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Old 03-16-2013, 09:46 AM   #166
alison's wanderland OP
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Back to the program: Bolivia: going Down and getting Out.

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I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave Bolivia without it taking me down first.

I should have known when the woman who worked at the hostel asked, “Where are you heading?”
“Chile,” we responded with happiness filling in the space around that one word.
“That’s a good road, as long as it’s not raining.”
Really? Why did she have to say that? What is it with women parting gifts of such promonitive words? And why did we decide to visit Bolivia during the rainy season?
After having dismantled our bikes yet again that morning in the courtesy of the courtyard of the hostel, we left late that afternoon with the idea of riding as far as we can until sunset and setting up in our tents in the landscapes of Bolivia. Our bikes loaded with a projected 5 days of water and food for what we thought it would take to get through the Lagunas route in the Eduardo Reserve. Trying to lighten our load for the endeavor, we left with more than we had hoped.



The sun was shining as we made our final stop to top off with gasoline, an endeavor that took more negotiation and multiple stations to fulfill. It was not more than 20 km down the road when the forecasted rain fell, slickening the red tierra beneath our tires, potholes now filled with liquid projectile.

The days proceeding Uyuni were alive with music, dancing, and being sprayed with water in celebration of Carnaval. The kids of one village I stopped at to buy gasoline from local tienda out of a 10L can, were kind enough to greet me at the one lane entrance with water guns, aiming for my face (I was smart enough at this point to keep my face shield down) and yelling “tourista!” with exuberance as he hit his target. Yet another left me with a crack as he threw rocks. I wish I had stocked up on water balloons I could have thrown back, but it would have been out of anger rather than festivity. I just wanted out of there.





Back on the muddy road out of Bolivia, the rain continued, as did the parade of bad 4x4 drivers. The elevated lane and a half road gathered all the water it could hold and wept the rest. A Landcrusier passes, migrating to his right hand side and allowing me space to continue on the hard packed tierra. I see another driver in the distance and this one does not give the same space. He passes, aiming for the puddles, mud spraying my suit with Jackson Pollock precision, and I can imagine the driver, an older version of the kids with waterguns, yelling “tourista!” I try to wipe the dirt from my shield as the rain is not strong enough to wash it off. Another truck approaches on the horizon and I move to the right to give him space as he passes since he does not have the courtesy to do the same. Unfortunately, my tires entered the soft squishiness of newly formed mud. Momentarily thankful for the knobby front tire I put on, I felt it grip the mess below, but the mess was not able to provide grip back. It was more like a slingshot sending me away from itself, saying this is not the place for you or your motorcycle. I arched to the left, my tires looking for any ground to steady itself, I am going down… the instability I held onto wobbled beneath my hands gave me a glimmer of hope, no I’m not, I’m not! But the weight of a loaded machine won and over-turned the idea…I am going down. I released the bike as it spun around, tires pointing in the opposite direction, my body summersaulting without enough space for a full rotation. As my helmet connected with a thunk to the ground, I couldn’t help but think, it did its job, how do people ever ride without one of these. Then my shoulder found the earth and legs to follow. The nice thing about the mud is it did give a soft-ish place to land, the stickiness absorbing some of the impact. In the same vein of a circus performer who missed his cue, I used the momentum to gather to my feet and keep moving before the adrenaline wore off. Amidst the stream of inconsiderate tour drivers, a man in a pickup with his family dry inside, stopped to help lift up the KLR, now heavier with stuck mud and turn it around, so I could start it up as I headed in the right direction. With a wave as thank you, I continued down that road to Chile.

















It took a long time to get all that mud off...I think I sold it with some on there still...
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:48 AM   #167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggroll View Post
Hello Allison,
I was reading your travel and heard you had an infection.
My wife told me taking a lot of anti-biotic weaken the area protection


Don't trust this, we are not doctor but my wife had study many years on this
particular subject, may be you can do more search on this.

