South America by Geezer

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RexBuck, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,269
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Take your time RB and enjoy the ride, and if you can sneak us a peak at what your doing every now and then, that will be good. Just don't get another haircut like the last one. :rofl
  2. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    Enjoying your report and pics, the ones from Machu Pichu where really nice. We are heading to Tierra del fuego in the fall, kick off from Victoria, BC is October 1st.

    Can`t wait.
  3. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada

    LOL - I did get another haircut . . . it was a lot better than the last one but no pics. Had a lady do it who was at least tall enough to see the top of my head when I was sitting. Different perspective I guess. :lol3
  4. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Hey ac_elite, thanks for joining in and glad you are enjoying. You are going to have a wonderful time seeing this great part of the world. Have a good trip!
  5. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Was originally planning on staying here for another couple of nights and get caught up with the housekeeping stuff I needed. But, when I found the hotel only had internet on one crappy computer in the lobby and no WiFi, it was a no-go and back on the road. It is amazing how dependent we travelers become on technology like WiFi. From doing these ride reports (which includes a lot of time to upload pictures - not even talking about videos) to route planning to looking after personal stuff, it becomes our umbilical cord and watch out to the establishment who doesn't provide a decent plug-in.

    Colca Canyon is a remarkable sight and is billed as twice as deep as the Grand Canyon – which technically it is, from the river at the bottom of the canyon to the top of the adjoining mountains. OK, it ain't the Grand Canyon but this canyon has its own beauty and I really enjoyed being there. One of the big draws here is to see the Andean Çondors who nest on the sides of the canyon.

    One of the guides at the hotel got me some info about the road in Colca Canyon. At first the advice was to detour to the other side because of a wash out but then we found that the main road was now open. The advice also was to not take the road past the town of Carbanaconde as that road becomes quite remote and is known to have some decent slides and wash outs. Apparently, the rumor goes, a group of bikers went that way and one guy lost his bike in one of the washouts. Doesn't take that much to convince me.

    Decent road to the next town that you have to detour through because of a washout on the main road below it. Dirt road after that was generally good except the few slides and washouts to cross. The bulk of this little slide is out of sight around the corner



    [​IMG]


    And this little stream flowed down the road for a hundred feet or so - pretty good volume of water pushed a bunch of sand, gravel and rocks onto the road


    [​IMG]


    They even bored a hole through this mountain to bypass the old road you can barely see on the right clinging to the mountain where it hasn't already fallen off. Not good for the Tour Bus industry . . .


    [​IMG]



    Continue on along this spectacular canyon.



    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


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    [​IMG]


    Arrive at the lookout where the Condors nest to try and get a glimpse of one of those magnificent birds. Didn’t happen. Not only didn’t see any birds but fog started rolling up from the canyon floor quickly blotting out any chance of seeing squat. They are down there somewhere.


    [​IMG]



    Headed to Carbanaconde and the road turns into a beautiful paved road with perfect pavement . . . and no traffic. Evidenced by the relaxed nature of Junior here seeming quite comfortable having lunch in the middle of the road.


    [​IMG]


    Came around a corner and notice a bird flying around. Well, I’ll be, I did get to see a Condor after all – kind of far away but there it was. These are supposed to be the second largest birds in the world and larger than Bald Eagles (which if any of you have seen one up close, are frickin huge) and is the national bird of a whole passel of South American countries. It ain't much but it's all I got.


    [​IMG]


    I’d heard from some other travelers that the road past Carbanaconde was open so I thought I’d go see what it was like. The pavement dumps me onto dirt just before Carbanaconde and the road was generally decent. It was pretty well all dirt so the hard rain last night created a little mud with the odd slimy section. As I gained altitude the slimy sections got longer and rattier. The strangest thing with this road is that there were no vehicles on it. I never came across any other vehicle the whole time I was on it. Creepy! Started to remind me of that road I was on a couple of days ago to the bridge out. Nothing.

