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  #121  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airdale74451 View Post
Hey Troy. Great job with your blog. I'm leaving in a few days to follow your trail. There are so many negative remarks about Mexico and so it was nice to read your account of the accident with the taxi.

twowheelsthreeamericas

-Dale
Dale,

You'll be fine. Just ride with care. Ride like a local. Whenever I would get stopped by the police or military, my trick was to always ask them for assistance. "Donde estamos?" "Es possible ayudarme?" It puts them in the position to help you. It changes the dynamic completely. Mexico has some truly amazing roads. Enjoy!

Troy
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  #122  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Santa Cruz, Bolivia Street Art

After two days of tough riding, I landed in Santa Cruz. I checked into a hotel and went for a walk. Near the center of town, I came across some interesting street art.








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  #123  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Think of the Possibilities

While walking around Santa Cruz, I spotted this tuk tuk for sale. Think of the possibilities!

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  #124  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Friends, Food and Fixin' Things in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

I met up with some friends that were visiting Bolivia.

Noel, Dave, Steve and Pat were in Bolivia on a mission trip. We had a chance to walk around the city center a bit and enjoy a nice dinner of asado (bbq). There were some other friends that I got to see as well that were not in this photo. Big ups... Gaylord, Caris, Leslie, Sophia, Cara, Ricky and Candace. It was great to see you all.

Dave brought me some motorcycle parts that I had ordered online... a new chain, a front and rear sprocket, chain roller, gas filter and a tank bag.

The next day, I took the chain and sprockets to this Suzuki dealer and asked them to install the parts and perform some other maintenance. Emi had reached her 20,000 mile (32,000 km) anniversary. It was time to give her some tender loving care. The shop installed the new chain, sprockets, chain roller, gas filter, and performed an oil and filter change, air filter cleaning, lube, carb adjustment, valve adjustment and a washing. As a result, Emi was looking good and feeling good.

While in Santa Cruz, I wanted to obtain a visa for Paraguay. I visited the Paraguay consulate office which was not far from the town center. The staff member was helpful and explained the process to me. I needed to fill out a form. Check! I needed to provide a passport photo. Check! I actually was carrying one with me, so it worked out fine. And, then I needed to go to the Mercantil Santa Cruz Bank and deposit US$100 into a specific account. No problem...

Except that the police were on strike across the nation. It was a pretty intense situation for a while. There was news coverage of the striking police officers taking over police stations and wielding their weapons. Businesses were not opening.

Which meant the Mercantil Santa Cruz Bank was closed because of security concerns. People were still lining up outside the bank with the hope that they would be able to access their accounts. But I waited around for two days and the bank did not open. Which meant that I was not going to be able to deposit money in the bank to pay for my visa for Paraguay.

Sometimes, you just have to make it up as you go.

So instead of waiting in Santa Cruz for the police strike to end, I decided that I would take a trip to a little visited area in eastern Bolivia.
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  #125  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, Bolivia

One of my favorite films of all time is called The Mission.

The Mission is a 1986 British drama about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in 18th century South American. Back in the day, the film collected a number of prestigious awards from the Cannes Film Festival, the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.
See Video
Here is a scene from the film.

Based on historical facts, the film takes place in an area that stretches across Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. There is a grouping of Jesuit missions in eastern Bolivia. It is a little off the beaten path for most travelers, but being on a motorcycle, I thought that I would check it out.

So I hopped on my bike and headed north and east down a dirt road.

The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos are located in eastern Bolivia. These former missions collectively were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Distinguished by a unique fusion of European and Amerindian cultural influences, the missions were founded as reducciones de indios by Jesuits in the 17th and 18th centuries to convert local tribes to Christianity. In 1767 there was an expulsion of the Jesuits from the area and many of the settlements turned to ruins. A large restoration project of the missionary churches began with the arrival of the former Swiss Jesuit and architect Hans Roth in 1972.

On the way to the mission area, I passed by some lush green farming areas.

It was a very picturesque ride with small lakes and rivers and rolling green hills. It looked like scenery fitting to be in a film.

The first town that I visited was San Xavier (San Javier).

Initially established in 1691, the mission of San Xavier was the first of the missions listed as a World Heritage Site.

The church was built between 1749 and 1752 by the Swiss Jesuit and architect Fr. Martin Schmid. The school and church, as well as other characteristics of residential architecture, are still visible today in the village.

