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Old 24 Jan 2013
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Returning home!
For us is not the time yet!
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Old 24 Jan 2013
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We are in the mountains but still this doesn’t quite feel “usual” for us. Which is a little bit odd as Andreea was born in Meridional Carpathians and I grew up close to Oriental Carpathians back in Romania. But here… strange things one has. At more than 3500 meters altitude, even if it is summer can get cold, real cold and in the same time, if you forget to use sunscreen for a few minutes you are burned. Literally. Here’s the end-of-day result of my burned face with the very sexy (uhmm not) ” motorcycle helmet pattern” .
You can notice as well the “central heating system” made out of 2-3 blankets (llama fur, very good) and hat from home. But, regardless of the cold, the posts on Micadu must go on, right?
And there is also another strange thing happening. We are in a wonderful natural place, the kind of place where you would say you go to take a “breath of fresh air”. Well, here you must really try hard for that breath of air as the oxygen is quite sparse.
We find ourselves waking up in the night breathing hard and not because we had a bad dream but just beacause our lungs are trying to compensate. And climbing 2 flights of stairs with luggage feels like 10. On the streets we wonder how the local youngsters vividly walk or run around without losing their breath over it…
Still, we lake the places very much. We are blessed with another sunny day (which I hear it is quite a big thing during the rainy summers) and we try to adapt as well as we can to the conditions, on our way to Cusco, the old Inca capital. Phill is following us patiently although I am sure he could have sustained a far greater pace. But we stick together and press on.
It is hard to say when we are left without breath due to lack of oxygen or due to incredible views. Curve after curve, the road snakes through green pastures, cleverly avoiding the higher peaks and lovingly hugging the slopes.
We are on llama territory and we are very happy to see them from up close.
We stop. Phill’s GPS says we are at a respectable 4400 meters. We needed a break anyway so we take our camera and try to get closer to the “ladies”.
But these ladies can have questionable manners, we’ve heard, as if they don’t like you enough they can spit you right in the face before moving along. We get lucky I guess as we “pass the test” and we are let to photograph them without getting spit…
It’s sunny, we are in an extraordinary place and the fact that we should make some progress and reach a certain place by tonight kind of fades away in the back of our minds. We will get there if we will get there. While Phill goes on in front, we decide to slow down, and turn off the tarmac road.
A loaded VStrom might not be the best bike to venture out on rocky terrain but hey, we are kind of venturing out of our safe zone for 6 months now. We carefully (and wobbly) plot a route through the rocks and get to a place… where you cannot see nothing else made by man. Only green lush pastures and lakes, guarded by white peaks and lighted up by a blue sky with white clouds. Stop. Don’t move. This is real! This is Peru! And you are here!
Back to the tarmac road, we meet Phill further down a few miles. He was waiting for us as we kinda lost track of time. And space. “I thought I lost you somewhere”. We explain why and he gets it. “Getting lost here might be dangerous, but at least is damn beautiful”. And it is not even all the time without people. We soon find small villages.
The small huts, with roods made out of straws and stone fences seem to just have come out from a story with knights and kings. And the small gardens and shelters for animals are like mosaic pieces spread on the slopes.
Of course, there is no electricity out here. And no running water or waste management. This is kind of to be expected. But even more, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of potable water around (as we don’t see many streams) and also there is no wood for heating. And in winters the temps can go really down at this altitude. We can only imagine the harsh life that these people can have. Still, they belong here. From thousands of years they’ve called this place home and they are bound by this land by the invisible links of their ancestors. For them, this is home. And it is always good to return home!
Like them, we too are bound by invisible links to a place, far far away, that we call home. For a second, the Andean air brought as the fresh pine smell from the Carpathians. We hope that we will be able to get safely and happily there, home, again. But not yet. Not just yet!
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Next time we have some hard decisions to make. Should we “splash out” and visit Machu Picchu? Will we find a way to do it minding our budget as well? And leaving Peru, should we head for Bolivia or directly for Chile? Stay tuned!
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Old 28 Jan 2013
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To Machi Picchu

