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Old 01-15-2008, 08:27 PM   #16
Katsumoto
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Excellent pics and commentaries, really captured the beauty and emotion of your ride.

Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:54 PM   #17
AndyT
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Thanks for the effort you put into your report. I flew back to the USA from South America one year ago today . My trip included quite a few of the places you went.

Who do you sponsor the Bolivian girl through, and would you recommend them?
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:18 PM   #18
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Thx for the excellent writeup

Kudos to you all - a fine report of a beautiful land and its gracious people.
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:52 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill the Duck
Bummer that you didn't get a chance to ride the second salar, that looked like a hoot!
As I was speeding across the Salar de Uyuni in the chase truck, I thought briefly about all the pictures I had seen of that salar and how I had looked forward to riding across it on a bike. But I was feeling SO INCREDIBLY ILL that those thoughts melted away quickly. Riding across the smaller solar the previous day was an incredible experience for me. Ben said that the bigger salar was smoother, with no bumps or water; he said that it was the only time he has ever ridden a motorcycle with his eyes closed going 85 mph for about a minute. (He started with a few seconds, then the next time more, and gradually worked his way up to a minute. I am not going to comment on the insanity of his little experiment, but let me say that I am not recommending that anyone try and beat his one minute time.)
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:03 PM   #20
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Excellent report, can't wait for the rest.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:32 PM   #21
RockyRoads OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyT
Who do you sponsor the Bolivian girl through, and would you recommend them?
I sponsor Maribel through ChildFund, and I highly recommend them. A few years ago, a family member had spent some time in the Dominican Republic and had seen what an incredible difference ChildFund sponsorships made in the lives of children there, providing the children with education and social services. So I looked into the organization. One of the things that really appealed to me was the ability to communicate directly with the sponsored child, via letters, and to establish a real relationship that grows and deepens over time. We now sponsor six children throughout the world, and I feel a strong connection to each of their families and communities. I can also see, first hand, the difference that my sponsorship makes in each child's life. ChildFund, as an organization, seems to be very well run and very responsive to questions or concerns that I may have. It also is very protective of the children (as it should be); in order to visit Maribel, Ben and I had to have background checks performed, and I was not allowed to speak privately to Maribel during my visit.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:52 PM   #22
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This is pretty tremendous...thanks.
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:21 PM   #23
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Excellent ride report!

Great pictures too. Can't wait for the next part
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:26 PM   #24
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DAY 8: SORATA TO SANTA ROSA

Our Sorata hostel:


We saw this bull from our window:



A view from the front of the hostel:


Today was my favorite day of riding—the roads were all dirt and the most challenging by far, with quite a few washouts and river crossings.

We started the day by returning to the town entrance for gas:





Here is the Sorata welcome sign:



We then began our fun-filled day of riding. We wound our way up the mountain behind Sorata, with a multitude of switchbacks. Here is a view of Sorata with the tall mountains behind it; the town is popular with hikers and mountain climbers (and has an altitude of about 8850 feet).


(We must have gotten a smudge or some condensation on our camera lens, as many of the following pictures have a white blur on them—sorry!)

The road was basically a dirt jeep trail, with a steep drop off on one side. Cars and jeeps would speed along this road with an apparent lack of concern about colliding head-on with other vehicles.




We came across many beautiful waterfalls. Here are William, Maurice, Ben and I in front of one, with a small water crossing:



On the other side of the road from the waterfall was a woman washing clothes:


(I am SO grateful for the convenience of washing machines.)

The roads would wind up and up and up, and then we would round a corner . . . and find ourselves on the other side of the mountain! Then we would wind down and down and down (with switchbacks galore) until we were near the bottom; there would usually be some type of water crossing over to the next mountain, and then we would start the process all over again, winding our way up the next mountain. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I would gasp with astonishment as I came around a corner and saw a magnificent view before me. Here is one of the views where you can see a series of switchbacks (someone pinch me—am I really here experiencing all of this?)



