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Old 03-20-2013, 04:50 PM   #150
porkandcorn OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Portland, Oregon
Oddometer: 296
cochabamba, bolivia to la paz, bolivia

i set out of cochabamba, bolivia on a motorcycle that was idling correctly. i performed the reset that i was taught, and it responded very well. i was very excited to arrive in la paz, as i've always had an interest in visiting the exotic city. to cross through the mountains on bolvian route 4 took about 3 hours. the scenery was not spectacular, but the elevation gain was significant. the roads were in good condition, and fun to ride.

route 4, parotani, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

route 4, caramarca, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

route 4, west of caramarca, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

it was a fairly uneventful day compared to the previous one, but i did encounter a couple of bloqueos (road blockades/protests). these blockades began back in 2006, when evo morales was elected president. before his election, he was the main organizer of the cocaleiros (the coca growers) and these blockades were used by workers unions to insist upon various demands and rights. it seems to have spread to other sectors of the economy, possibly with the encouragement of the now president morales.

bike on route 4, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i found the first bloqueo just as i was descending from the mountains north of ururo, bolivia. this was a miner's strike. i pulled up, and there were rocks and other barriers placed all over the road. there was a significant line of cars and buses, maybe about an hours worth. i pulled to the front of the commotion (as i usually do), and turned off the bike. bus passengers were standing about, eating, talking, and waiting impatiently.

miner's blockade, route 4, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

a christian missionary, rather obviously american, came up to my stopped bike. he explained in a thick north carolinan accent that it was a miners strike, and recommended i not try to cross through - even though other bolivians said motos were ok to pass. the missionary said that the strikes can turn violent quickly, and that the miners can at times carry pieces of dynamite that they will use to strengthen their 'voice.' there's a u.s. state department advisor currently issues about this area right now.

mineros bloqueo, near oruro, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

luckily, after only about a 5 minute wait, there was a negotiation between the miners and the people waiting that allowed for the vehicles to pass. on the south side of the same town, there were about 50 bolivian riot police kicking rocks off the road and directing traffic through the chaos. the blockade made a big mess, but it was peaceful.

riot police at bloqueo, near oruro, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the road from ururo to la paz was a slow, straight climb through the high plains, eventually revealing the high, snow-capped peaks that surround la paz. the roads were terrible for motorcycling, often with very deep grooves in the pavement from the heavy truck traffic. and there was a lot of construction on that stretch as well, as they are building a 4 lane highway on route 1 that leads south out of el alto. arriving into la paz about about 3pm, i found the second bloqueo in la paz's companion city of el alto, bolivia. i was descending down a long hill, and could see the impending chaos laid out in front of me.

trenches in road, south of la paz, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

traffic lost all order, not that there was much to begin with. cars were going in every direction imaginable, trying to find a way around the blockade. but eventually, the traffic came to a halt and people were wandering around their vehicles. i proceeded slowly through the maze of semis, buses, cars, and people now selling items to them as they waited. i couldn't see any activity that caused concern, so i continued snaking through. i had to creep down through a couple of ditches, and around the requisite rocks and barriers, this time including some tires that were almost done burning.

this looked like some kind of education strike, from reading what i could understand from the banners. even some of the protesters were waving me through, so i picked up my speed and continued to search for a path. i eventually reached the slow-flowing streets of el alto on the other side of the bloqueo, this time confronted by the bloqueo of some crazy traffic that continued all the way into central la paz. i used my new-found obstacle-avoiding skills to pick through the weird side streets of markets, vendors, and people. i felt like it was what james bond would do, but i was going a lot slower and there was no sexy lady on the bike with me.

i eventually made it to the edge of el alto, where a twisty road drops down into la paz itself. it's a shocking and exciting site - the city of la paz. it's an enormous high-altitude bowl, flanked on all sides by andean peaks, and filled to overflowing with a uniform mass of red brick structures. i stood atop the overlook before i went down to the hotel, just absorbing it for a moment. i was too overwhelmed for several minutes to even take pictures. i just stood there looking at this exotic place that i'd always wanted to visit.

vista, avenida naciones unidas, la paz, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

bike and vista 2, avenida naciones unidas, la paz, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

self portrait, avenida naciones unidas, la paz, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

centro de la paz, bolvia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

building, la paz, bolivia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

la paz, bolivia at night by porkandcorn, on Flickr

porkandcorn screwed with this post 03-25-2013 at 09:06 AM
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