Dirtbikes & Death Roads, 2200 Miles in Bolivia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RockyRoads, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    250
    Location:
    Aptos, California
    I sponsor Maribel through ChildFund, and I highly recommend them. A few years ago, a family member had spent some time in the Dominican Republic and had seen what an incredible difference ChildFund sponsorships made in the lives of children there, providing the children with education and social services. So I looked into the organization. One of the things that really appealed to me was the ability to communicate directly with the sponsored child, via letters, and to establish a real relationship that grows and deepens over time. We now sponsor six children throughout the world, and I feel a strong connection to each of their families and communities. I can also see, first hand, the difference that my sponsorship makes in each child's life. ChildFund, as an organization, seems to be very well run and very responsive to questions or concerns that I may have. It also is very protective of the children (as it should be); in order to visit Maribel, Ben and I had to have background checks performed, and I was not allowed to speak privately to Maribel during my visit.
    #21
  2. no

    no kidding

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    112,974
    Location:
    plains
    This is pretty tremendous...thanks.
    #22
  3. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    644
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Excellent ride report!

    Great pictures too. Can't wait for the next part :clap
    #23
  4. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    250
    Location:
    Aptos, California
    DAY 8: SORATA TO <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">SANTA ROSA</st1:place></st1:city><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Our Sorata hostel:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
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    We saw this bull from our window:<o:p></o:p>
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    A view from the front of the hostel:<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p> </o:p>Today was my favorite day of riding&#8212;the roads were all dirt and the most challenging by far, with quite a few washouts and river crossings.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We started the day by returning to the town entrance for gas:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p>[​IMG] </o:p>
    Here is the Sorata welcome sign:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    We then began our fun-filled day of riding. We wound our way up the mountain behind Sorata, with a multitude of switchbacks. Here is a view of Sorata with the tall mountains behind it; the town is popular with hikers and mountain climbers (and has an altitude of about 8850 feet). <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    (We must have gotten a smudge or some condensation on our camera lens, as many of the following pictures have a white blur on them&#8212;sorry!)<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The road was basically a dirt jeep trail, with a steep drop off on one side. Cars and jeeps would speed along this road with an apparent lack of concern about colliding head-on with other vehicles.

    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG] <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We came across many beautiful waterfalls. Here are William, Maurice, Ben and I in front of one, with a small water crossing:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    On the other side of the road from the waterfall was a woman washing clothes:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    (I am SO grateful for the convenience of washing machines.)<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The roads would wind up and up and up, and then we would round a corner . . . and find ourselves on the other side of the mountain! Then we would wind down and down and down (with switchbacks galore) until we were near the bottom; there would usually be some type of water crossing over to the next mountain, and then we would start the process all over again, winding our way up the next mountain. I can&#8217;t even begin to count the number of times that I would gasp with astonishment as I came around a corner and saw a magnificent view before me. Here is one of the views where you can see a series of switchbacks (someone pinch me&#8212;am I really here experiencing all of this?)<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    The wash-outs added to the fun of the day (I enjoy technical challenges):<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    (I must add that I loved the DR650--it performed beautifully through all of the water crossings, washouts and all types of terrain.) <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    One of the towns that we rode through:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    Up to this point, I have forgotten to mention that there are numerous dogs in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bolivia</st1:place></st1:country-region> that love to charge at, and chase, motorcycles. In every town, in both the altiplano and the jungle areas, it seemed there was at least one dog (sometimes a lot more) that would come charging out of nowhere to nip at our boots and tires as we were rolling along. Earlier today, I was making my way gingerly through a gigantic mud puddle that was stretched across the entire road, and a small dog lunged from the bushes; I thought that it was going for my boot, but at the last minute it swerved and made a suicide leap in front of my bike. I braked quickly, splashing water all over my goggles, and heard an ear-piercing shriek of pain (not mine)&#8212;I thought, &#8220;Oh no, I think I killed it!&#8221; Then as my goggles cleared, I saw the dog emerge from the puddle and run off down the hill as fast as it could go. Whew!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Another great view:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    There were many herds of animals, sometimes walking in the middle of the road. Here is a woman with her herd:<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    We were often at the same level as the clouds:<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Me, among the clouds:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Ben was having fun too:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Some houses with the clouds rolling in:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Another breathtaking (for me) view:
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    In this photo, you can see our road twisting down the mountain:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Some of the local people earn money by panning for gold in this river:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Here I am, with William; it is lunchtime, and we are waiting for Maurice to return from the village below with news of whether we can buy some lunch there:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    We can! Here is the restaurant/store where we had a nice lunch of rice, meat and egg:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>

    It is always interesting to see what types of goods are available for purchase in a small village. In the store where we had lunch, there were eggs, baby diapers, sugared sodas, tomatoes, crackers, toilet paper, and some other items.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    There were a few children inside the restaurant checking us out. Before lunch, I had made friends with a little two-year-old, who I had sat on my bike. After lunch, there were quite a few kids who gathered around; I showed them the different motorcycle parts and let them toot the horn. Ben did the same. I also met the mother, Yula, of the two-year-old; I was able to talk (in Spanish) with her about her village, her children, and the surrounding mountains. (We did not meet many Bolivian people who spoke English.) Here I am with the wonderful group of children we met:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    One crossing had a waterfall to one side; one slip and . . . . Here I am on the bike, ready to cross. <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>


