Monthly Archives: August 2019

La Paz to Peru

26th Aug

Recovering in La Paz.

La Paz is one of the highest city’s in the world, along with its upper neighbourhood of Alto.
It’s a huge sprawling city spread across a bumpy valley surrounded by steep mountain sides and distant snow covered mountain peaks.

We visited a few museums.  The Coco museum, a small place hidden behind some shops it’s dedicated to the story of the coco leave which is chewed here for giving better stamina at the high altitude.

The museum of San Francisco cathedral, the tour was fun mainly due to our extremely friendly guide who’s name was actually called Snow White. Snow White led us cheerfully around imparting information as we went, it’s amazing the places they let you wander such as right up over the roof and bell towers with not too much regard for health and safety (It’s very refreshing to be treated as adults able to steer away from dangers, unlike our own countries obsession with all things safety related).

The local Witches market had some interesting stuff for sale, dead dried baby Lamas and Foetus hanging for sale, one use of these products is by builders, when buoyant new home as it’s believed that the carcass will ward away evil spirits and prevent accidents.

We tried to take a local bus to the Luner valley but had chosen the wrong day as there was a strike action on. Instead we used the very efficient and clean cable car system which spans the city, this was the best bit of the trip as we were able to view the extents often city from above and see all the various roadblocks that the bus drivers had set up. The luner valley (so called because Neil Armstrong had stated that it reminded him of the moons surface) was interesting but as we had walked up the hill to get there we had already witnessed the terrain before we entered the park.

Cholitas wresting.
We watched a ladies wrestling show, the ladies dressed in traditional costume complete with bowler hats. The show was OK if not a bit repetitive, obviously all staged but even so there were some pretty acrobat Judo moves. We had used the cable cars again to reach the high Alto where the wrestling was and walked through about a mile of busy market. Unfortunately during this we came across lots of groups of drunk men which takes the edge of the safe feel of the area.
After the wrestling we had thought we would jump in a taxi but there were none outside (most people go by a tour operator hence only prepaid tour buses were waiting. We had to walk back through the market, it was after dark and the market was starting to pack away. This time though we managed to reach the cable car without meeting the drunks.

 

Ginette – the city is full of contradictions, no real landmarks, protests and parties within streets of each other. Cobblestones hit concrete, and Gothic spires vie with glassine hotels, La Paz is a crazy, noisy, dirty city but we liked it, it was a great place to chill for a few days. We’re both feeling a lot better so we will be heading off tomorrow

 

On 28 Aug 2019, 

Border crossings and adjusting to cycling together again lake Titicaca

Monday
We decided not to cycle out of La Paz due to the traffic and the very steep, busy, hill we had to climb.

After first trying the main bus station we had to push our bike up a very steep hill to another station near a cemetery.

We were lucky and after a short while we were loaded on a small bus with the bikes on the roof and on our way to Tiawanacu.

On arrival late afternoon we booked into a very basic hostel. There is a large archeological site in this town which we had planned to visit but the entrance fee was 100 Bol each. Now this is only £12 but it’s a lot of money in relation to standard Bolivia rates, for example the bus trip to get there, including the bikes was only 15 Bol each.
We decided not to go in and instead had a relaxing afternoon in town supping beer.

Tuesday
It was a very cold night, we woke with a little ice in our water bottle (which was inside our room) and when I went outside to the bikes they were covered in Frost.
We set off wrapped up warm, the road was not overly busy but the cars and lorries were travelling fast. I used the hard shoulder as much as it would allow but Ginette preferred the smooth main road, coming off when she could hear a car coming. This bothered me as in my mind it was not worth the risk but today was also a day of re-adjusting to cycling as a pair.

Ginette – even when we were cycling on the hard shoulder the drivers were giving us a wide birth, I was very careful and came off the smooth road whenever I heard a vehicle behind me or whenever I saw a vehicle approaching. The hard shoulder was very rutted and uncomfortable to ride on. Gary was a little grumpy and tired all day, after lunch I rode in front of him and this made him a little more relaxed. As Gary says it will take a day or two of riding together for us to find our rhythm again.