Cusco is full of them. Banners, posters and lightly bright comercials., all of them offering various trips to Machu Picchu. There are people on the streats, offering as well trips, inviting you to their tourism agency to sit down for “the Machu talk” as we nickenamed it. But, once you start investigating you realize that in fact there aren’t so many options. At least not for the budget minded traveler. And this is because all the Macchu Picchu “universe” is a well greased, excelent functioning tourism machine. From the site admistion fee (a modic US$ 50 per person per day) to accomodation near the site, how to get to the entrance, and even how one can get close to Machu Picchu, everything is well thought of and is working like a clock. A “clock” though that costs a lot.

And I was mentioning, “getting to the site”. The idea is the following: Machu Picchu is on top of a mountain. In order to start the climb on that mountain you need first (obviously) to get somehow to the buttom of the mountain. There there is a single village Aguas Calientes, and to get to it, one has to take a train or… walk. There is no road and no other way. This should be interesting! So we are in Cusco and we have to make a decision. Well the decision is rather straightforward: we would really like to go to Machu Picchu. But you see, when it time to big spendings, after 6 mounths on the road, no decision is straightforward anymore. Not even the good coffee is not making it easier…

And the initial inquieries didn’t helped much. A 4-5 days Inca Trail trip (only ~US$1000 for 2) or a train ride (~US$200 plus all the costs with site entry and additionals), or maybe a 7 hours minibus ride, cheapest of the offerings (yet not really cheap) but somehow speding so much time in the bus, driven by a Peruvian driver didn’t appealed to us that much.

We toss the options back and forward and then we just think, why wouldn’t we skip all the tours, take our bike and ride it as close as possible to Machu Picchu (a village called Sata Teresa) and then make our way on our own to the top. Yeah, let’s do that.

But in order not to start “head first”, we ask around on AdvRider people who took the same route and also talk to Alex, owner of a bike rental in Cusco, figuring that he will know the road conditions. He tells us that we will have around 20 kilometers of tarmac, over a 4300 mountain pass and then around 30 kilometers of dirt roads in “OK condition”.

The road is 240 kilometers long out of which the last 30-40 are dirt. But the views until there are spectacular and full of Inca ruins.

When we asked about the weather Alex told us: “you are in rainy season, the question is not IF it will rain you, but how much and how heavy”. Mrrr, not the best of perspectives but indeed… 50 kilometers under way and we need to stop to put our rain gear. Here we go!

And this is happening just as we are approaching a mountain pass, at 4300 meters.

Normally when I am on tarmac I am not worried about rain. I just slow down and mind my way.

But the thing is… the fog is playing with us as well and there are parts where the tarmac just ends. So you get visibility like this:

And the road can get like this:

And there is something else: when you climb to above 4000 meters, you have to wonder if what you see on the tarmac is just water or there is maybe ice? I don’t have a thermometer and I do not know the temperature but it is getting cold. Really cold.

We get to the top of the pass but unfortunately we cannot see too much because of the clouds. We do see a sign that makes us feel good. It’s not because we did a big thing but because we know that this means we will start descending. Unfortunately we are still in the clouds.

And when the sun does come out, we feel like in a fairy tale:

The road descents about 4000 meters taking us into a… tropical climate, just to start the climb again, on the dirt this time.

Come on, just a little bit more to Santa Teresa. We are slowing down, following the road going up slowly. The river to our left is getting lower and lower. Way too low.

As it rains a lot during the summer (rainy season) all the rivers are bigger than expected. And there are not too many bridges, you have to cross through the water.

Ah, actually we did find a bridge. Notice there are no shoulders or railways and the only option to cross if you are on two wheels is to go “straight” on one of the wooden boards for cars, there are some boards missing in the middle.

