El Burro - hibernating In Uruguay

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TeeTwo, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    Fantastic T2, loving your photos and story. You just cant tire of those Andes and how they have a different character through each country. Great that you're doing it on two wheels. Bravo !
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  2. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    So far so good, no issues at all on the bike. Aiming to keep hydrated and suck on the occasional coca leaf candy. I wouldn't want to pick the old girl up though, that would require a lot of effort.

    Off the bike, when walking uphill (some of which are step around here) I need to pace myself and still get puffed. But I am noticing that diminishing as I hang around up here. The hostel in La Paz is at 13,200ft … altitude training at it's finest.

    Cheers T2
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  3. liv2day

    liv2day Is Anyone Here a Marine Biologist! Supporter

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    :lol3 :lol3 :lol3

    Hope you brought some warm clothes for the wandering.

    It's nice that they fill the pot holes, could use some of that in sections of Baja. I imagine getting asphalt out to those locations isn't exactly easy. Cool pics of the ferry, though that thing looks pretty close to the water line :eekers :eekers.

    Looking forward to the next installment, bet you get some great shots from riding the gondolas :thumb
  4. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    La Paz is an interesting city to wander around, different to the other capitol cities visited in SA so far in as much as the Spanish and Catholic church influences are not nearly as evident. Took the Red Cap walking tour, a three hour stint that talked and walked about the San Pedro prison, the witches market, the food market, San Francisco Church, government square and so forth; they did a nice job.

    The prison wasn't much to look at but the story is a little bizarre. It houses 3,000 prisoners who buy their way in, occupy cells they own or rent, operate businesses, family come and go as they please and it is not patrolled on the inside. It is a little city of its own occupying a square block of the city, has good and not so desirable barrios within and an overall governing body, all felons. So organized is it that Coca-Cola have negotiated an exclusive deal to supply carbonated beverages and juices! Say what?

    The witches market had the desiccated llama calves and fetus, used in offerings. For the sensitive reader (on this forum...:hmmmmm:augie) the deaths occurred naturally during the harsh winter in the highlands.
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    San Francisco church was cool, apparently the Catholic Church had to mix the local beliefs and iconography into the external decoration to bribe the locals to come inside. To this day the catholic church and local custom mix. It is evident as one rides through the countryside that the village squares, now more often than not derelict, do not have a church at their core and the catholic presence is much weaker than the other countries.

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    The city has a nice wide avenue running through it that was a pleasure to walk through and the usual squares to open things up.
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    …...
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  5. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    ….. the white building is the prison.

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    Of course the city is known for the Teleferico, the interconnected cable car mass transit system. IIRC there are 16 lines operating currently, the most recent opened at the end of 2018. Another 3 planned. I rode the purple and silver lines. Very efficient, very clean and very cheap (50 cents per ride).

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    Offering well known/photographed views of the city. It was a bit hazy on the day I was flying in them.

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    …..
  6. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Rode south from La Paz to Oruro yesterday, about 160 miles with a detour in and out ride to visit Valle de la Luna. The Valle is about 11 miles south east of the city and from what I saw a weekend destination to get out of the city. Quite a spectacular valle and a nice ride, though there was a bit of traffic.

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    The hoodoos reminded me of Bryce Canyon in Utah, though lacking the vibrant colors.

    A couple of decent photo-ops along the road.

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    After exiting the valle road the journey south to Oruro is pretty much arrow straight and fast. It passes though the highplains, mostly scrubland dotted with a few hills. If you want a view you need to keep checking your mirrors, for 40 miles or so the mirror reflects the snowcapped peaks from side to side. Nice.

    Oruro is a funky place that is being developed to house more people. It is endowed with a lot of modern art sculptures, that I think represent parts of the local heritage. But then again some of it appears very new age. All seen in the next post..
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  7. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    I booked a night in a residencia via Booking.Com. I had no idea what a residencia was; I do now; it is the kind of place you don't want to stay. Shared bathroom....well, how about a urinal next to the washbasin - same height, no door on the entrance to the area. Showers on the floor below, no lighting in the stalls that are pitch black when the stall door is closed. The claimed hot water in the shower wasn't but who the hell cares...I wasn't about to use 'em!

    Now in Sucre, and have a polar opposite place to stay....just had a shower. Sweet. But more on today's journey another time. I need a brewski…

    Ciao. T2
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  8. liv2day

    liv2day Is Anyone Here a Marine Biologist! Supporter

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    Those are some really cool shots @TeeTwo! The snow-capped peaks especially - they look to be the only thing standing up that high? Or were there a bunch of different mountains like that as you made your way along the road?

    The place you stayed in Oruro - woof. Was the bed at least comfy, or was the entire place a big thumbs down?

    Hope you're enjoying that cerveza, maybe a couple of 'em after the last stay :beer :beer
  9. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    HI there liv2day;

    La Paz has a semi-circle of snowcapped peaks around the north and east, the one pictured was the tallest.