    After about 30 km and still climbing and the mud getting a little slicker, I’m thinking I have another 150 -200km of this with a really remote section yet to come – this section was feeling pretty remote.

    Pretty up there though



    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    I’m thinking I had to cross a 16,000 foot pass to get to Chivay and this road must get pretty high itself to get over the top which could mean all sorts of weird conditions. Combine that with the admonitions and rumors from the locals and I decided it was wise to stick to the original plan. So, after 30 km I decided to head back to Chivay and over the big hill and then down to Arequipa.

    Great ride up the hill. Little foggy at the top and then wandered along the altiplano trying to avoid Alpacas, sheep and dogs. One of the many large flocks of Alpaca on the Altiplano

    [​IMG]


    Back on the main highway and get into spurts of fog. Make good time though.


    Into Arequipa. Holy Crap! This is a big city. Wasn’t expecting that. Had the name of a hostel and headed for that. It was closed! Rats! Look around, there are tons of places – just need to find a place to park to check them out.

    Finally, notice Casa Andina on my GPS list which I remembered seeing somewhere. Very scientific. Pull up and it’s a pretty deluxe place. They tell me they are all out of regular rooms but have a “Superior Room” for 450 Soles. Uhh, no thanks. When I turn around, they dropped it to 390. Still more than I want. Finally say they have some other rooms “downstairs” for 200 soles. OK, I’m listening now.
    Take me down and show me three rooms . . . I thought you didn’t have any regular rooms? Then 190 . . . they are 90% full, not down here. The room was quite decent and very deluxe for me.

    Gotta note here that I am getting more comfortable riding in big cities. I have always gone out of my way to avoid cities as the traffic scares the bejesus out of me - North America also. Now they seem pretty straight forward – you really have to pay attention but I guess I’ve developed a better sense for city traffic. I seem to swear less.
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  6. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,269
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Great update and pictures RB. The vistas are magnificent. Well done.:clap
  7. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,014
    Location:
    The Shenandoah valley of Virginia
    Wow, I'm very impressed with Colca Canyon! Great job of relating how impressive it is. That's too bad about the road getting scary. It looks like it would be a super ride, if the conditions were good, to keep going where you turned back and continue on through the town of Majes, then take the Panamericana to Arequipa. That actually would be a shorter distance than turning back, too. Well, it was awesome where you went, and I bet retracing your steps in reverse was like riding a new road! Glad you're getting more comfy with city traffic. That's particularly good now as I see that you've actually been in Buenos Aires for the last day or so. Dios lo acompañe.
  8. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Got some routine stuff done, laundry, maintenance on the bike and above all, planning. My planning for this trip has been to figure out what I will do tomorrow and maybe an idea for a couple of days. So, long storey short, I prety well have my head up my ass most of the time. My long term plan pretty well consists of "Go South" and, I agreed with certain people to be home mid-April.

    Now I start looking at the calendar and realize I have only about 3 weeks left for my self imposed deadline of shipping from Buenos Aires around the first of April that will give me time to see family in California and get home by mid-April. That’s three weeks to see the rest of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. I’m not going to be taking a lot of sights in. A bit disappointing as I'll just be glossing over those countries.

    Looking back, I spent a lot more time in Colombia and Peru than I had intended – and still didn’t get to a lot of things in both countries. I don't regret the extra time in the least. I just have to figure out a way to come back here some day and pick up where I left off. :csm

    Looking around Arequipa, they have a nice Plaza that, like many other Latin American cities has a street set up as a mall with pedestrian only use.


    [​IMG]


    Of course you know there is a tourist component when you start to see some of the familiar fast food names. Here, they squeezed all four into one building.



    [​IMG]


    Went down to the Plaza for dinner one night and had this pork. Excellent.


    [​IMG]



    The restaurant was kind of ratty, but they had a great location and a very pleasant view over the Plaza.



