Bolivia, April 2009
May 08, 2009 GMT
Voodoo Soup.

30.4.09. La Paz, Bolivia.

tqflamsdist.JPG


tqflamsclose.JPG

The sensible thing to do, altitude-sickness-wise, is to ascend to anything over about 9000 feet slowly, taking things very easy and watching for symptoms all the while. Not go from sea level to 15500 feet in three hours, and then carry 8 tons of luggage up 4 flights of stairs. That would be a recipe for a pounding all-night headache, no sleep, a jackhammer pulse and - perhaps - death.


tqalapacas.JPG


Having not, in fact, died in Tembo Quemada, I'm tempted to declare all medical professionals semi-literate bumpkins and guess-mongers. I won't though. You never know when these people might actually come up with something useful (e.g. Ibuprofen, bionic legs etc).


tqkid.JPG


Like all border towns, TQ is absolutely rubbish and horrible from every angle except the rear-view mirror one, but it does allow me to test the "all Bolivian border officials are corrupt" theory. Guess what? It's wrong. Only 66.6% of them are. The fella that writes down my numberplate in his big ledger asks for "diez Bolivianitos" (ten little Bolivian pesos), waiting until no-one is looking to do so, and holding onto my (falsified) driving licence while he asks. No way man! Not possible, I reply in woeful Spanish, and grab my hooky "licence" off the desk. I paid 8 pounds for those copies (and some fags) and I'm not about to give one of them up at the first hurdle. We shake hands and I trudge to the next office, where the scenario is reprised with identical results.


tqmountains1.JPG


By office 3, I'm as ready for a punch-up* (while being completely out of breath) as I've ever been, but Customs man is a gent so I spare him the taste of Bolivian hospital food and retire to my dreadful, freezing room to dine on one Ibuprofen tablet and shiver until it's time to get up.


tqmounts2.JPG


(Oh! Didn't I mention? I made as if to leave the hotel at 7pm to get some food, but the manager implored me to stay and eat with him in "thirty minutes". Four hours later there was no sign of any food, or indeed him, and I was locked in for the night, so I stared at the ceiling and listened to my heart wheeze until sun-up.)


Dawn comes - not that you'd notice in my windowless dog-prison - and a big bowl of chicken soup and some cheeky chat with a group of cops sorts me out.
Never seen clear skies like this - everything's razor-sharp to the horizon. It'll be another day and a half before I get used to the altitude, but - cor! - everything is beautiful and my eyes are a-burst with thrills.


tqblueskies.JPG


Patacamaya is, let's be honest, a little bit of a dump, but it'll do as a break-point between here and La Paz.


patarearview.JPG


The multiplex/mall/food-court isn't open yet, and in fact never will be because they're not building one, so I take an early night after visiting a very Bolivian restaurant. One pound for two courses. The soup looks good when it arrives - is that a crab claw poking through the meniscus? I spoon up the liquid. It isn't. It's a chicken's foot. A big one. Oh boy it looks bad.

The actual soup tastes lovely, so I drain it and leave the foot un-sucked, hoping this doesn't cause offence. Frightening but cheap - always the blueprint for a memorable meal.


I do without a proper lavatory visit in the morning - it's a squatter, like West Africa, but minus the water element necessary to deal with missed-target issues. I settle for electrocution-by-shower and scoot. Don't need breakfast if I haven't had a poo anyway.


pazmiketruck.JPG


It's a short, bright-blue run to La Paz. Ten miles shy of the city I'm flagged down by Big Truck Michael, organizer of a huge Harley-Davidson meet starting today - Friday - and continuing over the weekend.


pazmikeme.JPG


He has pies and coffee in the 6 berth truck and I scoff happily, not quite relaxed enough to ask if I can defile his chemical toilet. Soon his pals arrive and turn the lay-by into a deafening, whisky-scented metal garden for 40 glorious minutes.


pazbikes.JPG


pazchopper.JPG


pazoldHD.JPG


pazbolsign.JPG


Off into the spectacular city, and with La Fluffita parked cosily in hotel reception, a 3 day stay in La Paz becomes 10, thanks largely to Max in (ahem) Oliver's Travels, a football/pint/English breakfast joint, 5 minutes wheeze from where I'm staying.


pazview.JPG


pazbikehotel.JPG


pazOTbboard.JPG


It's a messy 10 days. On one of them I arrive at OT at 8.45am to watch a live Arsenal game. It's not on, due to Fox Sports' regular bumming-up of the schedules, but since Max has already started on the Paceņas it would be insensitive not to join him. Some other days start later but finish at 6.30am. Details are scant - let's just say I did well to leave when I did.


pazstreet2.JPG


pazstreet3.JPG


pazstreet4.JPG


pazstreet5.JPG


pazstreet6.JPG


pazstreet7.JPG


pazstreet8.JPG


pazgalz.JPG

---

*i.e. not at all

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at 07:47 PM GMT
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!