The original inhabitants of San Xavier were the Piñoca tribe.

San Xavier was restored by Hans Roth between 1987 and 1993.

The wooden structure was meticulously restored by local wood carvers both inside and outside.

Along with many of the religious artifacts.

As I was about to leave, I spotted this young boy hanging around the front of the mission.

Then he was joined by his sister and pet dog. As they road off, I snapped this image... capturing the two kids and their dog at play.

I rode on.

For the full story visit The Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos, Bolivia
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  #126  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... 10 Things I Have Learned About Riding A Motorcycle In LA


These are 10 things that I have learned about riding a motorcycle for a year around Latin America. I do not know if they can be generalized or applied for life in general, but perhaps they can.

1. A big motorcycle gets you attention, a small motorcycle gets you inside.
2. One can source and repair just about everything, just about everywhere for the Suzuki DR650.
3. Ride like a local, which usually means on the far right side of the road.
4. Ride slow around, through and over obstacles.
5. A friendly proactive horn beep is better than angry reactive horn blast.
6. It is not necessary to "fully speak" the language, but it is necessary to "attempt to speak" the language. It will always lead to better accommodation, food, drinks and experiences.
7. Asking for help, directions or suggestions is not an indication of weakness, it is an opportunity for others to participate in the journey.
8. Eat the menu del dia (menu of the day).
9. Smile, you are on vacation.
10. Adjust your attitude to the latitude.
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  #127  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Perhaps the Best Meal of My Trip

I had perhaps the best meal of my trip. Strangely, it was not in a big city or a fancy restaurant. It was in the small town of Concepcion, Bolivia in a small restaurant just off the central plaza called El Buen Gusto.

The restaurant was set inside a colonial style patio house. There was soft music playing in the background. I sat toward the front of the restaurant which allowed me to to see both the tables inside and people passing by outside.



The meal started off with a vegetable soup.



The second course was a self service salad bar... vegetables are sometimes hard to come by in Bolivia.



I was thirsty from traveling so I ordered a jarra de limonada (jar of limonade). I had no problem finishing it off.



The main course was orange chicken with rice and potatoes.



And I elected to try the strawberry cake for dessert.
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  #128  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Samaipata... A Bit of Serenity in Bolivia

I spent two days in Santa Cruz. Principally to apply for a visa to enter Paraguay. The Bolivian police strike had ended, so the banks were open once again. I was able to complete all the tramites (paperwork) and submitted my application. Sure enough, within 24 hours I had my visa!

I decided to head back toward Sucre. Along the way, I stopped in a little town called Samaipata. Samaipata is a Quechua word that means: The Height to Rest. With its delightful subtropical climate and an altitude of 1600–1800 meters it tempts foreigners to settle.


The little village is kind of a Micromundo where about 25 nationalities now live together in harmony and peace. The town is small with numerous colonial buildings and narrow cobbled streets.







For the full story visit Samaipata
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  #129  
Old 25 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Doubling Down on the Dirt

From Samaipata I continued down the road to Sucre.

I usually do not like to ride the same route twice, but my options were somewhat limited. I wanted to make my way to Sucre. There was a southern route, which I estimated would take three or four days to arrive in Sucre. So, I elected to take the northern route, which I estimated would take two days or as little as one day. But it meant that I would be traveling a route which I had ridden previously... a route that I knew was mostly gravel, dirt and loose sand. So I doubled down on the dirt and hoped that I would have a little luck.

The ride started out along a nice twisty asphalt road.

But then it soon turned to gravel. I knew what to expect. After many days of riding on gravel and sand, I felt comfortable tackling the terrain. I just needed to stand up and move with my motorcycle.

So I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

Mountains beyond mountains.

Then I came upon this. Outside of the town of Saipina, there was a bloqueo (road block) due to construction. This was the same bloqueo that I came across before. I was told that the construction crew would let traffic through between 12-2pm and after 6pm. It was about 3pm... I had missed the window of opportunity... so I was in for a wait.

So, I pulled back away from all the dust created by the construction and waited. The dirt digger kept digging and I kept waiting. Eventually, two other motorcyclists on small bikes arrived on the scene. We assessed the situation. We debated if we could ride over the mound of dirt and gravel. To the right (uphill) of the dirt digger there was not any space. To the left (downhill) of the dirt digger there was about one foot of space... then a cliff with a drop-off of 100 feet. Risky. As we were discussing the issue, the head construction engineer approached us and interjected that he would not allow us to ride over the mound. Oh...well...time to relax.