Let’s just call it an…. interesting experience and all I could think of while crossing the bridge was that I will have to cross it back again… Scenery is impressive but there is no time for that either. The motorcycle is too heavy for this type of road. But that’s all we have so we have to deal with it.

We get to Santa Teresa and quickly looking for a place to park our bike. By total chance we end up in the same place that our friends from AdvRider.com were last year. So we are ready for the last leg until Aguas Calients, which can be done either by train or… walking. We manage to sync with the train’s schedule and catch it.

In Aguas Calientes we meet Phill who was 1 day ahead of us and was already coming down from Machu Picchu. He took the train tours to here and we congratulate him for his choice. It must be a very pretty ride. He wishes us good luck the next day and we are sure we will be meeting somewhere down the road again.

It’s early morning… and I mean very early! At 5 AM we are up and after a quick breakfast we head out for the buses that take the turists up to Machu Picchu. Although we are quite early the queue is already huge.

There are people waking up very early just to make sure they get up there while there are still few people in the ruins. We end up in the tenth or eleventh bus but still, when we enter the ruins we manage to get “that classic picture”.
Classic! But what a classic! This is one of the most impressive places I’ve seen in my life. The sun is also helping a lot as it shines from behind the clouds just in time.

Yes, Machu Picchu is a place worth seeing. One of the few I could say it “shines” above all the touristy propaganda.

We look around and we can’t get enough. Seeing is nice but hearing stories about this place would be even better. At the gates there are guids that offer their services. We try to get one but again (maybe because we are foreigners) we get a very “incredible” price. Hmm… that’s not going to work.

So… instead we approach an organized group and we ask if we can join in and share the costs to +2. They are very nice, say yes and the guide agrees as well so we join the group.

Things seem to arrange themselves quite nicely. Here we are, in Machu Picchu, reaching it on our own and then having a guide and a fun group to visit the site with.

After the guided tour is over we remain behind, findin a nice secluded place where we can have lunch.

Then we have a last look before descending into Aguas Calientes. The place is by now quite full of tourists but somehow, we still have with us the images from the early morning, when you could walk at your heart content through the empty ancient streets.

One could spend here days, entire days and still have things to discover. But this is true for a lot of places where we’ve been in the last six months. We are happy with the little time we had there, and most grateful that we had this opportunity. I wonder where the road will take us next?
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Old 28 Jan 2013
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great photos of machu picchu! it is such an amazing place.
glad you guys enjoyed it!
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Old 2 Feb 2013
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Last echos from Peru: 7 – 10 January 2013
We are out of Machu Picchu but we cannot really say that we really left yet as there is still a long way to “backtrack”. First we need to get back to the motorcycle. We took the train to get to Aguas Calientes but… we “went for a walk” on the way back following the train rails.

Light at the end of the tunnel? For us it was just the beginning of an 18 kilometers walk.

Gunnar was waiting for us patiently. While in Santa Teresa, before leaving for Aguas Calientes (Machu Pichhu), we were thinking to spend one night there before going back to Santa Maria and Cusco. But we saw the dark clouds approaching and decided to leave as soon as possible and take advantage of the (still) dry dirt road. So we pack everything quickly, inform our host that we will not spend the night there (and she was very understanding), and off we go.

It`s the same road I took 2 days ago but somehow it looks different this time, and not only because the backdrop is ow on the right side.

Unfortunately it starts raining before reaching the asphalt in Santa Maria so we have to ride through the rain on the last portion of gravel. We notice we are running low on gas so we ask where we can find gas that has at least 90 octanes (the two gas stations we see on the road have only 84 octane gas). We were told to go to the “shop”. And they were not joking. The only 90 octane gas in the area came in barrels.

I tried to look relaxed when the man came to me with the gas bucket. I don`t know if it worked or not.