We crossed into Perú at Desaguadero, a mid size town split in two by a river from lake Titicaca. We had dinner from a street vendor in Bolivia, then went to cross one of the bridges, however this first bridge was closed, the locals were crossing the river in a large array of colourful small boats. We moved downstream to a second bridge and crossed the border. The border control on both sides is obligatory according to the signage but the locals ignore this and pass by into each side with no cares. We could have done the same but opted to be sensible and have our passports stamped. In each of the towns near the border men and women cycled bikes with carriages that were used for transporting people and goods.

Once through the border we had a few hours cycling in Peru, we headed around a small inlet of lake Titicaca and on to Copacabana, which is back in Bolivia.
There is not a lot of difference to note about Perú other than it’s currency and the dogs have a bad attitude.

Ginette – it is not a very pleasant feeling being chased by large snarling, barking dogs.

Crossing the border into Bolivia meant a bit of a hill climb, not so easy when you are close to the 65 mile mark. The last 4 miles into Bolivia also treated us with hill climbs as we had a small peninsula hill to climb before dropping into the very picturesque fishing village of Copocabana.

Wednesday 28th Aug

Isla del Sol tranquility

I was not in a great mood this morning so Net had to put up with Mr grumpy

We had breakfast out in one of the many cafes which wasn’t great

A walk around the cathedral was good, it is a large and well kept cathedral with good artwork
We then walked up a steep hill to a set of 7 crosses that are a pilgrimage site. The walk up was tough on the heart and lungs as we are over 13000ft. The views over lake Titicaca were impressive but the rubbish strewn around on the walk up was not, including several old nappies.

Our ferry ride over to Isla del Sol was a slow and uneventful trip of approx 1.5 hours, but arriving at the island it was as if we had been transported back in time. A busy little port but no cars or motorcycles only people (tourists and Bolivians) and donkeys

We walked up the steep Inca stairway and settled into a small hostel with stunning views over lake Titicaca.

More uphill walking took us along cooled narrow lanes, dodging the donkeys and the local men and women with their loads wrapped onto there backs in colourful blankets.
At the top we found a terrace bar complete with rocking chairs so we sat and supped beer and watched the lake, we could see for miles but the lake is so big you can not see it’s end.
Another walk up a gert big hill and this time 360 degree views so taking in lake Titicaca and the Peruvian banks one side and the Bolivian banks the other.
We stopped at the terrace bar again to watch the sun go down, far below in the lake we could see activity in the water where something pretty large was surfacing and dashing across the surface, it must have been pretty large for us to see it from this distance
Needless to say my mood is far better this afternoon.

Ginette – Isla del Sol is stunning and I was really pleased it worked its magic on Gary. It would be very difficult to stay grumpy in paradise. We hadn’t booked any accommodation but we there was plenty of choice on the island, in fact there were a disproportionate amount of hostels/hotels and restaurants for the number of tourists staying on the island. We loved it and would fully recommend to others visiting Bolivia or Peru.

Getting off Isla Del Sol

Our room with a view meant we was treated to a stunning sunrise which could be viewed from bed through the window as was Ginettes warm option, or from the cold barrier free balcony, my option.

After breakfast on a balcony with lake views we set off to walk as much as the southern part of the island we could in the hours we had before the ferry at 3pm. The island itself is in some kind of dispute and tourists are no longer allowed to venture into the north of the island, hence only a small part is accessible.

The walking involved some steep rough paths, encounters with donkeys, Lamas, sheep, shepherds and shepherdesses.

Ventured down to the lake area where we had seen the large fish breaking the water from afar, it turns out it was ducks diving underwater and swimming at speed to catch fish, they were pretty fast and left a bubbly trail in the water.

Back in Copacabana we managed to book the same room in the same hostel and where reunited with our touring bikes. Tomorrow we cycle back into Peru for more views of Titicaca Lake.

Uyuni to La Paz

More adventures including two poorly Corrs and a ride across the salt flats

Guess salt hotel do you think we stayed in??

15th Aug

Summary – A short ride to Conchini

A leisurely morning with breakfast and shopping for food and water
We cycled the short flat route from Uyuni to Conchani and Had a mooch around the market and tried to find a room for the night, the three hostels in town ranged from dorms to rooms that are likely to be disturbed all night by the tourist throughput to one that was still a building site.

