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Old 01-15-2008, 02:44 PM   #7
RockyRoads OP
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Aptos, California
Oddometer: 250
DAY 5: QUETEÑA TO TUPIZA

Today was a wonderful day of fast, rocky roads that wound their way over multiple mountain passes. In the morning, we left the national reserve area of Sud Lípez. At the entrance and exit of each national reserve, Maurice had to provide identification information (such as passport numbers and birth dates) for all of us.

Olivier and William in front of the national reserve checkpoint:


As we rode onward, I was amazed by the rock formations and vistas. The protruding rocks were enormous:





Ben and I had stopped to take the two photos above when we looked back to see Gérald’s bike on the ground. He had crested a blind rise, with speed that had not anticipated a right-hand curve and sharp drop-off to the left on the other side. Although Gérald was now standing upright and moving around, he was in obvious pain. His right shoulder was making crunching noises, and the line along the top of his shoulder had an unnatural lumpy slope to it, making his right shoulder lower than his left; his right foot was hurt too. He was very stoic, and in his usual good spirits, but he indicated that he thought that his injuries were such that his ride was over.

Gérald (in the red shirt) at the top of the blind rise, waiting to climb into the chase truck. (Hugo is on the left, and William on the right.)



Our goal at this point was to get Gérald to the nearest doctor. The next town was San Antonio, and we were hoping to find medical assistance there. We continued onward, with Gérald in the chase truck and David (our guide who usually rode in the chase truck) riding Gérald’s bike.

We continued our winding path through incredible scenery:











Unfortunately, there was no doctor in the small town of San Antonio:



We continued riding to the next town.

Here I am heading down the road (one of my favorite photos):



Since the bikes could go a lot faster than the chase truck, we occasionally would stop and wait.

David and William taking a break:



Here I am with the town of San Pablo in the background:



Maurice had arrived in San Pablo far ahead of us and had discovered that there was a small clinic with a medic (not a doctor). The medic examined Gérald’s injuries and concluded that Gérald had broken his collarbone and had perhaps separated some bones in his foot. Gérald accepted pain medication but refused the offer of an ambulance ride to the nearest large town (Tupiza, which was our destination for the evening). He wanted to continue riding in the chase truck, taking photos of the scenery and being with the rest of the group at stops.

We had a picnic lunch at the town square, in front of the large church:



Another view of the town:



A close-up of the church doors:


A side view of the church:



As we were leaving, I noticed that there was a soccer game being played in a large field at the edge of town:



Since the homes are made from mud and straw (things of the earth), they often blend in with the earth visually. Here are a few homes and a llama herd that we passed:



The rain clouds had been threatening off and on all day. During the afternoon, I had seen two bolts of lightning zip down from the sky--so long and brilliant that I had shouted “WOW” inside my helmet, grateful to have witnessed something so magnificent. We had to cross one final high mountain pass, and the dark clouds directly in front of us let us know that we were finally going to get wet.


After we started off again, I rounded a corner and found a rainbow directly in front of me, with the end stopping right on our road. What could be more perfect and true: the land of Bolivia, with all of its spectacular beauty, really IS the treasure at the end of the rainbow!




The rain then started pouring down. We started our climb up the large mountain, along a narrow dirt road with numerous switchbacks. As we climbed higher and higher, the rain turned to icy hail that stabbed our faces with painful jabs. The lightning flashes seemed very close, and the thunder boomed in my ears. I briefly wondered if anyone had even been struck by lightning while riding a motorcycle—and, if so, did they die. Finally, we crested the top and continued down the other side. It was hard for me to keep my eyes on the slippery road with all of the breathtaking views:






The hail eventually turned back into rain and then stopped completely. We took a short break to gather together and admire the view:

William, me, Maurice and Marc (notice the dark grey of my jacket from all of the rain):



Looking in the distance, I was excited to see the road we would be on soon:




A close-up:


Woo hoo! As we descended, we continued to enjoy the views of sculpted cliffs:



These are the canyons through which Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid rode, and they met their ultimate end not too far from here:







The canyon entrance to the town of Tupiza:



We were losing our daylight quickly, but we had to stop for one last photo of the gigantic and incredible shapes surrounding us:



Tupiza was our first “big” city since La Paz, filled with cars and buses, and lots of buildings and people—it was quite a culture shock after the last few days. Our hotel was quite plush, and we were served a superb dinner of cooked vegetables and beef steaks, which I (finally) was able to thoroughly enjoy! And we had a peaceful night’s sleep.
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RockyRoads screwed with this post 01-21-2008 at 02:54 PM
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