    [​IMG]


    The only detraction was that there was a stop light on the corner right below the restaurant. Everybody in Peru honks their horns all the time . . . particularly the taxis . . . particularly if they aren't moving. The light can be red and they are still beeping away. Had to take a couple of deep breaths and have another beer as I really felt the need to go down there and go postal on a few of those bastages.


    The Plaza at night looking at the Cathedral.


    [​IMG]


    A couple of pics of the streets in the area. Seem to be pretty old buildings that have been nicely cared for.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I ran across these guys erecting a scaffolding that I thought was so typical. "OK, now I can push the telephone cable over with my foot and I'll just push hard on the scaffold and it'l just jam that 220 wire over - no problem - insulation should be ok" . . . I waited around for some fireworks that never materialized - would have been spectacular.



    [​IMG]


    Lunch was this outstanding sausage sandwich. The shake was good but they take the term "milk shake" literally as they are mostly milk.


    [​IMG]


    Had dinner in the hotel again tonight – had alpaca with a nice sauce.



    [​IMG]



    I was the last one in the restaurant and start chatting with the waitress. She trying to learn English and so we’d speak English for awhile then Spanish. It was a lot of fun. Maribel.



    [​IMG]

    Really impressed with the number of people here who give the extra effort to learn English and how many more doors open for them when they accomplish it. Language school isn't free so, they have to work hard and sacrificeto pay for their language training.

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  9. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Very relaxing ride to Puno retracing my steps all the way through the little town of Imata (The cold rainy night) and on to Juliaca. Big sweeping corners rising from 8000 feet to 14000+ feet on the Altiplano. Saw my first snow capped volcano before I even got out of Arequipa


    [​IMG]


    and for most of the first part of today’s trip we usually had one or more snow-capped volcanoes in view.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    As I was sitting on my bike taking a picture of this mountain, some German tourist walks up, grabs my camera and took a pic for me


    [​IMG]


    Came across some more Vicuña


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Fairly busy road with the odd bus and truck to pass. A few convoys which are pretty easy to get around on grades. Their loads are many times oversized and so heavy, they are lucky to be doing 5 mph up those hills.


    Stopped in a little town for lunch. Had the usual "Menu" of soup


    [​IMG]


    and pork and rice


    [​IMG]


    this is great food when riding at altitude - filling, tasty and cheap (about $3). Some of the locals at a table across from me. Notice how they are all pretty well looking away from me when they saw me grabbing my camera.


    [​IMG]


    Got to the city of Juliaca just north of Puno. For some reason my trusty GPS decided to take me the long way round for a change rather finding shortcuts through residential neighborhoods. This time, the highway was the short way. It stuck me on this main city road that was two lanes of traffic more or less each way and was packed solid with cars, taxis, trucks and buses competing with each other in a melee of typical Peruvian driving. There were vendors lining the street, cars parked every which way and the street was solid pot holes. Some of them I could have turned around in. This went on for about 10 km of stop and go. I had one advantage over the larger vehicles in that I could ride through the pot holes rather than try to get around them, kind like riding whoops.

    Found my hotel easily in Puno, San Antonio Suites. Decent place. At first the girl wanted me to park in a storage ally that was locked and next to the hotel. Looked a little tight to me and since there was lightning crashing all over the place, I told her I’d deal with it when the thunderstorm finished. Guy shows up after the storm and tells me we can get through the lobby into the courtyard in the back. Much better. Huge step to get up into the lobby. I’m getting better at this stuff. :bmwrider It wasn’t that long ago and I was freaking out about a 4” curb.

    Went to a great restaurant recommended by the hotel. Had a Pisco Sour which is kind of like a Margarita except they make it with Pisco which is the national booze of Peru. It is fermented grape juice (wine) that is then distilled. This was the best Pisco Sour I had had. Have to be careful as I could easily get just as silly on these things as Margaritas. :wink:


    [​IMG]


    This was called Rocoto Relleno - stuffed hot pepper. It was delicious!


