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March 21, 2010 GMT
Bolivia-Copacabana to La Paz


There wasn’t really much to keep me on Copacabana, so the day after my tour around the lake, I woke up ready to get on the bike and leave. The Gods, it seemed, thought otherwise. The rain outside my window was falling hard, and the roads could barely manage to drain away the deluge of water, threatening to flood the roads at any time.
I went downstairs and tucked into the complimentary breakfast, hoping that the rain would soon give up, but if anything the rain began to fall even harder than before.
Well, I still had to pack, maybe the rain would stop by then, I thought to myself, so I went back upstairs to pack up my bags and bring them downstairs. The rain showed no sign of letting up, but I really wanted to get out of Copacabana, and into La Paz. The thought of spending the day wandering aimlessly around Copacabana was even less appealing than spending the day getting wet on the bike.
I slowly packed up my bike and stepped into my waterproofs, and headed out of Copacabana.
There was always a chance that I would ride straight through the rain and would be in the dry on the other side of the mountain that overlooked Copacabana.
I made my way slowly up the twisting, slippery roads to the top of the mountain, and then even more slowly descended the other side, where, unbelievably, the rain was falling even harder. It wasn’t raindrops that where falling on my head, but bucket loads of ice cold water.
The water stung my face, and once again, I cursed myself for not having tried harder to find a visor for my open face helmet, even though I knew in truth that I had searched high and low throughout Central America. Then I remembered, Jacquie’s helmet, complete with visor and chin protector was strapped to the back of the bike. I pulled over, and for the first time on the trip, donned a full-face helmet.
Excited about the possibility of a dry face, I pulled down the visor and set off.
About 100 yards further along the road I pulled over. The visor had steamed up and I couldn’t see a thing. On top of that, the visor was tinted, so even when it wasn’t steamed up, my view was limited. But the fact was, every time I pulled down that visor, it steamed up in seconds, and I had to try sticking a wet finger of my glove inside to try to wipe away the moisture. When this technique proved to be about as useful as , well, wiping wet glass with wet leather, I tried riding with the visor half way open, which meant that the rainwater was directed straight to my cheeks, and the cold, wet air went straight into my eyes.
I soldiered on, alternating between wiggling my wet fingered glove along the inside of my visor, and changing the angle and width of the opening of the visor. The rain continued to fall, my “waterproof ‘ gloves showed their true colour, rainwater dripped down the back of the helmet, down the gap in the neck of my jacket, to the seat of my pants, where it pooled around my arse, giving me that same feeling that I had in my boots, of flesh soaking in puddles of cold water. I sloshed around like this until I reached the lake that I would have to cross to be able to reach La Paz.
I pulled up to the shore and was waved towards a collection of wooden planks with a motor attached at the far end that was to be my passage across the lake.
I gingerly rode Garth down to “ferry” and onto the planks, and stopped as directed at the end of the boat. After me came a couple of local taxis, and with out further ado, the young man that had waved us onto his boat, started up the motor with a couple of pulls on the starting rope, and we were off.
Coming in the other direction we passed another ferry, no more than just a wooden platform with a motor at one end, barely large enough to fit a coach on the planks. From where I was looking, it appeared that the coach was floating along on the water unaided.
coach ferrylapaz.jpg

A short while later I reached the other side of the lake, and after a not inconsiderable amount of effort, I managed to wiggle the bike round and ride off onto the shore, barely keeping it from falling when the platform lurched back towards the water while I was half on land and half still on the boat.

Posted by Dan Shell at March 21, 2010 03:27 AM GMT

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