Monday, March 15, 2010

Oruro, Bolivia to Desaguadero, Peru - March 13

We had a small private garage to ourselves at the hostal in Oruro, so we took advantage of it to do some minor maintenance on the bikes - checking fluid levels, brake condition, chain tension, cleaned and lubed the chains, and topped up engine oil.

Bolivia has not been good to us, and although we have met some very kind and helpful Bolivian people, for the most part we have not felt welcome and would like to reach Peru today.

We hit the road at 9:30am and were making great time towards the days big challenge - La Paz.  We stopped for water and snacks at a small kiosco outside of Patacamayo and were soon surrounded by local boys about 5 to 8 years in age.  They had many questions about the bikes but then pointed out to Petra that her rear tire was flat.

That makes six flat tires in 11,000km's - I'm going to stop counting now.

A local man in traditional dress came over and helped me change the tube.  He clearly had a lot of experience and taught me a few tricks to ease the task (which I dearly hope not to have to use!)

It took about an hour to get underway again, but we made up some of the time on the highway.

Now, take all that I've told you about Bolivian drivers and magnify that 100 fold, throw in thousands of pedestrians, dogs, and donkeys that are each blind to traffic and you are starting to get the picture of what riding through La Paz was like.  Oh, and I almost forgot all the trucks and buses belching thick black diesel smoke from all directions.
The ramp onto the Autopista Copacabana  was unbelievable - through traffic flying by, mini-buses stopping mid-lane to drop-off or pick-up pedestrians milling about in the lanes, and all kinds of vehicles jostling for position to merge onto the highway.  But by far the most incredible thing to me, was in the middle of all that was a man calmly wheeling himself along a lane in a wheelchair!
We reached the frontier by 6pm but struggled to find Migraciones.  Eventually we worked our way through the Bolivian officials and crossed into Peru.
The Peruvian officials were very friendly but also very slow, and it was getting darker by the minute.  The customs guy was great, but needed to reboot his computer a few times before he could finish with us.

The nicest and friendliest soul was the National Policia official who gave me all kinds of pointers about travel in Peru, but gently insisted we make a small donation to Santa Rosa, patron saint of the Policia.  We told him we didn't have any Peruvian Soles yet, but he just smiled and said he would enjoy talking with me while Petra went to the money changer to get some!

She was back in a few minutes, threw a few Soles into the "offering box", and with a big handshake we were off.  We've now travelled over 11,000km's in South America and I've just bought my first "ticket to the policeman's ball"!

We stayed in a hostal right at the border with a secure courtyard for the motos. It was cheap and unpleasant but served its purpose.

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