    [​IMG]

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  10. stevie88

    stevie88 That's gotta hurt

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    24,829
    Location:
    Texas, I know, right?
    Man, what a great trip! Your reports generally make me hungry too. Have you gained weight on this trip?:wink:
  11. Jick Magger

    Jick Magger Exile on Main Street

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    885
    Location:
    Okanagan Valley BC, Canada/Scottsdale, Arizona
    Rexbuck,

    You are under no obligation to answer this question. You have the right to an attorney......
    <a href="http://jickmagger.smugmug.com/Other/jenny/28672624_4BX8TN#!i=2432631815&k=qdB7ddB&lb=1&s=A" title="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug"><img src="http://jickmagger.smugmug.com/Other/jenny/i-qdB7ddB/0/M/Jenny%20craig-M.jpg" title="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug" alt="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug"></a>
  12. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    It has been a super time. You are right, most of the food is outstanding. :dg

    I don't know about the weight thing, thought I might stop at one of the truck scales and see how I am doing.
  13. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    I'm ok with that stuff as long as I have access to some hot sauce to make it palatable and some beer for nutrition. :slurp
  14. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    The main reason I came to Puno was to see Lake Titicaca and to see the floating houses of the Uros people.

    Now, Lake Titicaca is a must see for anybody who went to school. Don’t you remember when you were 14 years old or so and some incredibly bored teacher was droning on about world geography and you’re in a daze thinking about __________ (fill in the blank with anything other than geography) when all of a sudden some spidy sense tells you the teacher just said . . . Titicaca. You are immediately jolted from your thoughts, trying desperately to (unsuccessfully) suppress a giggle that will quickly morph into uproarious laughter with the rest of the class. OK, enough. So, you can understand this has held some sort of fascination since childhood. Of course, some claim I’m still a child . . . .

    Lake Titicaca is one of the highest lakes in the world at about 12,500 feet and is considered the highest navigable lake. It has the border between Peru and Bolivia running down the middle of it.

    The Uros people are a pre-Incan race who are thought to have originated in the Amazon and who eventually moved to the edge of Lake Titicaca. When the Spanish arrived in 1534, in order to escape them the Uros looked for another, more secure place to live. They noticed chunks of reed roots floating on the water after a storm and came up with the idea of using the reeds to build floating islands to avoid the invading Spaniards.

    There are roughly 75 islands in the community located off of Puno in the Northwest corner of Lake Titicaca. They are built by taking huge slabs of reed roots that are over a foot thick, tying a few slabs together then covering the whole thing with a few feet of dried reeds. They then anchor the island by securing it to stakes driven in the shallower waters. Every two weeks they have to add another layer of reeds on top. An island can last 25 – 30 years before the buoyant layer of roots poops out.

    Looking across an expanse of reeds to the community


    [​IMG]


    One of the islands


    [​IMG]


    Our greeting party


    [​IMG]


    Some small chunks of reed roots used for a demonstration of how the islands are built


    [​IMG]


    Cooking fires are lit on stones so the island doesn’t catch fire. I don’t know how well the reeds would burn though, I lifted the top few inches of reeds and it was pretty wet underneath.


    [​IMG]


    They even haul some soil out and have a little garden


    [​IMG]


    The mayor


    [​IMG]


    This lady as a stone that is curved on one side and rocking it back and forth crushes grain for flour


    [​IMG]


    Neighbors


    [​IMG]



    The islands are solid but you can feel a slight movement from the lake's swell and they are like walking on thick moss – cushy.

