Villamontes

Almost stranded in Bolivia…..

Hi everybody,

About to cross the border, so here is our last Bolivian chapter. For one of the bikes is was almost the final chapter….

After some nice days in Sucre, where we met some friends, chilled out and had a great lunch at Pauls place (see his blog: effe lunchen), it was time to go again.

Lunch @ Paul van Hooff

Paul convinced us to ride the Ruta del Che. Wednesday 15 september we left beautiful Sucre and drove to Villa Serano. A nice route, where we were subject to rockfall and very dusty roads.

Rockfall @ ruta del Che

Eat dust

Next day we reached La Higuera. This village consists of 4 houses, a hostel and about 25 pictures and statues of Che Guevara.

La Higuera with Che

In 1967 he was killed here, but he is still very much alive in this village. It was a tough route to get there.

Ruta del Che

Rocky, sandy and hilly but very spectacular. At some places we even had to wait until they finished the “road” to get through.

Road work

ruta del che

Also had to do a little river crossing, still happy the rainy season is a month away.

Rivercrossing

For one of us it came as a little suprise.

The drop

We saw a totally different Bolivia in the Eastern Andes.

ruta del che

left or right?

It also got warmer and warmer. The Ruta del Che brings you to places where Che went to the toilet all the way to where he got killed….We did it, because it was an absolutely beautiful route. It could be a real touristy route, but the roads aren’t that accesible. We only met two other users of the road in two days time….

The day we left La Higuera, we had the second flat tyre on the ruta del Che. We changed Roels tyre on a local football field.

flat tyre

On the road again, Roels bike started to loose power. Nothing new for Bas and Steve, but first time for Roel. It soon turned out to be serious problems. Not much later, Roels bike died in a little village. We decided to try to get a lift to Samaipata, where we thought we would have better chances for repairing. We hitchhiked until we got a 60km ride to Samaipata. Roel in the back and Bas and Steve following.

pick-up ride to Samaipata

following the pick-up

Just before sunset we arrived in hostel Posada del sol, where we would stay for the next week.

Next morning (saturday 18th) we tried to find the cause of the problems, but couldn’t find anything wrong.

looking for the problem

We decided to bring it to a recommended mechanic in the next village on monday. In the mechanic shop they found out that the piston and pistonrings were worn, because of a blocked exhaust pipe. Roels bike was indeed smoking like hell and using more oil than fuel, but we never thought all this carbon would block his exhaust and wear the piston.

in the workshop

It took only four days for these great guys to find the problem, find new parts (which was fairly difficult, because there are only three XT600’s in Bolivia…..ours) and get it all back together. In the meantime Steve already found a new bike for Roel  in case his was beyond repair.

Roels new bike

Although the workshop didn’t really look like it was one of profesionals (with chickens, dogs and cows walking around), these guys sure knew about bikes. On thursday the bike was good to go and ready for a testride. The mechanic had his own way of doing a testride.

testriding the bike

He took us on a local tour, visiting friends, a market and bought us a lots of stuff. We got some real Bolivian used-car-tyre-sandals. This surely is gonna be a hit in Holland. Everything that’s “green” nowadays will sell.

Bolivian sandals

new Pirelli's

Happy with our new Pirelli sandals (they even look great with “geitenharensokken”) we said goodbye to our new friends. The bike was back alive. We were not stranded for live in Bolivia like Paul (hehehe), who we met again in Samaipata. He was on his way back on his brand new XR650R from Santa Cruz. Took it for a ride……Nice!!!

XR650R

Friday (24th) we finally left Samaipata (which was a very nice place to stay for a week, great climate!). Although Roels bike now sounds like a tractor, we are pretty sure it will bring us all the way to Ushuaia.  A long day brought us to Camiri, also a place where Che once was…..we stayed in number 5.

Che was here

Above the door it now says in Dutch:  “The dutch Dangleberries had a shit here in 2010”.

Today we drove to Villamontes on our way to Paraguay. Tomorrow is borderfest. We are right back in summer here, with high temperatures. After 4 weeks Bolivia we are sad to say goodbye to this great country with the most friendly people. But….we are really looking forward to Paraguay too. Not many tourists go there, but the few ones we met are really positive.

Keep you posted.

Luego!

Salar the Uyuni to Sucre

Amigos!

As promised we still have to tell the rest of our journey to Surce.

Cockpitview from the Salar de Uyuni

We entered the Salar the Uyuni and wanted to camp on this biggest salt flat in the world. We drove to the little island Isla Incahuasi in the middle of the Salar.

Riding the salar

We had the best time along the way. No roads, no traffic, we could do whatever we wanted. A new speedrecord wasn’t an issue on our bikes, but still, a lot of fun. “Echelon port……echelon port GO!”

Echelon starboard

On Isla Incahuasi we met other tourists who were doing a 4×4 jeep tour. We spent the afternoon enjoying the strong sun on this salt mirror, setting up camp and waited for all other tourists to leave.

campsite

campsite

By sunset we were the only ones……enjoying a home made pasta, enough booze and poker in the tent.

Salar sunset

Cooking

Pasta and wine

After sunset temperature drops very fast. In the tent it was -3 Celcius…..
Next morning we got out of the tent and in the morning sun to warm our bones and make some essential coffee.

Mr and Mrs llama

We had some curious visitors.

Fresh coffee?

They were wondering why on earth we spent the night there and Mr llama was showing of with Mrs llama……

Mucho gusto

morning sex

We headed east towards Uyuni, but before we left we enjoyed the salt flat a little more. Playing with the mind!

Little Bas

Op één been kan je niet staan...

Where is Uyuni?

