After leaving La Paz we headed towards Potosi, which is a town with a huge silver mountain on its doorstep. It is over 4000m high and is very cold. We stayed there for quite a while as we did a tour of the mines, which was amazing to see the harsh conditions they work under. There was asbestos everywhere and the miners generally only last about 10 years before they die from asbestosos. Pat couldn´t get out of there quick enough!! The town was so rich from silver that they used to make coins for Bolivia and Spain, now Bolivian coins are made in Spain!! We had a tour of the coin making factory, which was amazing. They would flatten the silver with a wooden wheel that was drawn by a horse!! Then later by steam driven machines. In the 1500´s Potosi was a bigger and richer town than London or Paris!!
We then went to Sucre, which is probably the prettiest city in Bolivia and saw 5000 amazing dinasour footprints. The roads in Bolivia then quickly deteriorated and Pat put Belinda and the luggage on the bus and had some fun in the dirt!!
Next we were off on a 4 day tour of the salt flats out of Uyuni. We had a really good group and the salt flats- largest in the world were amazing, but it was absolutely freezing and very rustic accomodation!! Try 50 people sharing 2 toilets in minus zero temperatures for fun!! We then hopped on the train, bike and all, to Argentina and civilization!!
Things about Bolivia:
- It is very much third world with bad roads, bad food, bad sanitary conditions (Belinda had stomach cramp`s for 1 week) & bad fuel (78 octanes only).
- Most of the country is over 3,500m, so it is very cold, especially at night; but spectacular scenery.
- When a vehicle breaks down they put rocks behind the wheels to keep it from rolling back and drive off and leave them on the road, so we play dodgem rocks often!!
- The beds generally bow in the middle, so we both end up crawling out of the middle of the bed with bad backs in the morning.
- Generally the prices were higher than Peru and the standard less.
- In La Paz we had a double visa withdrawal on the one day and only withdrew once! Hopefully the Commonwealth Bank in Australia will sort it out soon and recredit our account.
- Many of our friends got spat on as a method of being pick pocketed in La Paz.
- It is very much like Tibet- stunning mountainous scenery but not much infrastructure if you want to go off the beaten track.
7th October 2002- La Paz
Well we survived!! We waited one day as it was raining and we didnt really want to tackle ¨The Most Dangerous Road in the World¨ in the rain, let alone any other road in the rain for that matter!! It wasnt so bad really- the motorcycle was probably the best way to see it (on the back especially!!) The reason it is so dangerous is because it is a single lane road that winds around a huge maintain range and descends 3,300m in 60km with sheer drop off cliffs. To top it off there are heaps of buses and trucks trying to pass and overtake on this winding road etched into the side of the cliff with drops of up to 1000m. The worst part was where the waterfalls drop onto the road creating very a slippery stony surface, not to mention the cold shower!! There are crosses on the side of the road everywhere and you can see the damage the buses have done on the way down. Apparently the problem is driver fatigue and they simply fall asleep at the wheel and kill everyone on board!!! Charming.
The little village at the end of the road- Coroico was very quaint with magnificent mountain views and heaps of birds soaring the thermals.
We are now back in La Paz and will head south tomorrow. Bolivia is very similar to Peru in many ways- food, price of things, the people look similar, there are lots of Llamas above the treeline and crazy dogs chasing us.
3rd October 2002- La Paz
We are in the highest capital city in the world at 3,855m high. We can really feel the altitude when going uphill, upstairs and when drinking alcohol- we have become very cheap drunks!! La Paz is actually quite a happening place and it is a lot more modern than we thought it was going to be. We have met up with lots of lond distance bikers- John and Annet from Germany, John and Annette from England, Chris and Simmy from Germany and Belgium- and wow can they party!!! We have got the shock rebuilt (AGAIN!) and we are both on diets to help the poor shock out!!
Lake Titicaca was amazing and a beautiful drive- amazing blue with the snow capped Andes in the background.
With high altitudes comes cold weather, so we have got some down jackets, hats, warm socks etc, all at cheap prices, in fact Belindas down jacket was FREE!! A girl swapped it for Belindas 15 year old fibrepile jacket!! Both very happy with the deal!
Tomorrow we are off to do The Most Dangerous Road In The World on the motorbike- dont worry Mum, if it is raining we no go!!!
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