We now have enough gas to continue our ride and decide not to go to Cusco anymore but head to Puno, a city close to Titicaca Lake and Bolivian border. Before getting there we still have to cross the same mountain pass again hoping we will be able to see more than the first time. Apparently the we will have clouds and rain this time as well.

But the sun fought on our side and as we got to the top, the sky seemed to clear more and more. Until…

All of you riding a motorcycle know the feeling. Now there is more than just the lines of the road, now I can see through the clouds. It`s not just cold and wet but sun, clearing sky and dry gear. While riding the motorcycle, sun coming out after the rain is a true blessing. The state of mind changes completely.

And there it is, we am not just riding for a destination. We forget that we need to get somewhere today, and just enjoying the ride. And when you are just riding for pleasure you can stop as many times as you want. So we stop in the mountain pass.

Crossing on the other side of the mountain we discover new places and sights. There is even a small village we didn’t see because of the clouds when we first came here and we even see the road winding down.

As we reach Puno we realize that our time in Peru is coming to an end. But we still have to make a very important decision: we go to Bolivia or head towards the ocean and go straight to Chile? We need visa for Bolivia. And we don’t really feel ready for it. But if we go straight to Chile we won’t get to see Salar de Uyuni and other special things that Bolivia has to offer. If we choose to go to Bolivia we have a good chance to remain in cold and wet as Bolivia is situated at high altitude also. Even getting to Puno, we were just behind a very serious rain storm, leaving hail marks behind it.

On the other hand, although Bolivia is the only country in Latin America that require a visa for Romanians, ironically we still feel attracted by it. So we give in and decide to go there. We have to dare. We will probably be out of our comfort zone here (and not just the thermic one), maybe more than in other countries, but we have to be optimistic.

OK, so we’ve decided to go, that means that first there is a trip to the Bolivian consulate in Puno in store for us. We are surprised to discover that it is not hard at all: a pile of documents- copies of different documents, our itinerary in Bolivia, hotel reservations (???), proof of yellow fever vaccination, passport format photos- and we have the new visa on our passports.
We were getting ready to say “goodbye” to Peru and we were thinking about our experiences here. So here are our thoughts about Peru. Before crossing to Peru we used to read other bikers’ stories and experiences which were not very pleasant at times and so, based on their stories we were expecting:
- aggressive drivers not paying attention to motorcyclists: indeed they are, but it’s not because they have something against motorcyclists, it’s the way they drive, that’s all they know. I think in Peru you get the driving license if you pass the “impulsive honking” test and “driving as close as you can to the car/ motorcycle on your left/ right/ front”. You have to acknowledge their way of driving and not take it personally. It’s hard not to take it personally, I know, when they get you off the road… but that’s something else.

- corrupted policemen asking for bribe: we didn’t meet any. The only policeman that stopped us on the way back from Machu Picchu did it because he wanted to know more about the motorcycle. We knew we didn’t do anything illegal so we stopped without worrying about it and so it was, he asked us a few pointless questions (how much does the moto costs, what’s the maximum speed), managing to get Andreea, who was wet and freezing, pretty angry – “this guy doesn’t have anything better to do?”- and then he let us go.

- rude people who see you as a walking dollar: if you go to touristy place you might end up being treated this way. It’s harder to find relaxed and welcoming people in Peru( Columbia seems so far away) who help you without asking for something in return, but it’s not impossible. Puquio was one of those places. And then we have to remember that the people are so different from country to country, having so diverse backgrounds and history that brought them to the way they are now in the present. So it is better not to judge their approach of handling “tourists” as it is not always a matter of choice but a matter of survival.

- double or triple prices just because you are a tourist: yes we did have them, maybe more than in other countries. For example, I think since Guatemala we haven’t had a “on the fly” price change of a meager water bottle just due to the way we were dressed or Spanish we spoke. Well, in Peru I got a straight blow when, telling a lady from a store that I know the water price is a “special” one just for me she didn’t even denied: “I can tell by the way you are dressed that you have a lot of money”. Yeah, what can I say? I can only smile and leave the store politely , convincing myself not to judge all Peruvians by particular behavior and making a note to self that if I were to work in the tourism industry, I would treat everyone equally. And we did meet in all the countries we visited wonderful people, honest people, who saw us as human beings and not just an opportunity. And Peru was no exception. One just has to be patient and really want to get to know them.

