger looks like, and he deserved to know.

vista, route 11, boliva by porkandcorn, on Flickr

typical view, route 11, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

entre rios, bolivia was my halfway point. had a very tasty steak, with a fried egg on top as is customary here and in other south american countries. i also put some coolant in the bike - the level was getting low. the people in this town where very, very friendly and accommodating. yes, very exciting. hey, i can't cross the andes every day!

restaurante, entre rios, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

restaurante san martin, entre rios, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

there was an interesting canyon just before i arrived at my target for the day. some sections were so narrow that i required men at posts along the road to control opposing traffic by CB radio. apparently, motos don't count, because both i and a car were surprised to encounter each other around one of the curves.

rocks, caņon de pilcomaya, route 11, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

wall of rock, caņon de pilcomaya, route 11, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

overhang, caņon de pilcomaya, route 11, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

raging river, caņon de pilcomaya, route 11, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

villamontes is a small river town. kind of a dump. not much to do or see, but i drove around for 20 minutes and finally found a hotel with air conditioning (but no wifi). it's humid here, and there are mosquitos. it's a pretty lavish birthday suite - i'm thinking 4-star. (if the scale was 1-50). but the moto is secure and the mattress doesn't have bugs (i check them all.)

seņor parrot, hotel villamontes, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

luxury birthday suite 2, hotel villamontes, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

it's 9:30pm but it feels like midnight. going to sleep early tonight… i'm cashed out from the last 3 days of riding. i've now spent 37 interesting years on this planet earth.


villamontes, bolivia to santa cruz, bolivia

tuesday, march 12, 2013

villamontes to santa cruz by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i decided to celebrate my birthday today, because villamontes left very, very much to be desired. i woke up at 7:00am, itching to leave for santa cruz, bolivia.

good beer, villamontes, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

today's ride was an extremely boring affair. a more or less straight shot north. 450km of humid, parched, sun-baked savanna. as i went north, the heat, humidity, and especially wind, increased. the summer sun is baking the amazon basin to a crisp, and the wind blows it all here. there was no vista to be had the entire day - i was locked in on both sides by trees and forests that lapped right up to the road. no change in elevation - about 900 meters all day. a steady stream of cows, dogs, and sheep wandered about the road and roadsides, occasionally wondering why i was intruding on the areas in which they decided to stand, possibly sleep. i was kind, but i think the truck drivers that followed would not be so kind. there was also a steady steam of animal carnage all day. i wanted to warn the animals, but they don't speak spanish, portugues, english, or motorcycle horn.

cows, route 11, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

to be honest, i have to admit some uneasiness here in bolivia. i had received mixed reviews from other motorcyclists, other travelers whom i've met along the way. even my bolivian host, whom i'm about to meet for dinner tonight, warned me out of concern not to "not trust 90% of the people i meet here." there must be reasons for this. and although everyone i have had personal contact with so far has been very nice, i still maintain a certain trepidation.

i guess this is what prejudice is - having no experience, but having yet having an opinion. and it is amazing that when you have no experience to base your opinions on, how little it takes from others to help you build that prejudice. it takes a very strong willed-individual to resist this information. i'm am not as strong-willed as i would prefer to be. i can see why racism, xenophobia, and classism exists, based on what little it takes to affect pre-judgement of persons, places, or entire cultures.

when i ride, i wave at everyone. i'm forcing myself to be the consummate traveler. but in contrast with other countries i've visited so far, most don't wave back. i'm met with hollow stares from dark, confused, faces. the eyes are eerie and piercing. me on my moto, even passing quickly at speed, seems a very strange thing for them. entire towns watch me pass through, necks turning heads, eyes following further. all activity seems to stop for that moment. out of curiosity, i watch them watch me. sometimes, i get angry and wonder why they don't have something better to do. other times, i laugh and smile, willfully accepting my status as 'circus freak show.' even the small children, toddlers know that i am not a normal thing, and they stare too. i get the feeling that people's lives here are very hard.

last night, at the hotel, the 28-year old son of the hotel owner offered to accompany me to dinner when i mentioned to them it was my birthday. i held a slight distrust of him from the start, as his deep-set eyes, and my pre-education mandated. but willfully accepted the otherwise kind offer. we went to his favorite neighborhood grill. the conversation was courteous (en espaņol), but his eyes darted around aggressively at those in attendance, and those arriving - like he shared this deep distrust as well. i smiled, asked lots of questions. he responded kindly. but there was a divide between us. the same divide i have felt since arriving here.

rolando and birthday boy, villamontes, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

some of that may be that i'm riding around on a gilded stallion. my motorcycle is probably worth more than the entirety of most of the towns i'm riding through. that puts me at an immediate disadvantage for trying to connect with people. at times i feel guilty for my success, for my luck in being born in the USA, and for my ability to wander the continent for 4 months without working. i keep seeing people walking the same roads that i am riding at 130kph. they are walking with 100 pounds on there back from one pueblo to the next, a seemingly impossible journey from my perspective zipping by. what could i possibly have in common with them, in order to connect on a basic level? nothing, other than the fact that we are all humans.

and now i'm in this oasis, los tajibos hotel, immune for the moment from the un-ease that i've been feeling. at times in the past weeks, i pondered leaving bolivia off my schedule. and it's for this reason alone that i most needed to come here. i want to put my full effort into fighting the prejudice that i came here with. i want to find that impossible connection.

the real birthday suite, hotel los tajibos, santa cruz, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

piscina, hotel los tajibos, santa cruz, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

porkandcorn screwed with this post 03-13-2013 at 07:42 AM
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