    Caution: Skip this paragraph please – RANT. Today, many Uros still live on these islands and have developed a good tourist business. I heard some people complain it is too commercialized but, I say what tourist attraction isn’t? I give these people credit for finding a way to make a living in an area that isn’t rich with job opportunities. They have a unique community – tourists want to see it – and they willing to pay for the privilege of seeing it. So they try to sell you some knick knacks (paddy wack give the dog a bone) – if it offends you, shut up and don’t buy any. You paid the equivalent of $10 for someone to pick you up, haul your whiney ass out to the islands in a boat and tell you about whats going on. You got your money’s worth right there. Say thank you for sharing and cross another item off your bucket list. Rant off.

    They took us for a ride on a big double reed boat they use for tourists. Their regular paddlers must have been off harvesting reeds or something as I think this may have been the first time these two ladies had rowed. They were having quite a struggle with the breeze until they figured out it would work better to turn around so the front end of the boat was at the front. Worked much better and they eventually got us back to the island. Here they are working hard at going the wrong way



    [​IMG]


    Watched a couple of guys sculling on another double boat and it looked almost effortless as they rocketed past us



    [​IMG]


    Met another moto traveler on the tour. Jonny from Switzerland ridding an 800GS also. Started in BsAs 3 weeks ago, been to Ushuaia already and hopes to reach Anchorage by Mid May…. WOW –that’s moving! If he makes his schedule, he will likely beat me to my home. Might run into the odd bit of snow, ice, mud and gravel along the northern routes but, that’s his adventure.



    A couple of shots in the town of Puno


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Fianlly, a menu for tourists. The menu in Spanish with English translation in brackets. :D



    [​IMG]

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  15. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Had to wait for the other guests to finish breakfast as I had to ride down the hall between the lobby and the dining room and out through the lobby. Easier out than in.

    The hotel with the receptionist who did some traffic control for me on the way out.


    [​IMG]


    Pretty flat ridding along Lake Titicaca. Came across a lot of these contraptions in the lake. Look like fish pens so maybe the locals are farming some sort of fish.


    [​IMG]



    There was a whole bunch of these neat formations. I guess the strata just turned up on edge and after the soft stuff eroded, only the hard rock remained as these structures. Thought kind of looked like the back of some dinosaur.


    [​IMG]


    There are two ways to get to Bolivia from here, south around the end of Lake Titicaca or take a ferry across a channel between two peninsulas across the lake that almost touch. Once we turn onto the peninsula, stop in Yunguyo to top up with gas and then hit the border shortly thereafter.

    The border - means leaving Peru. I'm realizing that I spent almost six weeks in this wonderful country. Obviously longer than I had intended and I'm sad to be going. Very friendly people and a stunningly beutiful country. Deserts, high mountains, sea shore, Amazon, Andes, very old culture . . . a place I won't forget.

    Just before the border I came across these ladies herding their livestock. Stop to try and sneak a couple of pictures and all of a sudden the one lady turns around and starts yelling at me and throwing stuff. She was pissed. I apologized but, thought I had better not take anymore pics.



    [​IMG]


    New record for a border crossing – under an hour. Both sides very easy and very laid back. The Peruvian Aduana guy had a calendar that you would usually see in a mechanics shop. How many Gov’t offices do you know that would have nekked pictures on the wall? This is a family venue so no pics.


    The border. Notice the sign on the barrier of "Stop" is in English only



    [​IMG]


    Had this public bathroom right between the Migracion and Aduana buildings. Couldn't quite figure out what the guy painted on the side is supposed to depict - a pervert with a gas problem? I don't know.



    [​IMG]


    After the border had some hills to climb which had some welcome twisties after the flat stuff along the lake. Come around a corner and a guy on the side of the road is flagging me down. I stop and he wants a ride. Tell him I’m fully loaded already. He has a huge suitcase and he wants me to hold his suitcase in front of me while he climbs up and sits on top of my bags. I was trying to suppress a laugh because the guy was dead serious and seemed in almost a panic. I finally convinced him this wasn’t going to happen and he needed to wait for one of the buses to come along.

