Loving La Paz
Bolivian Altiplano Part 1 - Tholar to Oruro

September 29, 2017

After almost a week off in La Paz getting our bearings and doing some serious route planning, we headed out.

What happened…

Andrew writes: A bit of a shit-show today to get out of La Paz. First, we rode to DHL where I was picking up a replacement motor since I had been without one for about a month. We got there, paid the exorbitant customs fees, I cracked open the box, grabbed the motor, began to install it, and cried. A mounting bracket that I need to attach the motor to my bike accidentally got shipped back to Austria when we were in Cusco. So no motor for me. Nuts.

Next, we spent a bunch of time and effort first locating, and then navigating the Teleferico system (Gondola). We had to unload/reload our bikes and carry them up two flights of stairs at each end…of two separate gondola lines. What a pain in the butt! We met some other cyclists though who told us we had some challenging riding ahead past Uyuni. Once we were high above La Paz we set off down the main highway.

Eventually we caught up to a South African bloke who was on his 6th year of his bicycle tour. He seemed nice enough, and I rode and chatted with him, until he ran out of breath and dropped back. He couldn’t get his bicycle and trailer onto the gondola and therefore had to endure a combination of traffic and super-steep hills to exit La Paz earlier in the day and just wasn’t as “fresh” as Amanda and I were having spent a week off the bikes. There was a German guy too. Both he and the South African were set on making life difficult and heading offroad on some crazy salt-desert adventure. I was having none of it! I want to stay on the highway all the way to Ushuaia. Eventually we reached the shitty town of Tholar where three of us stayed at the same overpriced hotel, shared a meal together and had an early night. The South African guy is on a super-strict budget so he is camped out in the gale-force winds someplace. Poor bloke.

Amanda writes: Andrew doesn’t get mad or upset very often but when he realized he shipped back an important piece to Austria, there was a lot of swearing. I just sat back and let him do his things. There was nothing to be gained by me adding my complete annoyance at the huge custom fees. These motors are closing in on a half year budget price point and they’ve never worked properly. There are worse things in life, and its only money. We’re healthy and we haven’t killed each other yet.

So once we finished our useless trip to DHL we headed out of town. The day was pretty boring aside from the massive and numerous volcanoes we were riding past. We talked with the other cyclists about flat tires because there was a lot of crap on the shoulder. The German had already been victim to the crap and we would find out the next morning that we too were impacted by it. On this day we came across a really bad vehicle accident. It’s not something I would normally mention but vehicle accidents are so rare in Latin America and I attribute that to the fact that most people driving are professionals. Not many people have a vehicle so it’s just buses and taxis being driven by guys that do it for a living. Drivers are really courteous to each other and really try not to hit each other. Even if someone pulls out in front of you, you just slow down and not hit them. Everyone wants to get where they are going safely.

Well someone made a mistake today, a fatal one. It looked like a collectivo which is a 12-20 passenger van (depending on how many people cram in) pulled out in front of a bus and got t-boned. All the passengers were sitting on the side of the road near a body that was laying flat with someones blanket or shawl on the body, feet sticking out. It was a pretty somber scene. Stay safe out there everyone!

The aerial view of our rides:

Today’s Photographs

Loving La Paz
Bolivian Altiplano Part 1 - Tholar to Oruro