Uyuni to Oruro
Today would be the longest day riding on the tour so far. We had to leave a little earlier than normal because of the long day riding. We had breakfast at about 7:30 and we were on the bikes by 8:30. The day would have a lot of dirt road riding before hitting pavement as we neared the city of Oruro.
We bid farewell to beautiful downtown Uyuni.
The road from Uyuni to Oruro was fairly level and straight. However, the road was pretty mush washboard, rocks, dust and sand for many miles. There was little traffic on the road. Care had to be taken when crossing any railroad crossing that might cross the road. The railroad crossing were not maintained and there could be a good sized hole in the road near the RR tracks. The closest I came to crashing on the whole tour was when a set of crossing the railroad tracks on this road. I nearly lost it one time when I hit a deep hole between the RR tracks where the tracks crossed the road. I also had to keep an eye out for deep dust, that was also a challenge to keep upright in while riding.
The road leaving Uyuni on the way to Oruro
The road to Oruro - note sheep and llamas in the distance near the road
Careful on those dusty curves
On the way to Oruro, we passed through the town of Challapata - the center of Illegal vehicle trade in Bolivia. As we approached Challapata, there was a strong military police presence. As we passed through the town, I noticed places in the street where it looked like tires had been burning, but now it had been clean up. The town was pretty quiet except for the military police all over the place. As we got to the other side of town there was a road block manned by more military police. At the road block they asked for our papers and i showed my passport and international drivers license to the very nice officer - he was nice, I'm not joking. Anyway, he asked where we were going and where we came from. When we told him we were from Uyuni, he was impressed - it's a long hard road to Uyuni.
After a short stop to have our papers checked, we were bid good luck by the commander and we were sent on our way. Just past the road block were more troops in riot gear - helmets and shields - and an army tank, complete with canon pointing towards the town. Just so the towns folk would know who's in charge.
I learned later on that 2 people had been killed by the police in Challapata a day or 2 before we went through the town. The dead guys had been part of a car smuggling ring. After the killing of the 2 guys, there was a big demonstration by the locals. The demonstration (maybe riot) had to be put down by the military police. Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the troops, taking pictures didn't seem like a good idea at the time.
A town we passed through on the way to Oruro. It seemed like most of the small towns we rode through were nearly deserted. There were people there, they just were not out on the streets.
Typical street scene in downtown Oruro.
The central square or Plaza in Oruro