We cycled right to the edge of the salt flats to a hostel whose walls, tables and beds were all made from salt bricks, the floors throughout were also loose salt. Very novel and only £4 each.
There was another hotel across the road which charged €125 a night, Net popped over to make use of the toilets and WiFi

Ginette – there are times I wish I was rich and this was definitely one of them. The hotel was plush, the toilets had doors that locked and flushing systems and it was warm. Our hostel was novel but it was a building site, with intermittent lighting, no electrics and freezing cold.  But at £4 a night a bargain.

Whilst we waited for dinner, I taught the host’s son how to play the ukele.

Ginette – I heard the host’s older son telling the Italian what was on offer for dinner,  I interpretted rice, eggs, chips and salad and promptly asked the host if we could have dinner too.  You can imagine my face when after a long wait dinner turned out to be a few greesy chips, salad and llama!! I asked the Italian if I had understood the menu and he smiled and said he was a little surprised by the llama and lack of eggs and rice. Just as well I wasn’t hungry.

We were joined by another cycle tourer from Italy so had a pleasant evening chatting but we all still hit the sack by 9pm.

Ginette – the cyclist looked exhausted, he had an upset stomach which is not uncommon in Bolivia, perhaps it is the altitude.

It was freezing in the bed at first, we slept fully dressed. In the early hours though I was far to hot under all the heavy blankets.

Ginette – it was good to be back on the bike, it was a short ride which made it enjoyable, the new saddle seems to be doing the trick.

Thursday
Summary – Salt flat cycling

It was a cold start, the salt flats retain no heat and are known to go to minus 20 degrees, but when we set off fully wrapped up it was a barmy 6 degrees.

It was weird cycling over the white flat surface, it looked like snow and ice and at first your mind warned you that it was going to be slippery, but it’s not.

The cycle to the Isle of Incahuasi was only 48 miles but it was a hard ride. The surface was not smooth all the time and the salt has formed large hexagonal Chrystal shapes sometimes very pronounced making the ride like cycling over cobbles.

There was no real clear route so we kept close to the vehicle tracks while following the Garmin
We thought we would get in with plenty of time to mess around taking fancy photos but we didn’t get there till just before sunset. We set up camp, hidden between the large cacti and took a short wander around the island.  There were lots of tourists on the island, the majority had been transported by jeep or bus and did not stay on the island overnight. I think there were only about 20 people on the island overnight so it was really quiet but very bright from the full moon. The tourists arrived again early the following morning to watch the sun rise.

Ginette has issues with her breathing today, we are after all cycling at 12,000 feet

Friday

Summary – Ginette hospitalised and Gary rescued by ambulance.

Not too cold last night so slept well even with Ginette’s bum seeking me out for warmth again.
We had a little mouch around the islands tourist centre but as we didn’t bother paying the islands fee we didn’t go up the hill. Before we set off again we were set upon by a class of Bolivian school kids so they could have there photos taken with us.

We only had 25 miles to cycle across the salt flats but Ginette was struggling. We had to stop a lot for her to get her heart and breathing back to normal.

Then things took a turn for the worse and Ginette was violently sick several times, we were approx 8 miles from the town of Tania at the edge of the salt flat but Ginette was in no fit state to cycle anywhere. I pitched the tent (with no pegs as I couldn’t get them in the salt) so Net could try to rest and shelter from the blazing sun.

Ginette – I felt so rough, I almost passed out several times, I couldn’t breathe properly and felt really queazy. Being sick brought some relieve but I felt drained, shivery and scared. I thought I had altitude sickness but I was later informed this was not the case.

Gary – I managed to wave down the first Land Rover that passed after approx 2 hours and after seeing how poorly Ginette was (she was busy being sick at the time) the German family insisted that the driver take Ginette to the town which was another 10 miles away.

Ginette – the taxi driver dropped me into the village hospital but with no explanation as to why I was there. The staff tried to ascertain what was wrong with me but I didn’t have the spanish words to describe how I felt.  So I mimed being sick, they took my blood pressure which was low   to the point they thought their equipment was broken, it was funny watching them test the equipment on each other.  I obviously looked dehydrated and they gave me a formula to drink which I instantly threw back up. By this stage I had the shivers and felt very tearful. They put me on a bed covered me with blankets and gave me some oxgygen to regulate my breathing and inserted a saline drip to replace the fluids I had lost.  The care I was provided was excellent I had several nurses and doctors attended me and even had a skype call with an english doctor. I thought all of this over the top and I kept trying to explain that I had altitude sickness and that I would be OK with some rest but they wanted to make sure I was OK. At one point they wanted to transfer me to the main hospital but I insisted I wait for Gary.  After several attempts I was able to explain he was still on the salt flats with the bikes.

