I ride the long day to Potosi. Getting out of La Paz took forever, the mounds of collectivos (or minivan busses) pilling up and stopping wherever they please to pick up and let off passengers, whether this be in the middle of a three lane road or not! I shudder to think how bad these roads were if these multitudes of fully loaded busses were in-fact people driving their own cars.
I pass a couple on an older BMW from London who have stopped with a flat. They say they don’t need help but give me pointers on a hostel called the Koala’s den in Potosi, where I am to meet them again a few days later.
Finally I am out of La Paz proper and the road is straight and fast, until I am pulled over by the police again for speeding! They show me my speed on their laser guns and I apologies profusely. They ask me about my travels and peruse my international drivers license. They ask me about my travels solo and start pointing at things on the bike asking questions about my iphone, and then they point at the speedo on my bike, impressed that it goes up to 200km per hour. They let me go with a warning and I head on my way, trying to keep below 80km!
I pass through Oruo which is setting up for carnival and head on, finally the road gets a little more interesting as I start to head into the mountains.
It starts to rain, and then hail for good measure. I stop with a break in the weather for a quick lunch of soup at a roadside stand, but further rains leads me to abandon my meal and jump back on the bike and hide under my helmet and heated gloves. It’s sad when you actually get on the bike to escape the weather!
I keep thinking I might stop for the day, but there is nowhere really to stop. I arrive on dusk into Potosi, and spend a while going round and round in circles on the strangely uneven one way streets until I pull into the hostel at 8pm. The entry is horrible, five Argentineans try and help but I am exhausted, cold, and they keep trying to get me to sit on the bike and ride it up a slope while its on a precarious wooden ramp that keeps getting caught in the bottom of my bike. I know its not going to work, but they don’t want to listen to me. I drop the bike shattering the corner of the windscreen. I am in tears. It’s just one of those days. I check into a cheap dorm, but it crowed and horrible, so I change my mind and get a private room. I need space and time for me.
For the first time in ages I have fast wifi, a blessing when I need to hide from the world for a bit. I spend the next day tuning out as the rain pounds down overhead. The hostels bathrooms are horrendous, and I don’t really want to stay longer, but the thought of getting my bike out, and the brilliant wifi keeps me another night.
I venture out only briefly; the town is starting to celebrate with parades and water bombs and shaving cream.
One old lady starts decorating the side walks with flower petals. She hands some to me and tries to explain what she is doing but sadly I cannot understand enough. I spread the flowers along the wall like she shows me, and then she heads on her way, brightening the sidewalk as she went.
The town is one of the highest cities in the world at 4090m , and the altitude is making me breathless.
Alison’s bike is taking its time to get better and I decide to head to Sucre. It’s only a few hours away on a good road, but the drop in altitude is brilliant, both for my body and for the climate.
The weather brightens up and I feel sun on my back for the first time in ages. I pull the bike into the San Francisco hotel’s lovely courtyard, and head across the market over the street.
I love markets and this one is wonderful. I peruse the rows of beautiful fruits and vegetables and talk to the sellers. I cannot cook at the hotel, but I am surprised how happy this place makes me.
The dogs seem to always find their way to the food
Sucre is also enjoying the festivities of the carnival, bands and dancers continuously passing the hotel, drowsing out any other sound in a cacophony of cymbals, drums and brass. I am bombarded with water bombs and shaving cream attacks each time I step out the door of the hotel, drunken people wander the streets struggling at times to stand, and lots of things are closed.
People love to drop water bombs on unsuspecting passersby
So I decide to take it easy, studding the route that Alison and plan to take in the Salar de Uyuni and lagoons route, fix my camping gear, enjoy the sun on the balcony, and occasionally nipping down to the market. Finally I get the all clear from Alison that she and the bike are better, so I head to Potosi to me her again.