    The crossing was actually quite tame, but the fact that the waterfall was right on the edge made it seem more difficult.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Another beautiful waterfall:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I just can&#8217;t keep from smiling:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    During the late afternoon, the roads became steeper, with sharp hairpins and large sections of big loose rocks&#8212;definitely more challenging. We arrived in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Santa Rosa</st1:place></st1:city> in the late afternoon:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    When we first arrived, and I pulled off my helmet, I soon had 8 young schoolgirls standing around my bike looking at me shyly, giggling a little, but not saying anything. I loved it! They were all dressed in their navy blue school uniforms, with plaid skirts. I sat on my bike and looked at each girl, greeting her individually and asking how she was doing. After a short time, we had to pull our bikes into the hotel courtyard, so I told the girls that I had to go. I never saw them again, but I won&#8217;t ever forget their sweet inquisitive faces.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Hotel Judith was very basic. It had a communal single bathroom, and our small room was extremely rustic but wouldn&#8217;t have been too bad if they hadn&#8217;t sprayed so much insect repellent in it that I could scarcely breathe. Ben and I had gotten our yellow fever vaccine before leaving the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">U.S.</st1:country-region></st1:place>, but there are no vaccines against malaria or dengue fever&#8212;both of which are spread by mosquitoes. We hadn&#8217;t had to worry about mosquitoes in the altiplano because those insects don&#8217;t live at such high elevations. Now that we were lower in altitude, we had to avoid getting bitten. Although I doubt that any insect could have survived all the chemicals in our hot room, we slept tonight under a mosquito net that Ben had bought for this trip.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    A view of the hotel courtyard (the pool provided a pretty backdrop, but the water was an uninviting green color, so no one took a dip):<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p> </o:p>

    We ate outside at this table (I learned that if you sit under the florescent light, your plate becomes the landing pad for bugs&#8212;big ones--that hit the light and then do a freefall):<o:p></o:p>

    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    We had lively dogs outside our hotel door throughout much of the night. Ben swears that the dogs had tracked us down, as if we were escaped refugees, and had decided to park themselves outside our door and let the world know where we were.
    #24
  5. RockyRoads

    RockyRoads RockyRoads

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    250
    Location:
    Aptos, California
    DAY 9: <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">SANTA ROSA</st1:place></st1:city> TO GUANAY<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I was glad to leave <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Santa Rosa</st1:place></st1:city> this morning. We had a very short day, only 71 miles, but we had two major river crossings to do. Maurice was not sure if the rivers were even passable.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    A town that we rode through:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    One insect we haven’t seen the entire trip: butterflies!<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The first river had a very strong current, with lots of rocks under the water. Maurice decided against us riding across. After considering various options, he said that the crew would push the bikes across. The first bike, with Maurice, Rene, Hugo and David pushing (Ben offered to help, but Maurice said not to worry about it):<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]
    </o:p>

    <o:p>
    </o:p>

    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p>
    </o:p>

    <o:p>[​IMG] </o:p>

    The chase vehicle carried the riders across. After Maurice and his crew had pushed the third bike across, this white pick-up truck appeared, and the driver agreed to let Maurice load the remaining bikes in the back of his truck to be carried across:<o:p></o:p>

    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    By the time all of the bikes were on the other side of the river, it was lunchtime. We had a picnic lunch and then rode onward.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We quickly reached the second river, which was much wider than the first:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    There was a small village on the edge of the river, and our dilemma of how to get across provided some entertainment for quite a few of the children (and adults too). <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    After a while, this red pick-up came along and agreed to carry us and the bikes across the river:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    (I was thinking that pick-up truck owners must be very popular people during the rainy season.) <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    While waiting for the bikes to be loaded, the heat was sweltering. I was reminiscing fondly about needing to wear my long johns in the cold altiplano air. I told Ben that I was imagining our next hotel with air conditioning. He said, “This is <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Bolivia</st1:place></st1:country-region>.” And I said, “Hey, don’t ruin my dream!”<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The rest of the ride passed fairly quickly. We were steadily descending in elevation, with continued wonderful scenery to enjoy:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    Ben:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    <o:p> </o:p>
    Another view (we are definitely not in the altiplano):<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    The town of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Guanay</st1:place></st1:city> was nestled in the green hills:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    I loved this town! First we checked into our hotel:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Our room had its own bath, with hot water, and . . . drum roll please . . . there was a ceiling fan!!!! Even better than air conditioning (no loud machine noise). I felt like I had won the lottery!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    As we pulled up to the hotel on our bikes, there was a little girl outside the hotel who stopped to watch. We chatted with her briefly—she was very smart; her name was Joanna, and she was 7 years old and in the third grade. When Ben and I came out of the hotel to take a stroll through town, Joanna was waiting for us with a children’s book that was written in English. It was a simple book about colors. Her grandmother had bought the book for her at the market for 2 Bolivianos ($.30), but they hadn’t been able to read many of the words. We knelt down with the book and went through the pages carefully, translating the English words into Spanish for her. Then she walked with us a bit until we reached her house. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Ben and I walked to the village plaza:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p> </o:p>
    There, we found a tiny café with several outdoor tables. The owner was very welcoming. Ben and I enjoyed a drink and some small pastries together, watching the activities of the people around us. When it was time for us to pay, the owner said that the pastries were his gift, and he wouldn’t accept a tip for the drink either. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We had a good dinner of meat and rice in town. I got the opportunity to eat tripe for the first time—it was chewy like calamari but tasted “beefy”. From left to right: William, Marc, Hugo, Rene, David, Olivier, Ben and Maurice:<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We had a solid night’s sleep . . . with the ceiling fan wafting air down on me all night long.