    The town of Copacabana (and you thought it was a club in New York)


    [​IMG]


    Had to stop here at a police checkpoint. He looked at my documents and said I was missing a stamp. Wanted me to go back to the border to get it. Told him the border guys said I didn't need anything more. He insisted. Finally told him to put his own stamp on there, which he did. Then charged me 10 soles . . . a tax. Whatever. These ladies were across the street and seemed much more pleasant.


    [​IMG]


    Got to the ferry. These are essentially barges with what looked like about a 25 hp outboard. A bus and a car are loading on one ferry and the guy motions me to squeeze in beside the car. OK, tight but made it. They throw a couple of boards in the big vacant spot on my left. Just loose boards and I kind of have the kickstand on a wedge . . . hanging off the back of the boat . . . about 3” between my side bag and the car. Decided to just sit on the bike and try to keep it from rolling over into the lake or bashing a dent in the guys car as the ferry bounces around a little bit.


    [​IMG]


    Nice people in the car. Carlos and his wife.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    One of the hands and Carlos helped me back the bike uphill and get it off. Bus just about runs over me in his hurray to get going.


    The ferry we were on


    [​IMG]




    Wide open plains from Lake Titicaca to La Paz with snow capped peaks in the distance.



    [​IMG]


    Some ladies doing laundry in a river


    [​IMG]


    Big city and crazy traffic, but pretty easy to get around. By the time we get through the first few km of congestion then take a big ramp around onto a freeway. The overpass and onramp are completely clogged with vendors stands and people walking around. Hilarious.



    La Paz is in a big bowl so you come over the side see part of the city below you


    [​IMG]


    Main road takes a big circuitous route to make it easy getting into the bowl – glad my GPS didn’t take on the shortcut across town.

    Adventure Brew B&B (Hostal) where I was booked is on this main road but we were in the lanes going the other direction. Tried to hang a left but some Transito had a conniption so I had to wander around a bit to find a cross street with a light.

    Adventure Brew has a B&B with rooms (where I am) and a Hostal a few houses up the street with dorms . . . and my bike. Seems ok (busy) but can’t get connected to the WiFi. Finally get hooked up , slow but adequate.


    [​IMG]


    The Hostal has its own brewry and a bar in each of the buildings. They give you a free beer each night and the Pale Ale wasn’t bad. The first night I was there they had an all you can eat spaghetti feed. Those who are true conssures of pastas would have turned up their noses at this stuff and called me names like Mangiacake. However, it hit the spot and I had 2 ½ plates.
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  16. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Today was a walk around of downtown La Paz. The major city in Bolivia and the highest capital in the world - something around 12,000 feet


    Other than the hostel having its own brewery, they had you wear these hopital type wristbands that were a really good idea. When I was in Cusco and met up with the ex-pats in the Norton Rat Bar, I had forgotten to take the address of the hotel with me. The younguns were quite concerned that a cab wouldn't be able to find it but fortunately I a couple of wits left (or maybe just one wit) and was able to give the cabbie a landmark to get close and then I could find my way there. This would have been simpler.


    [​IMG]

    Lots of ladies in their traditional dress


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    Little kiosks like this lined the streets and sidewalks in many areas


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    There were quite a number of men carrying these huge bales from the street, down an alley and into some areas of shops. I'm guessing they had clothing in them. They all used a rope tied around their shoulders.


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    This guy is just picking his bale up with the help of the guy behind him. The lady to the left seemed to be the boss and paid each guy as he picked up a bale.



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    This guy just sat with a handfull of birdfood and that little smile on his face


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    Girl at the hostel sent me to a Bolivian fast food place for dinner. This is Paceno. It was pretty good. Took me awhile to figure out how to eat the beans though.



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    The main Plaza has the Bolivian Parliament Buildings on one side


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    And the Presidential Palace adjacent. The guards at the palace


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    Notwithstanding my thoughts of staying here for a few days, I’m not feeling really connected to this unique city. It might be the hostel – on a major thoroughfare so street noise was very noticeable, bad/non-existent internet or, the one major drawback of hostels, all tourists - nobody there from the country you are in. Or, maybe I’m just grumpy.