But apart from all these points from previous experiences we read about – and I can say there weren’t so bad for us (or we didn’t take them too personally), Peru was an extraordinary experience and we are grateful for having the chance to visit it on our way South! Thank you and goodbye!

Wondering how Bolivia will be like?
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Old 5 Feb 2013
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…30! 3rd of February 2013
I know that the next episode was supposed to be The New World IV.13 and the topic should have been Bolivia, but… let’s make a big jump ahead and talk about the day which just ended.
A special day? Normally not really. I usually do not make a big case about the 3rd of Februarys in my life. But this time… it was a special day, beautiful and in the same time strange and also very very hard. One of the hardest days from this trip.
In the morning we wake up in a cold room, with the sound of rain drops outside the window. But, by the time we are out at the bike and loading our stuff, the things already improved: no more rain.

A day which normally would have been a very lazy one (at least today from all the days of the year, no?) started this time early and in a rush to catch the ferry, the only ferry of the day leaving from Punta Arenas. But hey, the beauty of it is that this is not just a ferry, for us is THE ferry that will take us to Tierra del Fuego.
I still remember when I was working at micadu.ro website almost 1 year ago, I was afraid event to write that we plan to go all the way to Tierra del Fuego. And here we are, just a straight away. We embark with rain again but then, here it is again, the beauty of the day:
“And what are you going to be doing today?” asks Andreea. “I do not know exactly. We should be crossing from Chile to Argentina (again), and then… we’ll see where we will sleep for the night.” So I don;t know much about what’s going to happen, but I do know that right now, I am crossing the Magellan Straight. The one that I was reading, beaing a little boy, in Geography lessons. Feels so unbelievable to be here. Fortunately the waters are calm…
And we also have company. A very playful one.
And this is it, we set foot on Tierra del Fuego. It is happening!
“And on which roads are you going to ride today?” Andreea asks. “I don’t know very well that neither” Our GPS is long broken (yet another thing who gave up on us) and our map is just showing some ripio roads to the boarder. Not much details but hey, the beauty of the day again… here is the amazing scenery:
While still on the ferry, we were told that 60+ miles/hour winds are expected today. At least, a good portion of the road the wind was from the back. So again, we get to marvel the surroundings.
It’s a busy day, but we do have time to stop at the beach as well. You know, the kind of beach that Andreea loves so much. What? no swimming? Let’s blame it on the fact that our bathing suits were not very easily reachable. Hmmm right…
It is so cold that even the boats seem to prefer being out of the water.
Another nice surprise comes from the border customs. The formalities are super rapid and we find ourselves in no time in Argentina. Southern Argentina.
The winds insists on crossing the border with us as well and this time, the road takes us to a different angle. It is bad. It is very bad. I can barely hold the bike and attempting to ride in a straight line is just a joke. It is probably the toughest ride I ever done in my life. But hey, the extreme happiness when you manage to avoid being throned into incoming lane is beyond description. With that, we don’t have any pictures (as Andreea had better things to do… like hold on to me as hard as she could:P) but here is a tree receiving the same treatment from the wind. The picture is very very real:
To stop, there is no place. There is no forest, no hill no nothing to at least remotely protect you. The only thing to do is go on until the nearest town which is some 45 miles away. Nice and slow and eyes on the incoming traffic. We reach Rio Grande and find a nice and warm place to sleep in. After such a day, on this day, no tent for us. From inside, the wind seems a beast, howling angry that we’ve escaped. Inside is nice and peaceful.