    The bed was as wretched as the whole place..... Have given my review to booking.com so hopefully some other poor bastard doesn't get stuck with that place.

    Had a nice couple of jars of the local artisan blond ale....man, they just slid right down.

    Ciao T2
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  10. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Google Maps will tell your that F6, the road that connects Oruro to Sucre, has a 100 mile gap. It doesn't...after riding through the tin mining town of Huanuni, F6 becomes a sheer delight. The road is now paved the entire length, it was completed late 2018 after 30 years...there are numerous signs thanking Evo, the president , for making it happen.

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    Lakes, remote pueblos, wide river beds, interesting rock formations and plunging valleys made for an enjoyable 200 mile shunt south to Sucre. I hadn't been expecting the variety of landscapes.

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    …….
  11. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    ….

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  12. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    ……
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    Hotel Solariega put the hovel of Oruro behind me. A great feel, really nice multiple courtyard property with great style, just 3 blocks from the main square in Sucre. Checked all the boxes though USD 5 per night to park the bike was a it steep.

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    Sucre, the center of government from the founding of the country in 1825 remains the constitutional capital of Bolivia. It is a vibrant place, full of young people, mostly Bolivian supplemented by a tourists. It is a white city with a lot of nice streets and grand buildings in the main square.

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    …..
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  13. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    ……

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    The Casa de Libertad housed the original Bolivian congress and is now a museum. My plans to visit in the morning were thwarted by a civic ceremony taking place in front of the building, with much military pageantry to go along with it.

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    …….
  14. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    … though the poor buggers who had stood in the sun for a couple of hours in their serge coats didn't get the most comfortable transport back to barracks.

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    The Casa de Libertad is worth a visit to see the very ornate congressional chamber and the statement of independence signed by Simon Bolivar.

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    ..and the building itself is impressive.
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  15. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    To finish this series of posts on a motorcycle note. Between the morning and afternoon visit to the Casa de Libertad I had an extended lunch with Steve and Janette, a brit couple who have been traveling the Americas for the best part of 5 years on their Triumph Tiger 800XT. I had followed their journey through Facebook and their blog and when I saw they were in the area made contact, lunch was the result. We may meet up again later in the year when we will both be heading to Patagonia.

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    And finally, finally there was a lightly used Bolivian plated Africa Twin sitting on the streets of Sucre. Nice to see.

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    Arrived in Potosi at midday today and took a mine tour in the Cerro Rico this afternon, that story to come in the next episode.

    Cheers. T2
  16. Balanda

    Balanda No, I don't believe I will

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    Wow, I kinda felt that was skipping through Bolivia too quickly last year. I hadn't realized there was such a variety landscapes. Thankyou for the great update.
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  17. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    It was a short 100 mile hop from Sucre to Potosi. A familiar pattern, the road climbed and crossed the highplains, pleasant but unremarkable except for a very wide river valley of red sand and gravel that was being actively extracted. The valley was crossed by a foot bridge that had a very elaborate buttress that was out of character with the area. I would dearly like to know the story behind it.
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    Potosi exists for one reason and one reason only, silver and other minerals within Cerro Rico, a mountain that dominates the town physically and economically. It is a working town that greets the visitor with the largest gateway I have seen to date.

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    …..
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  18. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    The Spaniards discovered silver in Cerro Rico in 1545, it has been mined ever since. The importance Spain attached to the town and the wealth accumulated is reflected in a well preserved center with impressive buildings that is crisscrossed with narrow paved streets. My hostel Casa Maria Victoria, is in an antique courtyard home, tucked next to the cathedral.

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    But it is silver mining that remains the heartbeat of Potosi. One hundred mines still remove ore from the heart of Cerro Rico, employing 15,000 men directly and thousands more in the economic activity it generates. The mines are organized as co-operatives, each man essentially self employed. Several of the co-operatives offer tours of the working mines, an experience not to be missed.

    After getting kitted up the first stop was the mine store, I had never seen dynamite before let alone a stick that was fused.

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    Then it was off to the mine head and underground, 2 hours of the most intense experience in my life...
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  19. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    Then mine head is drifted into the side of the mountain with galleries above and below the entrance level. The mine guard dogs demanded their tribute on the way in. Shortly after entering the mine a 2 ton cart of ore came hurtling along the tracks pushed by 2 men. A shallow recess provided a safe place to let it pass.

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    ……...
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  20. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    ,.... and then deeper into the mine, climbing 25ft ladders with missing rungs over an 80ft deep shaft, walking on a single rail, hands braced against the rock faces, a 10 foot fall awaiting the unwary, belly crawling through squeezes to access caverns where the vein of silver led the miners and where ore is removed to this day.

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    At left Chelsea from the UK and at right Anna from Germany. I hate ladders, but was I going to wimp out in front of the gals...hell no!

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    I was pleased to resurface (we all were).

    The center is lit up at night, making for a picturesque city setting that belies the conditions under which many of her citizens labor.

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    Tomorrow onward to Uyuni and the Salar.

    Cheers T2