    My remaining timeframe for South America is shrinking rapidly so I decided to cut my Bolivia experience to just two nights and leave tomorrow. There are other things I’d like to experience here but those will have to wait for another day.
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  17. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Not sure what the roads are like to the Chilean coast so had located a small town across the border into Chile that has a few hotels in case I need a place to stop if it gets too late to get to Arica on the coast.

    Will need to get some gas before leaving Bolivia. The problem in this country is that gas is cheap but only for Bolivianos. Everybody else has to pay triple the regular price and the gas station has to fill out a bunch of paperwork. Needless to say some pump jockeys just refuse foreigners so they don't have to do the paperwork. After all the horror stories I’ve heard about people being refused or being charged even more, I went loaded for bear.

    My plan was to choose a busy station and if they refused me, I’d just stay parked at the pump clogging up a line until they gave me some gas. Kind of like a little kid holding his breath. Many times stations here have pretty long lineups, so that’s what I’m looking for. Found one right away. Wait in line for about 5 minutes, get up to the pump, take all my crap off and the girl pumping gas looks at my plate and starts telling me (in Spanish) that the gas will be something like 25 Bolivars which is about 7 times the normal price.

    Hmmm, rather than argue, decided to switch tactics and try a little confusion so, now I suddenly don’t speak Spanish (The reality is that what little Spanish I do speak is really bad). So, I shrugged my shoulders and used the classic “No fumar Español” (Credit to Crashmaster) which got this really strange look from her as she is trying to determine whether I’m just a stupid gringo or a retarded gringo. I started waved my hands around and said loudly (In English) I need gasoline while pointing at the pump and my gas tank.

    Well, I don't know if she wanted to get the line moving, she felt sorry for me or just gave up but the price suddenly comes down to where it should be and there's a nozzle in my tank. Boss Chica comes over with a form for me to sign and put my passport number on. I end up paying about $1.35 per litre which isn’t that far off of what we pay in Canukistan.

    Then leave the station with a huge amount of class. This is the main highway and busy. There is a whole line of trucks parked front in on my right. I’m trying to find a break in the traffic when I realize the truck I’m next to is slowly backing up. So, I had better hurry up or it will take forever for this guy to be on his way. See a gap in the traffic and can still easily get around the guy backing. I start for the gap when all of a sudden some frickin retard mini-bus driver comes hauling ass from my left and cuts me off. I’m leaned over a bit, have no chance to straighten out and, over I go. :muuttRight behind a truck that is still backing up. I didn’t even take time to hit the kill switch . . . I run up to the cab and tell the guy to stop. I feel like an idiot but, take a bow. :ilmostro Then I ask him to help me pick my bike up . . . which I thought was a good deal for him because, if I had to do it myself, it would take quite a while to unload all the luggage get it up and reload. No problem – nice guy. Had a good chat about the trip.

    Overall, took an hour to get out of La Paz, but it’s a big city. For the next 100 klicks the highway is under construction so, tons of detours and gravel spots. I know Kedgi recently got a ticket along here and I tried to keep speed and passing under control. No tickets. Thanks for taking one for the team Kedgi.

    Lots of big agriculture growing huge acreages of beans. A bit boring but at least it was green.

    Finally started to get some elevation (12,000 feet doesn’t count, we have to go higher) – once we got up to 14-15,000 feet, it was little more than range land populated by gazillions of Llamas. All appeared to be herded belonging to the local farmers.


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    The Altiplano is incredibly beautiful. Wide open plains with the volcano cones in the distance – usually snow covered. At these altitudes, very little vegetation.