The wash-outs added to the fun of the day (I enjoy technical challenges):


(I must add that I loved the DR650--it performed beautifully through all of the water crossings, washouts and all types of terrain.)

One of the towns that we rode through:



Up to this point, I have forgotten to mention that there are numerous dogs in Bolivia that love to charge at, and chase, motorcycles. In every town, in both the altiplano and the jungle areas, it seemed there was at least one dog (sometimes a lot more) that would come charging out of nowhere to nip at our boots and tires as we were rolling along. Earlier today, I was making my way gingerly through a gigantic mud puddle that was stretched across the entire road, and a small dog lunged from the bushes; I thought that it was going for my boot, but at the last minute it swerved and made a suicide leap in front of my bike. I braked quickly, splashing water all over my goggles, and heard an ear-piercing shriek of pain (not mine)—I thought, “Oh no, I think I killed it!” Then as my goggles cleared, I saw the dog emerge from the puddle and run off down the hill as fast as it could go. Whew!

Another great view:



There were many herds of animals, sometimes walking in the middle of the road. Here is a woman with her herd:



We were often at the same level as the clouds:



Me, among the clouds:


Ben was having fun too:



Some houses with the clouds rolling in:



Another breathtaking (for me) view:



In this photo, you can see our road twisting down the mountain:



Some of the local people earn money by panning for gold in this river:


Here I am, with William; it is lunchtime, and we are waiting for Maurice to return from the village below with news of whether we can buy some lunch there:



We can! Here is the restaurant/store where we had a nice lunch of rice, meat and egg:


It is always interesting to see what types of goods are available for purchase in a small village. In the store where we had lunch, there were eggs, baby diapers, sugared sodas, tomatoes, crackers, toilet paper, and some other items.

There were a few children inside the restaurant checking us out. Before lunch, I had made friends with a little two-year-old, who I had sat on my bike. After lunch, there were quite a few kids who gathered around; I showed them the different motorcycle parts and let them toot the horn. Ben did the same. I also met the mother, Yula, of the two-year-old; I was able to talk (in Spanish) with her about her village, her children, and the surrounding mountains. (We did not meet many Bolivian people who spoke English.) Here I am with the wonderful group of children we met:



One crossing had a waterfall to one side; one slip and . . . . Here I am on the bike, ready to cross.



The crossing was actually quite tame, but the fact that the waterfall was right on the edge made it seem more difficult.

Another beautiful waterfall:


I just can’t keep from smiling:



During the late afternoon, the roads became steeper, with sharp hairpins and large sections of big loose rocks—definitely more challenging. We arrived in Santa Rosa in the late afternoon:



When we first arrived, and I pulled off my helmet, I soon had 8 young schoolgirls standing around my bike looking at me shyly, giggling a little, but not saying anything. I loved it! They were all dressed in their navy blue school uniforms, with plaid skirts. I sat on my bike and looked at each girl, greeting her individually and asking how she was doing. After a short time, we had to pull our bikes into the hotel courtyard, so I told the girls that I had to go. I never saw them again, but I won’t ever forget their sweet inquisitive faces.

Hotel Judith was very basic. It had a communal single bathroom, and our small room was extremely rustic but wouldn’t have been too bad if they hadn’t sprayed so much insect repellent in it that I could scarcely breathe. Ben and I had gotten our yellow fever vaccine before leaving the U.S., but there are no vaccines against malaria or dengue fever—both of which are spread by mosquitoes. We hadn’t had to worry about mosquitoes in the altiplano because those insects don’t live at such high elevations. Now that we were lower in altitude, we had to avoid getting bitten. Although I doubt that any insect could have survived all the chemicals in our hot room, we slept tonight under a mosquito net that Ben had bought for this trip.

