Pass the Salt, Please
Ok, we had overdosed on ruins around Cusco and had drank all the beer in the world famous Norton Rats bar so it was time to move on to our next destination, Lake Titicaca. The ride from Cucso to Puno was another one of those 14,000 foot roads with more beautiful scenery. Our first view of Lake Titicaca was not as breathtaking as we expected but the views just got better as we rode the shore of the lake.
We arrived in Puno and both of us were disappointed in the city. We had heard it was a very nice town but we just didn’t see it that way. Many tourists in town to visit the floating islands of the Uros but I had heard they had become floating souvenir shops, so we passed on that and headed down the road, across the border into Bolivia.
The border crossings so far in South America had been “bribe/propina” free. Not here. The border police, who are there to protect us from corrupt border officials and scammers, were the ones who demanded money. I ask why and was told that it was so he didn’t have to spend the next three hours thoroughly searching all our bags. Sal gave him 10 soles (about $3). He said 10 for each bike. I yelled “start searching”. He said move on out! A very small victory at best. Only 10 more kilometres to Copacabana. I, of course, expected to see white sand beaches with long legged girls in string bikinis, but much to my disappointment it turns out, that is another place in another country! :=) We had to settle for a very nice little town with some of the best sunset views over Lake Titicaca that you could ever want.
We arrived in Copacabana just in time for a bike/auto/bus blessing by the priests from the main Cathedral. I had heard about this elaborate ceremony and was pleased to be able to participate.
The bike is now blessed and so far the blessing is working perfectly (well, we still have that rear sprocket to worry about) :=) From Copacabana to La Paz was another great 14,000 foot road with even more fantastic views.
There was also a very scary ferry ride across Lake Titicaca thrown in just for the excitement. I figured if they could take these big trucks, two little motorcycles wouldn’t be a problem.
It was touch and go there for awhile leaving the dock as the wind and waves kept pushing us back. We did make it across finally after holding the bikes up with a death grip as the waves tried their best to push them over. Finally into La Paz. Went to a motorcycle shop north of town that I had read about on the internet travel blogs. Nosiglia`s Cycles took us right in and the KLR got fresh oil, filter, knobbies, brake pads, and would have gotten a chain and sprocket but they didn’t have the sprocket. Bought the chain to carry till I find a sprocket.
The next morning we headed to Potosi on another perfect road with absolutely NO traffic.
Later we wished they had saved some of the money for the road between Potosi and Uyuni because it was 120 miles of this (but this was the only straight section as we rode up and down over 4 different ranges of hills).
It took us 4 hours to do the 120. We did the last 20 by the light of the moon which is NOT NEAR enough for that kind of riding. :=) A replacement sub frame bolt (that vibrated out) and a chewed up (rear knobbie) and lost license plate (the next border crossing may be exciting) were the only two casualties of the road. Into Uyuni and straight to the nearest bar to celebrate cheating death once again. The next day we rode out onto the Salar de Uyuni! This was why we came this way and it was worth the effort. The Salar is the highest (12,025 feet, thank you mister Garmin) and largest (dunno) salt lake in the world. It is as flat as the proverbial pancake and you can see for many, many miles (see that there is NOTHING but salt).
Obviously, a major salt processing industry thrives here. The salt forms these very intricate multi-sided figures with some kind of very soft crust.
We didn’t even feel them as we pretended we were the world’s fastest KLR. Driving 100 mph was no problem (for Sal, at this altitude my KLR was only good for about 85). :=) Btw, the next time you put more salt on those fries at McDonalds, there is a possibility that I may have put tire tracks on it. :=) We also decided to have some fun with the camera. The riding, scenery, and stark remoteness’ were making us feel giddy!
We are back in Uyuni now. Will rest a day and head south (on more gravel roads) into Argentina. We plan to be in Mendoza or Santiago in a few days where we will take another break and look for that sprocket (if I make it there on the one I have) :=) There are many more pictures starting here (I apologize for the silly ones but it was just too much fun)! RickMcD.smugmug.com/gallery/1920143/41/115350018
Posted by Rick McDermed at December 07, 2006 04:19 PM GMT
More later from down the road!