We are in Tierra del Fuego and we’ve passed today through some extraordinary places and… events. But the day is special for other reason: even though we are so far away, your nice thoughts and wishes, still found us here and made me smile. Thank you! Ushuaia is close now…
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Old 5 Feb 2013
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super excited for you guys! so close now!
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Old 6 Feb 2013
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Dear friends, we've made it. End of the road, but for sure we hope not end of the trip! So stick around!

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Old 6 Feb 2013
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Great Job!

Fantastic reading about your travels. You are a year ahead of me but have given me some great insights of places to visit. Look forward to your next post!

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Old 7 Feb 2013
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Guys, thanks for following along. Sometimes seems a little lonely here but, we are glad that it is not like that

Getting back where we left the story, here is the next installment:

First days in Bolivia: 10 – 12 January 2013

After the short step forward from the storyline with the 3rd of February post, it is time to get back to the “present” time of our story and that “present” means the border between Peru and Bolivia.
As I was riding towards the Bolivian border I remembered something the guide at Machu Picchu told me: the Incas had 3 main laws:
-not to lie
-not to steal
-not to be lazy

The leaders would make sure that, at least, the 3rd law would be obeyed so they tried to keep the Quechua people busy all the time. Why? Simple reason: Inca believed that if people are busy working they won’t have time to plot against their leaders or rebel. It’s ironic how sometimes the ancient wisdom gets lost with the years. Long time after the Inca empire, Peru and Bolivia (old Inca territories) had only a few years of peace and tranquility since gaining their independence from the Spanish. I was reading somewhere that during 200 years after Bolivia gained it`s independence there have been more than 200 government overthrows, riots, military insurrection and other types of armed rebellions. Peru had a little bit more peace but not by much. That makes you wonder…
But let`s get into Bolivia. The border crossing goes smooth and fast. The border we cross it`s not so used, they had the “barrier” on most of the time.

The Bolivian authorities are very friendly and try to give us all sorts of recommendations. We are almost surprised that we are talking to them for more than 20 minutes and they don`t ask us THE question, a question we got used to hear in Peru and that started almost every conversation we`ve had with a Peruvian: “How much does the motorcycle costs?”. They seem to care a lot about this aspect here. I don`t feel at ease when I am asked how much my motorcycle is worth. I cannot understand in which way knowing how much I payed for Gunnar, in another country, from another continent, will help these guys. We almost leave the border when… the guardian cannot hold it anymore and pops the question: “Buuuut, how much does the motorcycle cost?”. Uh, so we will get that question here to. Hmm we need to find a way to avoid a direct answer to this. But until then, welcome to Bolivia!

We spent the first Bolivian night in Copacabana. Not the one by the ocean, where Portuguese is spoken but Copacabana by Lake Titicaca, where luckily for us Spanish is spoken (we need to get tarted on our Portuguese lessons).

There is a holiday feeling about it. Many foreign tourists,

but even more locals.

We try to sit aside and watch the crowd assaulting the cruise boats and all the other “attractions” by the lake.

Then we decide to go check out the market, where you can find everything…

We say “goodbye” to Copacabana the next day and head to La Paz, not being the only ones waking up early.

As we are still on an island we have to get to a ferry, time for another interesting experience.

Before getting on one of the wood boats Andreea goes and asks one of the guys how much is a crossing for one motorcycle and two passengers. She is told it`s 10 bolivianos. That`s fine. Let`s do it.