So, I decided to do a little checkup on my motorcycle. This is what my motorcycle setup looks like now. I have a Giant Loop Great Basin bag, GL Fandango tank bag, Pelican case, tent, empty extra gas tank and the orange bag holds my rain gear. And depending on the road conditions... dirt. All good.

Then something strange was happening near the construction area. I was off at a distance and could not quite determine what was going on. So I approached the construction area to obtain a better view. It appeared that one of the motorcyclists had crossed over to the other side of the dirt digger. I did not see him crossover, so I did not understand how he accomplished it. But then the other motorcyclist was attempting to cross. This is what they did.

The motorcyclists had negotiated with the operator of the dirt digger. The operator placed the shovel of the machine on the ground. Then the motorcyclist backed his bike into the shovel. The operator lifted the moto and motorcyclist with the shovel, swung them around the edge of the cliff and deposited them on the other side. I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes. Ingenious. The Bolivians are geniuses at creative solutions for everyday obstacles. Unfortunately, I was not quick enough to get out my camera and take a video or photo. Equally unfortunate, my motorcycle was too large and would not fit inside the shovel of the dirt digger, so I would have to continue to wait.

I waited until about 6pm... and then like Bolivian clock work...ha ha... the road was opened.

I rode on for about an hour and then it turned dark. It is always a little precarious riding in sand, but riding in sand and at night was a little crazy. There was no moonlight... there was just black (see the picture above). I road on for about 30 minutes and came across a faint light. The light led me to a small cafe. I could not really say that the cafe was part of a village, because there really were no other structures around. It was just one small cafe in the middle of darkness. An old man at the cafe told me that I should ride for 30 minutes more to the next village of Perez. There I should ask for Dona Juana. She sometimes offered travelers a room in her house. So, off into the darkness I rode. I arrived in the village of Perez and asked for Dona Juana. Either I had the wrong name, wrong village or Dona Juana was hiding from this gringo. I could not find her. Anyways, I asked if there was a place that I could stay.

The consensus among the good people of Perez was that I could pop up my tent in front of this business that was closed. The owner was not around and was not expected to return for a number of days. I asked if it was safe. Everyone said that I "should" be okay.

And as it turned out.., everything was okay. I woke early the next morning to complete the journey to Sucre. Before I left Perez, a gentleman told me that the road ahead would be closed starting at 8am for a motocross race. I thought that was cool... they close an entire road...the only road... for a motocross race. I decided that I should ride quickly with the hopes of surpassing the road closure. I wanted to see the motocross race, but I wanted to reach Sucre as well. So, off I rode. At one point there was a small bloqueo. A man at the bloqueo said that the road was closed for the motorcycle race. I said that I just wanted to go a little further to watch the race. It was not a lie. I wanted to see the race, but I really wanted to get ahead of the race. He let me ride pass. The family waiting at the bloqueo did not look happy. I rode quickly.

For the full story visit Doubling Down on the Dirt
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  #130  
Old 30 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... The Backroad of Bolivia

See the video

This is a link to a short 3 minute video with scenes of traveling around the backroads of Bolivia. The scenes include some segments of riding over asphalt, gravel, dirt, sand through a dry river bed.

Watching the Wheels


People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game,

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me,
When I tell that I'm doing Fine watching shadows on the wall,
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem, Only solutions,
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind,
I tell them there's no hurry...
I'm just sitting here doing time,

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

- John Lennon
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  #131  
Old 30 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Kids and Kart Races in Sucre

I was walking around Sucre and came across this banner near the central plaza.

The banner reads National Race of Karts without Motors...Finish!. It appears that every year Sucre hosts a push kart race for youth. There were entries from different regions of the country and divisions based on age.

I met this crew on the street. There is always one driver and one pusher. They can switch places during the race. The driver drives and the pusher pushes. The pusher hops on the back of the kart on some of the downhill sections.

The crew proudly introduced me to their kart. A classic build... 4 wheels, wooden planks, pad brakes, push bar and helmets.

This little guy had an amazing kart made mostly with wood. Notice the wooden wheels wrapped with rubber for traction. He steered the kart with a cord attached to the front axle.