A view of the hotel courtyard (the pool provided a pretty backdrop, but the water was an uninviting green color, so no one took a dip):


We ate outside at this table (I learned that if you sit under the florescent light, your plate becomes the landing pad for bugs—big ones--that hit the light and then do a freefall):




We had lively dogs outside our hotel door throughout much of the night. Ben swears that the dogs had tracked us down, as if we were escaped refugees, and had decided to park themselves outside our door and let the world know where we were.
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Old 01-15-2008, 11:48 PM   #25
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DAY 9: SANTA ROSA TO GUANAY

I was glad to leave Santa Rosa this morning. We had a very short day, only 71 miles, but we had two major river crossings to do. Maurice was not sure if the rivers were even passable.

A town that we rode through:



One insect we haven’t seen the entire trip: butterflies!


The first river had a very strong current, with lots of rocks under the water. Maurice decided against us riding across. After considering various options, he said that the crew would push the bikes across. The first bike, with Maurice, Rene, Hugo and David pushing (Ben offered to help, but Maurice said not to worry about it):









The chase vehicle carried the riders across. After Maurice and his crew had pushed the third bike across, this white pick-up truck appeared, and the driver agreed to let Maurice load the remaining bikes in the back of his truck to be carried across:




By the time all of the bikes were on the other side of the river, it was lunchtime. We had a picnic lunch and then rode onward.

We quickly reached the second river, which was much wider than the first:


There was a small village on the edge of the river, and our dilemma of how to get across provided some entertainment for quite a few of the children (and adults too).



After a while, this red pick-up came along and agreed to carry us and the bikes across the river:



(I was thinking that pick-up truck owners must be very popular people during the rainy season.)

While waiting for the bikes to be loaded, the heat was sweltering. I was reminiscing fondly about needing to wear my long johns in the cold altiplano air. I told Ben that I was imagining our next hotel with air conditioning. He said, “This is Bolivia.” And I said, “Hey, don’t ruin my dream!”

The rest of the ride passed fairly quickly. We were steadily descending in elevation, with continued wonderful scenery to enjoy:



Ben:



Another view (we are definitely not in the altiplano):



The town of Guanay was nestled in the green hills:



I loved this town! First we checked into our hotel:


Our room had its own bath, with hot water, and . . . drum roll please . . . there was a ceiling fan!!!! Even better than air conditioning (no loud machine noise). I felt like I had won the lottery!

As we pulled up to the hotel on our bikes, there was a little girl outside the hotel who stopped to watch. We chatted with her briefly—she was very smart; her name was Joanna, and she was 7 years old and in the third grade. When Ben and I came out of the hotel to take a stroll through town, Joanna was waiting for us with a children’s book that was written in English. It was a simple book about colors. Her grandmother had bought the book for her at the market for 2 Bolivianos ($.30), but they hadn’t been able to read many of the words. We knelt down with the book and went through the pages carefully, translating the English words into Spanish for her. Then she walked with us a bit until we reached her house.

Ben and I walked to the village plaza:



There, we found a tiny café with several outdoor tables. The owner was very welcoming. Ben and I enjoyed a drink and some small pastries together, watching the activities of the people around us. When it was time for us to pay, the owner said that the pastries were his gift, and he wouldn’t accept a tip for the drink either.

We had a good dinner of meat and rice in town. I got the opportunity to eat tripe for the first time—it was chewy like calamari but tasted “beefy”. From left to right: William, Marc, Hugo, Rene, David, Olivier, Ben and Maurice:


We had a solid night’s sleep . . . with the ceiling fan wafting air down on me all night long.



[DAYS 10-12 TO BE CONTINUED BELOW]

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Old 01-16-2008, 12:21 AM   #26
RonS
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What a wonderful adventure! Thanks so much for spending the time to take us along with you.
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Old 01-16-2008, 12:48 AM   #27
peter13
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That was just great,,your pics and commentary was excellent,,thankyou.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:36 AM   #28
mountaineer
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Wonderful.
Very nice trip.
Fully described.
Aptly pictured.
More, please.
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Old 01-16-2008, 03:15 AM   #29
SteveRed
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BRILLIANT!!! THANKS FOR THE REPORT
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Old 01-16-2008, 03:32 AM   #30
dirtypumpkin
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Awesome report & pics, thanks for sharing.
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