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    Finally came to Bolivian Migración and Aduana. Wander over to the Migración building and stand in line for a minute, then peer around the corner and see it is only for people coming into Bolivia. Ask a policeman standing there and he tells me I have to go 15 minutes further to another Migación/Aduana. Back on the bike but we immediately cross into Chile – the Bolivian offices are about 10 km inside of Chile.

    There must be 5 km of trucks parked waiting to get into Bolivia. It is mind boggling what a waste of time and resources these border systems are.

    Sure enough, 15 minutes later come to another set of buildings. Only about 1 ½ km of trucks waiting to get into Chile. First building I come to looks like it has both Bolivian and Chilean Migracións and Aduanas . . . at least that’s what the sign says. Bolivian Migración seems to be locked up so I ask at the Aduans and find I have to walk a hundred yards up to the next set of buildings to get checked out of Bolivia. Then I have to go back to the first set of buildings to check my bike out. Go to Chilean Migracion next door? Nope. Back to the second set of buildings for Chiean Migración and Aduana.
    All of this sounds complicated, but it went pretty fast. Even had to have an Agriculture inspection – which consisted of the guy looking out the window at my bike, asking if I had any fruits or vegies, filling out a form, sign it and done. All together, about an hour. Good in my books.


    The first set of buildings with Bolivian Aduana. You can also faintly see the first 1/2 km or so of trucks lined up in the distance



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    The second set of buildings - grey one on the left is Bolivian Migración and the blue one on the right has the Chiean offices


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    At 15,000 feet this is pretty desolate country but looking behind the border buildings loom these guys with some Llama grazing on the sparse vegetation in the foreground.


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    As we start to loose altitude on the west side of the Andes, it becomes very arid. Lower altitudes are basicly mountains covered in sand.


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    Some valleys may have a river that can provide irrigation and the only green in these desolate areas


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    Carried on for the coast and the good sized town of Arica. This is a port and has a number of container ships in the harbor waiting to unload. Judging by the number of containers I saw on the highway, I’m guessing most of these are destined for Boliva. Hope there aren’t a lot of perishables there.

    Had a few hotels earmarked for Arica. Couldn’t find the first two, the third one, Hotel Americano I found and was perfect. Great parking, good WiFi and two blocks from the downtown.

    Got some cash (strange there was no money changers at the border – maybe not lots of tourists coming this way – I was the third vehicle importation they had done that day) and an electrical adapter for the goofy plugs they have down here.


    Here is a picture of my electrical adapter collection. Left to right: 2 blade adapter used all the way through Central America, Colombia and Ecuador; 2 blade adapter with both blades narrow for Peru and bolivia as their 220 plugs will not accept the other one; Three round prong plug for Chile 220; 2 round prong plug for Argentina 220; 2 Slanted blade plug for Argentina 220 that the 2 round plug adapter fits in.


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  18. Hevy Kevy

    Hevy Kevy ADDRider

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    207
    Location:
    S. Ontario
    Fantastic RR RexBuck!! :clap:clap:clap Thanks!
  19. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    My pleasure - glad you are enjoying it.
  20. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Arica is a nice town with a very active walking mall just around the corner from my hotel. Even had a very civil demonstration against animal cruelty


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    Went for a walk in the afternoon and ended up at the wharves. Big container ships unloading – I’m guessing most of this cargo goes to Boivia.
    Gobs of pelicans hanging around seem oblivious to the people


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    Then I noticed the Sea Lions. They are apparently South American Sea Lions and, they really looked like lions.



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    Thought they were just hanging out when all of a sudden one of the many fish markets starts dumping their accumulation of fish guts out a drain. It was pandelerium! Sea Lions, Pelicans and Sea Gulls all vying for the tasty morsels. No wonder these guys are so rotund - they don't even have to go hunting.


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    Lots of fish vendors at the wharves


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    Most of the vendors were busily making up ceviche which they sell to the lunch crowd in those plastic containers


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    Found a great restaurant called Los Aleros de 21. Great steak accompanied by some decent Chilean wine. I was happy.



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