As we were crossing the lake I watch patiently the two locals spitting sunflower seeds and throwing all sorts of garbage in the lake. Being in a foreign country and a meager tourist, for sure it was not my place to say anything so I just stood there and observed. But I could not help thinking how illogical their gesture was. We saw the same attitude in the Danube Delta, when a local guide we hired for a boat ride, casually threw the bottle he just finished (during his working hours) in the Danube. Leaving ethics and other ecology-related arguments aside…. their actions are nonsense from a pure economic point of view as well. The main source of income for this touristy places is… well the land mark that is the attraction for the tourists. So tourists come to these places for the Danube Delta, or Titicaca Lake or the mountains and so on. Simple logic or even selfishness should tell them that they should take good care of the “landmarks” that bring the tourists (and money) to their area. So why on Earth would you work on cutting the branch from underneath your feet by throwing trash everywhere? And then, one day, they end up asking themselves why the tourists aren`t coming anymore to visit their wonderful natural wonders. Hmmm, I should stop watching these two men spitting sunflower seeds in their “golden geese”. Titicaca is an extremely beautiful place. Still.

Oh well, so here we are on the other side, same gentleman that kept spitting sunflower seeds in the lake the whole “trip”, comes to me asking for 20 bolivianos. “How does that work, it was 10 on the other side and now it`s 20?” Damn inflation… “Here`s 10, that was the deal and I wish you good luck with everything”!
I am walking to my motorcycle that was already off the boat and the man keeps following me, desperately asking for 20 bolivianos. I explain to him once more, in Spanish, that he was the one telling Andreea that the crossing is 10 and there is absolutely no reason for the price to double now. For a few moments he cannot find an argument about the doubling of the price but then he is back: “OK, then give me 15!” Now I am shut, trying to figure out his reasoning.
“No, it will not be 15 either, it will be 10, like you’ve said on the other side. And really now, good bye, have a nice day” And without waiting for another “bargain” I leave Andreea is depressed by this “approach” of the men at the crossing and lake Titicaca seems to follow her mood as it gets darker and rainy.

Until now, we were running on gasoline from Peru in our tank (90 octanes – European measurement standard). But the tank was getting empty so it was time to go to our first Bolivian gas station. I must admit that I didn`t do my homework regarding this aspect. But I knew that foreigners have to pay more for gas than the locals. So here I am at the first gas station. Silly me, asking them for premium gas. The lady looks at me compassionately. “We only have one type of gas”. “Very well, what`s the octane number?” She is shrugging her shoulders, as if trying to tell me “If I`m telling you we only have one type of gas, why are you asking me more questions? You will anyway have to get this one since there is nothing else”.

I agree to her unspoken reasoning so I ask her to fill up the tank (praying for that gas to have at least 87 octanes on European standard measurement). Just when I thought that octane number would be my main worry, here come another one. I would have to worry for not being a Bolivian. Of course I am not, I from another place, far far away. But I want to think that I am a nice guy, so could you please help my by giving me some gas so I can be on my way, visiting your wonderful country?. “Well, then I cannot sell you any gas.” “How come?” “There is a different (higher) price for you and I would have to give you a different receipt.” “Aaaaah, Ok… so lets do that?” “I don`t have that type of receipt.” “Oh, really…. and if I am running out of gas?” There goes another useless question from my side. I am looking at the sign displaying the international price, asking myself what is the real reason that stops me from filling up my tank, is it the lack of ”special receipt” or the lack of willingness to do the extra effort to fill the dreaded thing?

And I feel bad about it, I feel like asking a favor or for pity, and that is not OK. Fortunately we still have enough gas to take us closer to La Paz where we manage to find another gas station, get some gas seasoned with some kind of unfriendly looks, for 3 times the normal price. Get my 2 receipts. One for supporting the gas station and the other for supporting the state. But no problem, the bright side of things is that we can move on. Life is good, even if this time we had to pay triple for that.