I hope this will help.
Thank for your writing, I am friend of Frankie (Hong Kong rider with the KLR)


Eggroll
Thanks eggroll...and yes, she's right. Taking anti-biotics weakens your immune system and makes your body more prone to further infection. Just a lot of bad timing to be in Bolivia, where the food is known to be bad, that I was more susceptible to getting sick. Luckily I am better now without having to go to Bolivian hospitals.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:54 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
Excellent! Glad to know you made it! Hope you are having a blast!
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Originally Posted by Scott_PDX View Post
Congratulations on making it to TDF! That's quite an accomplishment, hope you are taking the time to celebrate accordingly .

What's next...ride up Africa?
The whole trip has been superb! Deb (Hewby) and I celebrated the night before ... haven't had too much beer down here, but the wine flows freely in Patagonia.
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Old 03-16-2013, 10:00 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by ONandOFF View Post
I have to agree with this sentiment. There have been times I've wondered why some seem so intent on adopting the gringo culture and have tried explaining that what they have is special particularly in terms of humanity.

Sorry to hear you felt so much like an outsider in Bolivia. I have to wonder what's up there with that. Initially a surprise, I've had the pleasure of feeling more welcomed by the people in other South American countries than back home in the states!

Hope all's going well.
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Originally Posted by Blader54 View Post
Perhaps it is a case of the grass seeming greener on the other side? The Euro-American lifestyle appears to have become the default aspiration for all developing countries. Reminds me of the people I frequently encounter who lament the loss of the sense of community they had in "the old neighborhood" but who were the very same people who moved out of that neighborhood as soon as they had the chance. Maybe Joni Mitchell had it right: you don't know what you've got til it's gone.
After 5 months (really longer in order to save and prepare for the trip) of giving up "gringo" culture, I really am not sure how I will re-assimilate back into the "normal" way of the US.

The only point that I can add, is I saw way more people smiling as they cleaned their dirt floors and sold grown or handmade goods than I have driving their fancy cars to and from consumer-packed picket fence house in traffic congested cities. But, really, to each their own. And that statement shows were my views are skewed.
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:26 PM   #170
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The only point that I can add, is I saw way more people smiling as they cleaned their dirt floors and sold grown or handmade goods than I have driving their fancy cars to and from consumer-packed picket fence house in traffic congested cities. But, really, to each their own. And that statement shows were my views are skewed.
Well put. I think it is the same all over the world.
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:12 AM   #171
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Allison, those photos are awesome! More please...
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Old 03-17-2013, 06:51 AM   #172
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The whole trip has been superb! Deb (Hewby) and I celebrated the night before ... haven't had too much beer down here, but the wine flows freely in Patagonia.
And delicious wine it is too!
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:10 AM   #173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbletron View Post
After 5 months (really longer in order to save and prepare for the trip) of giving up "gringo" culture, I really am not sure how I will re-assimilate back into the "normal" way of the US.

The only point that I can add, is I saw way more people smiling as they cleaned their dirt floors and sold grown or handmade goods than I have driving their fancy cars to and from consumer-packed picket fence house in traffic congested cities. But, really, to each their own. And that statement shows were my views are skewed.
The thing is, home (and the associated culture) is where family is. Were it not for family around here, I would live out the rest of my days in Ecuador. Alas, I'll have to settle for visiting cuando Dios lo permite. It helps that my wife is from Ecuador and we have lots of family and community around to maintain a taste of the culture. Still, there's nothing more invigorating than to experience all the physical and emotional feelings of being a part of it all there.

About going down, sorry it had to happen, but glad you managed to not get hurt. Great reaction to somersalt may be a big factor.

You have some very well composed images in your collection. You have the knack for that. You have a few where you and Deb are stopped, she in front on her bike ready to go; it got me to wondering if you have inter-rider communications to coordinate that.

And what's this about selling it with some of that mud still on there?
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:41 AM   #174
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Peru Interrupted, Pt. 1

It was a welcomed interruption from the constant travel that incited survival mode. Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. After hurrying through northern Peru, I was happy to be meeting a friend in Arequipa. He rented a motorcycle from Peru Motors, and after sorting out issues with his bike as well as mine – pushing the distance in the heat caused my fan to shake itself to death – we were off to enjoy the country for a two-week diversion.