Next day we left Uyuni and ate dust for several hours to Potosi, driving behind big trucks on sandy roads.

route to Potosi

Potosi is a beautiful colonial city. It is one of the highest cities by elevation in the world at almost 4100m. Founded in 1546 as a mining town, it soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming one of the largest cities in the world and the biggest exporter of silver. On wednesday (8th) we went on a tour through one of the mines. This one was still active.

Dutch miners

Very impressive to see the miners work. Hard work…. Even for us. At 4100m there is already less air to breathe. Can you imagine how it was when entering a mine for several hundreds of metres, crawling through little holes.

Potosi mine

We bought some presents for the miners, like sodas, coca leaves and dynamite!

coca leaves, dynamite and detonators....

We loved the Bolivian safety regulations………none! Buy dynamite and detonators of the shelve from a grocery store, bring it on the bus, while smoking and blow up whatever you want!

Fire in the hole.....!

If we would have known that in advance….how much more fun could the Salar have been then.
Next day we went to Sucre. This might be one of the most beautiful colonial cities we have seen so far.

Sucre

Whitewashed buildings, a nice plaza, palm trees and a great climate at 2700m. We were lucky…..this weekend was the biggest party/festival of the year.

festival in Sucre

festival

We stay a few days here in Sucre, where we met Vince again and some other bikers. We also met Paul van Hooff, one of our inspirators for doing this trip. So, enough ingredients to drink a lot of beers…..

Chao

PS: Paul, get your ass behind that typewriter and finish your book! We want it ready and signed by the time we get back home.

Sucre

MOVIES!!!!!

Hey everybody!

We are in Sucre and met Vince…….again. He edited some movies from his helmet camera. Those were the days we were riding together in Peru.

The first one is riding the Canon de Pato to Caraz. Vince is riding front.

The second one is the ride to Huanuco. Steve is front, Bas is second, Vince third filming.

Border to Salar de Uyuni

Amigos!!!!

Already two weeks in Bolivia. Time really flies. Soooo much to tell…. That’s why we do it in two posts. We are now in Potosi, but first: border to Salar de Uyuni.

Bolivia, land of the extremes. It’s one of the coldiest and warmest places in South America. It has the driest and saltiest landscapes. It is the poorest country in South America, but is richest in terms of natural resources.

Bolivias Alto Plano

On friday august 27 we did the Bolivian bordercrossing. The easiest so far, there was no one else.

Welcome in Bolivia

We spent two nights in Copacabana, a little village at Lake Titicaca.

Copacabana

We enjoyed the sunny weather during daytime and tried to stay warm after sunset. Bas and Steve climbed the religious hill with nice view over the Lake. A lot of local people do this climb, buy some stuff at the top and have a religious ceremony with beer down the hill.

material things

The funny thing is, that it has only to do with material things. Houses, cars, money, everything on scale they could buy on top and have a beer ceremony whishing it would become theirs. This might be the solution to our budget problem….just ask for more money.

mini motorbike and dollars

So, we bought some fake dollars and a mini motorbike and asked for good luck on our bike trip and a budget miracle. The drunk priest did his thing and about four bottles of beer were used.

beer spillage

Some might say it is spillage of beer. But, don’t worry Ab, it wasn’t Heineken.

Sunday morning we drove to La Paz, worlds highest capital at 3600m. The easiest way to get into this chaotic metropolis, hoping everyone would be in church. Indeed it wasn’t that bad.

La Paz

In La Paz we stayed 5 days with our main goal to do some maintenance on our bikes. Some people consider La Paz a not so pleasant place (to say it nicely), but we sort of liked it. It is just a chaotic big city, but it has its charm.

La Paz

Maybe you can compare the chaotic La Paz life with its power supply. It works, so no one complains.

power supply

On every corner they sell dried lama fetuses. They say it will bring luck, when burried under your house. We thought of buying one for some luck along the road….

dried lama fetuses

We met some travellers we met before and had a few beers with Vince…..again. We also wanted to do the death road, the worlds most dangerous road. This ofcourse is mainly to attract tourists, but we wanted to decide for ourselves. Unfortunately we were stopped by the rain and snow while climbing to 4800m. Besides, Steve and Bas’ bike looked like they were dying. No power, since the day we entered Bolivia our bikes ran like shit. Combination of bad fuel and the altitude. We decided to do something about the carburettor because we would be riding high altitudes the next few weeks (the Alti Plano: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altiplano). Went to an old mechanic and he did the trick we heard from Charlie in Amsterdam….adding the tiniest piece of copper wire to the main jet in the carb. After that the bike drove smooth like riding at sealevel. WOW! Sorry ladies for getting too technical….

Road to Oruro

We left La Paz friday september 3. Next goal was to ride the Salar the Uyuni, the worlds largest salt flat at an altitude of 3700m. We made it to Oruro, famous for its carnival, but we were 5 months too early. We had our first coca tea there, made of coca leaves…..also known for the white power.

Mate de coca

Next day we drove to our Salar startpoint. A long day of dirtroads through beautiful Bolivia.

dirtroads

dirtroads

dirtroads

At nightfall we made it to Salinas de Garci Mendoza, (north of the Salar) and were very surprised to find a neat place to spend the night in this little desolate village.

Next morning we woke up to ride one of the highlights so far, Salar the Uyuni (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salar_de_Uyuni). But before we got there, there was a terrible road of thin sand. Not all of us were able to keep the bike in the right position.

sandy road

But after that……….indescribable. We entered the Salar and had 12.000 square km of salt flat for ourselves. We felt like little boys again.

Entering salar the Uyuni

Riding the salt flats

playing on the salt flats

In the beginning we were not sure if it was salt or snow. Our salt expert did a close examination and concluded it was 100% pure salt.

the salt expert

Dutch dangleberries riding salar the Uyuni

Ok amigos, soon the rest of our Salar the Uyuni experiences and more .

Chao Chao