But rules are meant to be obeyed. I know that they have this rules in an attempt to stop trafficking of Bolivian subsidized gasoline to neighboring countries. But I think it would be easy to recognize that this measure should not be applied to tourists, especially when they just want to buy 15 liters of gas for their motorcycle. In Ecuador and Venezuela gas is subsidized but somehow they managed to avoid annoying the visitors with such laws. Anyway, these are just random thoughts while I store my receipts away. We are not here to judge, it is better to just enjoy the places we see and people we meet.
Now our tank is full and we are ready to head towards the capital of Bolivia. Did I say “we were ready”? No, we were not. I don`t know if it was because of the rain, the mud or both, but it seemed to us like we were crossing into a chaotic world, and traffic didn`t seem to obey any rules. Cars coming in and out of the main road without signals, without looking left or right and apparently we are always the ones that did not had the right of passage, as everybody else seemed to just ignore our presence and continued on their path counting on us to stop and give way, even if we were on the main road. And don’t even get me started on the round-abouts

Unfinished buildings shine in the mud puddles. Extravagant (wannabe) houses next to humble abodes barely rising out from rubble and garbage.

We know we are not doing the right thing, for sure there are nice places in La Paz but we decide not to stop here even before reaching the city center. We need a break from “civilization” and “urban”. We follow the road to Oruro and leave the capital city as fast as we can. We regret not spending at least one day here. But we didn`t have anything booked, didn`t know anything about hotels or other details (safe neighborhoods and so on) and we just got “soften up” by the size of the city and the crazy traffic. So one last picture from the steets and of we go towards Oruro.

Bolivia is a pretty large country. But the geographic location and lack of funds makes the number of paved roads quite low. Actually, there is a list on the internet. And you can count on your fingers the paved roads listed there. This can be a good thing as many of the amazing places in Bolivia remain like that exactly because the only way to get there is on a dirt road. But, we try to stay on the main paved roads. And still get to discover a lot of beautiful places.

We enjoy Bolivia. We want to enjoy Bolivia. But in order to fully appreciate it, we have to get used very fast to some different approaches and communications patterns. Let`s see if we can adapt.

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Old 7 Feb 2013
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This morning we woke up and there was a lot of fresh snow on the mountains surrounding the city. Ha, and it's supposed to be summer here. We decided to take a "vacation from the vacation" for 10 days and that means no internet, e-mail or phone until February 17.

See you on the other side
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Old 18 Feb 2013
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As I've notice quite a lot of mistakes in my report I got a little bit horrified and promised myself a "re-read" and a proper cleaning up once we will get home. In order for this to function properly I need to have access in a centralized place to all the "text and lyrics".

So from this post onwards I intend to post here the first 2-3 pictures from the story and then provide a link to Micadu website for the rest. I figure it shouldn't be more difficult to read, and you can most definitely go on with the comments here, on this thread, as it is more easy read by everybody than on our website

Here we go...

Still trying to get out of Bolivia with the stories. But somehow we are delayed again. This time with a good reason: Salar de Uyuni!

Salar de Uyuni: 12-14 of January
We had plans to take a detour, starting from La Paz, into the Amazon basin on the (in)famous Death Road. But since we couldn’t find the inter strength to stop in the capital, we find ourselves now on our way to the next “landmark” that we would like to see: Salar de Uyuni. But to get there we first need to head towards Potosi.
Then, using a newly asphalted highway (just finished in december 2012), we make our way through beautiful landscape.

We have around 200 kilometers to go and we are really enjoying ourselves. This is what motorcycles are made for!

Open roads, bright colors, blue skyes! Uhuuu!

The continuation of the story, on micadu, right here!
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Old 19 Feb 2013
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One day in Argentina: 15-16 January 2013
Leaving Uyuni is not that easy as we have to sneak through the line of cars waiting for their turn at the only gas station in the area. We didn’t manage to figure out if the line was that long because there was no gas at the pump or because the whole village wanted to fuel up at the same hour of the morning.

We don’t have to join them in line as we have our spare gas canister that will take us out of here, to the next, hopefully uncrowded, gas station. We are heading back the same way we got to Uyuni just that this time it seems drowned in a summer day’s laziness. We get to a small village where we were supposed to find gas. Hmmm… Some other times maybe. Now everyone is enjoying their siesta….

Read the rest on micadu, right here.
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Old 21 Feb 2013
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h.u., meetings

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