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We opted to visit Chivay first, ascending the 16,000ft pass. The altiplano was probably my favorite road in Peru, even though it was soooo cold.











If riding through a light snow was not enough, some off-roading in mud was an exciting way to kick off the adventure. it took 5 of us to pull the KLR out...luckily there were 3 other motorcyclists passing by to help...







and of course stopping for some alpaca to cross the street...





After sneaking by the $70 soles entrance fee (that no one seems to tell you about), we rode to Canon del Colca, which is bigger than the grand canyon.







Promises of electrical storms detoured us from getting very far that day...unfortunately there is no where good to stay between Chivay and Puno, so we tried to make the best of a situation in Imata. (That story will be omitted since bad weather created bad ideas...)



But eventually a quick stay in Chucuito at Lago Titicaca to warm up and thaw out and recover from the previous nights festivities.





On our way to Cusco, we were re-united with the merry band that helped us on the altiplano... and off again they went to Ushuaia were they came from.





We headed north to Cusco for the night, and i found I liked it more than I thought I would with it being such a big city and all.






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Then off to thru the sacred valley, but not before exploring some farm roads with beautiful views of Cusco...







A night in Pisac to explore the agricultural Ruins:











Up next...Machu Picchu and the finale...
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:22 AM   #175
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Peru Interrupted, Pt. 2

We stayed the night in Ollantaytambo to catch the first train to Machu Picchu in the morning. Our hostel just steps from the park, so we didn't feel the need to climb them.





We preferred to take the train rather than stay in tourist-laden Agua Calientes and enjoyed the sunrise as the train maneuvered on old tracks. First sight of Machu Picchu immersed in mist was still a sight to behold. And I will repeat what so many have said before me, being there is nothing like looking at the photos. To be surrounded with a 360 degree view of impeccable stonework in the center of mountain peaks is an infinitesimal feeling. The magnitude and beauty is hard to capture in just images, but i tried.













After a little deliberation, we decided to hire a guide and was thankful for the historical information he provided. He focused on the theory that Machu Picchu was a University than many pilgrimage to but only few were allowed in. He looked at the two of us gringo giants, standing separately, but having arrived together and said, "To be here, you need three things: Love, Patience, and Personality. The same things you need in any relationship." Oh, how much that little man with a big smile saw. We debated the last word, possibly lost in translation to mean honesty or integrity. Any which way it was solid advice. We left as quietly as we came, the early wake up and altitude helping with a sleepy afternoon.

The days passed quickly, as did the miles of asphalt, dirt, rain and hail, and soon it was time to return to Arequipa for his flight home.









We parted ways with more truths revealed than I would have expected. Or maybe it is the outcome I wasn't fully expecting. We realized out paths, even though they converged for two weeks, were to remain separate in the future. He returns his KLR to the shop and himself to a rooted life in California, whereas I throw a leg over my KLR and continue my nomadic ways, south and unknowing. It was a welcomed and enjoyable interruption. I hope he finds a road better suited for him. As for now, I continue on mine, following my dreams and now making new ones.

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And then we return to our regularly scheduled program...
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Old 03-17-2013, 10:32 AM   #176
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Adventures. That, they wouldn't be, were we to know what would happen.

Quote:
...we tried to make the best of a situation in Imata. (That story will be omitted since bad weather created bad ideas...) ...
I suppose this decision to withhold this experience could be based on either not wanting to bring down readers with a not-so-rosy situation, or perhaps due to not wanting to relive it in your own mind. As a reader who appreciates your opportunity to experience such a journey and hopes to discover his own experience in the area, I figure I should relate that I would be grateful to hear all aspects of your experiences. Life is good, but not all good.

Quote:
He looked at the two of us gringo giants, standing separately, but having arrived together and said, "To be here, you need three things: Love, Patience, and Personality. The same things you need in any relationship." Oh, how much that little man with a big smile saw. We debated the last word, possibly lost in translation to mean honesty or integrity. Any which way it was solid advice.
Do you happen to remember the words he spoke in Spanish?