For the full story and a short video visit Kids and Kart Races in Sucre
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  #132  
Old 30 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Classic Motorcycles

There seemed to be a number of classic motorcycles in Sucre.


Zanella

Yamaha 125

Honda CB350

Moto Guzzi

Paggio Scooter

For more photos visit Classic Motorcycles
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  #133  
Old 30 Sep 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Museo de Arte indígena ASUR

I visited the Museo de Arte indígena ASUR (Museum of Indigenous Art).

The mission of the museum is to protect and preserve the artisan work of the indigenous population. The museum contains a collection of Jalq’a and Candelaria (Tarabuco) weavings and offers instruction on techniques used to produce the traditional textiles.

To arrive at the museum one must climb a small cobblestone hill.

Once inside, one can see artisans at work creating various forms of textiles

It is generally a handmade process.

The artisans take yarn from sheep or alpaca and create masterpieces.


For the full story and more photos visit Museo de Arte indígena ASUR
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  #134  
Old 8 Oct 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Salteñas... a Culinary Delight in Bolivia

In Northern Argentina and Southern Bolivia there are these confections known as Salteñas. Salteñas are savory baked pastries filled with chicken, beef or pork, mixed with vegetables like potatoes, peas, olives and infused with a sweet sometimes spicy sauce. I found them in many places, but Sucre seemed to have some of the best. They are often available in corner convenience stores, but the best are found in specialty Salteñas Cafes. And they are best eaten when they are fresh out of the oven and hot!

These are three examples of different Salteñas. From left to right Santa Clara (Sweet Chicken), Carne (Beef) and Pollo (Chicken).

This cafe called El Patio had some of the best Salteñas.

One can enjoy the Salteñas while sitting in the cafe's nice outdoor patio.

I liked to accompany my Salteñas with a fresh juice or smoothie. This one is made of strawberries.

One characteristic of Salteñas is that the ingredients on the inside are infused with a juicy broth. The fist time I ate a Salteña I simply picked it up with my hand and took a bite. The hot juices overflowed onto my hand and plate. It was a mess. As a result, much of the savory goodness was wasted. I then observed how the locals were eating the pastries. The well versed eaters of Salteñas would take a small bite out of the top of the pastry, then use a small spoon to spoon out the ingredients and juices... a much more refined way to enjoy the delicacies. I learned my lesson... eat like a local.

This is an example of a Salteña de Pollo (Chicken). It contains chicken, potatoes, peas, herbs, spices and the broth. It seemed like there may have been a touch of curry as well. Delicious!

This is a Salteña de Carne (Beef). It contains beef, potatoes, peas, herbs, spices and the broth. It seemed to have a little more picante (spice). Yummy!

And, this is a Salteña de Santa Clara. It contains chicken, potatoes, peas, herbs, spices. It seemed to contain less broth and was a little more dry. Also, it had a sprinkling of granular sugar baked on the top. I would say that it was a little sweeter.

All of them were great. Sometimes the Salteñas contain other surprises like olives and small eggs.

Salteñas became a staple of my diet while in Sucre. Generally, the cafes that sell Salteñas open at around 9:30-10:00 am. They make an excellent mid-morning snack... or for late risers... a perfect morning breakfast. Buen Provecho!
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  #135  
Old 8 Oct 2012
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The Adventure Begins... Convento de San Felipe Neri (Convent of San Felipe Neri)

I visited the Convento de San Felipe Neri.

Could it really be interesting to visit a convent? You be the judge.

You enter the convent and walk down these long white arched hallways.

Along the way you see some religious artwork.

And you keep walking.

And you see some more religious artwork.

And as you walk down the hallways, you start to realize that there are intricate details in the workmanship all around you.

You look out at the courtyard and realize this is truly amazing. Hmmm... you wonder if you could go higher.

And then you find a passageway that leads you to the roof.

OK, you are up on the roof... this is cool.

The colorful masonry surprises you.

Could you go higher. Try going up the stairs.

As you look around, you see the shadow of a bell tower.

And then you see the bell tower. You wonder if you could go inside and ascend.

Sure enough, on the inside, you find a spiral staircase that ascends the tower. It is pretty tight, but you climb the steps slowly.

When you reach the top, you look out of the bellfry.

You see some beautify views.

You overlook the hills of Sucre.

You overlook the rooftops of the city.

You can almost see the central plaza.

So what do you think? Can a convent be an interesting place to visit?
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