    [DAYS 10-12 TO BE CONTINUED BELOW]
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    #25
  6. RonS

    RonS Out there...

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2002
    Oddometer:
    36,807
    Location:
    Dancing with roads
    What a wonderful adventure! Thanks so much for spending the time to take us along with you.
    #26
  7. peter13

    peter13 FJ cruiser

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    338
    Location:
    East of the Blue Mountains. Sydney Australia.
    That was just great,,your pics and commentary was excellent,,thankyou.
    #27
  8. mountaineer

    mountaineer Explorer.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Manila, Philippines
    Wonderful.
    Very nice trip.
    Fully described.
    Aptly pictured.
    More, please.
    #28
  9. SteveRed

    SteveRed Adventure Moto

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,781
    Location:
    Sydney Hills - Australia
    BRILLIANT!!! THANKS FOR THE REPORT :thumb
    #29
  10. dirtypumpkin

    dirtypumpkin "Monster Truck Bike"

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    14,014
    Location:
    Northern California
    Awesome report & pics, thanks for sharing.:freaky
    #30
  11. HIgh Water

    HIgh Water Waisting Time

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    351
    Location:
    Los Barriles, Baja - Colorado - Stuttgart Germany
    Great Report Kathy! I'll be sure to send Becky a link. She'll have me buying plane tickets next week to Bolivia :huh .
    #31
  12. HeathersTrike

    HeathersTrike Ride on

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    136
    Location:
    Modesto
    Thoroughly enjoyed seeing your ride through Bolivia. The landscape is so different. What a great experience. I hope your friend that required surgury is all right.
    #32
  13. OldAndBusted

    OldAndBusted Needs a little work...

    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    400
    Location:
    VT, USA
    that's a hell of a goddamn ride, but even more of a hell of a goddamn report on it. all of your pictures are interesting and all of the comments are fun to read. two thumbs up. and viva che!
    #33
  14. DarinB

    DarinB Fish Hunter Esq.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Oddometer:
    356
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, CA.
    Great ride report and pictures! Thanks for sharing it with us.
    #34
  15. doc_ricketts

    doc_ricketts Thumper jockey

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,424
    Location:
    FlaWaCo?
    Holy Crap Batman!! What a great report. Extremely well done and interesting, combining challenging riding and the culture. You made my top 3, meaning I am hoping to follow in your footsteps. Have thought about Bolivia/Patagonia as a tour and you gave me some great feel for Bolivia.
    #35
  16. MaddBrit

    MaddBrit Now officially a Yank.

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Oddometer:
    27,907
    Location:
    Allen, Tejas. Blissful state...
    Simply outstanding!

    :bow

    THANK YOU so much for sharing your amazing pictures!
    #36
  17. GSPD750

    GSPD750 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,602
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    :clap :clap :clap
    Excellent report and pics. Thanks for sharing.
    #37
  18. Rusty Rocket

    Rusty Rocket Life behind "Bars"

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    14,230
    Location:
    Tri- Cities TN
    What an interesting report. I've thoroughly enjoyed it so far. I notice that the DR650's have stock tanks. What were the arrangements with gas? Did you fuel from the chase trucks alot, or did you find gas other places? How many in the group are running out and buying DR650's when they get home? Did most like the bikes?? thanks for reporting
    #38
  19. KHVol

    KHVol Long timer

    Joined:
    May 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,593
    Great report, many thanks.

    Cuppla questions:

    1) Why did the shoe shine boys have their faces covered ?

    2) Why are gates across the road leading into the towns ?

    3) How is your injured rider holding up ? ( I may have missed something)
    #39
  20. BriKielyGSman

    BriKielyGSman BigBadBri

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    511
    Location:
    Alberta, Canada-motorcycle hell......
    [​IMG]

    Yup, I remember the guys in La Paz in the vans barking out something at the stops......it was great....

    What an awesome ride you guys are having. Bolivia is fantastic.

    Thanx for the report. I know how much work it takes while on vacation.

    B and C
    #40