Those are certainly some key ingredients. Similar outlooks also help if the relationship is to be deep and lasting. As for your revelation, better sooner than later, so as to choose the appropriate path toward individual aspirations.
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:49 PM   #177
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Girls go feral in Chile

We were stopped to the side of a compacted dirt road, tools laid out beside the back wheel, the sound of a chain fallen off had halted any further progress in our destination to Pan de Azucar. Three shiny, big, adventure bikes pull up beside Deb’s fading yellow GS650. It was the Chileans we met at the gas station who told us about camping on the beach at the national park.

The main thing we noticed once we crossed into Chile was that the people were instantly friendlier and helpful. I was so excited to be out of Bolivia, that I almost stopped to kiss the pole that held the sign which read “Bienvenido a Chile” as we rode underneath it. We were actually seen again. Other drivers noticed we were on the road too and instead of looking through us like we were transparent, they waved as we passed by on motorcycles or they flashed their lights in excitement.

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And the other thing we loved: There was lots of free camping. We tuck behind rocks and bushes to hide us from the road and set up camp for the night. It’s also an expensive country, so it became a goal to not pay for any nights accommodations.





As the bikers dismounted their shiny new BMWs, we continued to crouch next to the drive train, our hands covered in grease, kneeling in already dirty suits, not caring about the layers currently being added to it. I was nervous as they stepped closer that they might get a spot of dirt on their pristine boots just by looking at what we were doing. They could see we were in the midst of fixing the problem, and offered what they could… unable to impart any experiential wisdom, they offered tools. If we had needed them, I still would have hesitated touching their newness.

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As we finished up, trying to beat the extinguishing light of a setting sun, we rode to the darkened waves of the beach. Seeing the state we were in just moments before, they kindly invited us to share their campsite and brought back empanadas from the little tienda on the other side of the beach. As I ate the still warm pockets of delicious cheese and camarones, I hoped they didn’t notice how much black dirt was stuck underneath my fingernails. Days of camping and working on the bikes had yet to be scrubbed off.

This became our Chile night after night.



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We succeeded to not pay for accommodations all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. Our days would leisurely begin as the sun rose, a brisk dip if water was nearby, breakfast as we packed our bikes, ride a 150-200km until we found a spot for lunch, ordering empanadas to test which town made them best, then ride until we watched the sun set, finding camp along rivers, under street passes, out in the middle of the desert. Night after night we camped under the stars and their shiny brilliance.


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Old 04-11-2013, 07:12 AM   #178
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I too have enjoyed following along with this and admire your pics. I hope you'll come back and update this when you can. Ulyses R/R was the first I ever followed start to finish, now yours. Thank you.

I am determined to do this myself sooner than later, but am still behind the curve a bit.
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:52 PM   #179
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I too have enjoyed following along with this and admire your pics. I hope you'll come back and update this when you can. Ulyses R/R was the first I ever followed start to finish, now yours. Thank you.

I am determined to do this myself sooner than later, but am still behind the curve a bit.
Thank you... I'm a bit behind, but that is the story of the traveler. I have to admire Ulyses for keeping up with things daily. At least this is giving me something to do while I am back.
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:53 PM   #180
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Argentina: the winds, the chase, and the nearing end.

The motorcyclists who had ridden this road before me all warned about the severe 100 mph cross winds that can pick up tumble weeds, unsuspecting armadillos, and even small motorbikes, then fling them across the barely two lane, treacherous dirt width of the infamous Ruta 40. I had been so cautioned about this experience, that it was not for the faint of heart or riding capabilities, that I wasn't sure I was going to make it past these intense winds to Ushuaia.

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I almost hate to inform everyone of my experience… I rode under blue skies lit by a blissful 65-degree sun, with barely a cloud to promise rain. There were tickles of wind that could barely stir the dried leaves of the plants that lined the ripio.

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The worst of it was the bit of gravel, interrupted by fresh pavement as they haphazardly pieced a new highway beside it. Knowing those a week ahead of me encountered water soaked, gusty days, I thought to myself, could it really be possible? Is this really the same place everyone spoke of? Yes. But one day on either side of an interrupted weather pattern could mean all the difference in riding to the end of the road…



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