Gary
So I was left with two bikes a tent to put down and a German family now stranded on the salt flats waiting for their driver to return.
I packed away and decided to walk the 10 miles with both loaded bikes. I had the option to leave one of the bikes and come back for it but first gave the walking with both bikes a go. It’s not easy pushing to laden bikes.
After about 2 miles an ambulance came up to me and loaded both bikes and me and took me to Ginette, who had been admitted into the towns hospital.

She was loaded with oxygen through her nose and a saline drip intravenously in her arm, she looked cherry red which was a far better colour than the pale face she had on the salt flats.

One of the male nurses escorted me to a hostal pushing Nets bike for me, when we arrived there were a family of cycle tourers at the hostel, a Frenchman his Japanese wife and there 4 year old daughter.

After I had changed we all headed to the small hospital as the nurse had found these other cyclists could speak Spanish and English so were bought along as translators.

So we all piled into Ginette’s little room, making it very cosy discussing her issues. It must of being weird for Ginette even in her poorly condition to have so many people around discussing her health including her bowl movements.

When the saline drip had passed through Ginette she was allowed to come back with me, she was a bit better but obviously no were near well.
The bill for all this was 32 Bol, £3.20

Ginette – by the time Gary had been picked up I felt so much better. I had stopped vomitting and felt toasty warm although internally I was still a little shivery.  The doctors concluded I was dehydrated and had a stomach upset. They adviced me to return in the morning for a check up before moving on. 

Before we knew I was really ill Gary made use of the time taking perspective photo’s unfortunately all I could do was sit in the chair and smile occassionally.

Saturday

Summary – Climbed volcano

Ginette seemed a bit better but was still weak, we spent the day resting in the town Tahua.

However my version of rest is slightly different so I opted to walk up the Volcano Tanupa.  There was a gravel vehicle track to follow all the way but it was hard and slow work, if I tried to push to hard I had no air in my lungs so slowly did it.

Up at the crater there was a colony of mammals which looked like Rabbits but had the tail of a Fox. They hopped around like rabbits but also stood on their hind legs and gave a short cry of warning.

At the crater I left the track and rock hopped up one of the ridges so I could get a better view across the salt flats.

The way down was much quicker as I had no oxygen issues.
Net has been wisely resting and reading, I don’t think she will be strong enough for tomorrow’s rough road so we are hoping we can hitch hike with the bikes to the next large town and possible tarmac roads.

Ginette – I rested all day, even walking to the outside toilet left me breathless.  I had been constipated for several days but the doctors gave me a pessary and it seemed to do the trick.

Sunday

Another separation

Ginette is still weak, I tried to get a lift in the jeep that had stopped overnight at the hostel, he was going the other way but he had good English and found out for us that a bus leaves at 3 pm to go to Oruro.

Ginette stayed to catch the bus and as I was feeling strong I set off by bike, it is upsetting leaving each over especially as she was so poorly only 2 days ago.

The previous day we had though we may be able to hitch a lift but in the 3 hours it took me to cycle the tough stretch I only had 2 cars pass me and only one would have been able to take the bikes, he passed me just as I was approaching the paved section at Salinas De Garci Mendoza.

The ride out of Tahau to Salinas De Garci Mendoza was a tough stretch of 25 miles of dirt track. The terrain ranged from washboard, Rocky and sandy, the sandy but had me pushing the bike for a little while. Once at Salinas De Garci Mendoza the road was tarmac and mostly flat so I made good headway.

I had long stretches of desert like terrain with mountains in the far distance, but there were also a few craters near the road, they looked like volcano craters but with the mountain .

I met 6 other touring cyclists 2 of which weee from London. The salt flats are a popular place for the cyclists to head. The others were Italians taking a 3 week trip so they have only just set off.

Ginette – I had a long and uncomfortable day. I still felt very weak and I had now developed diarhorrea.  Before leaving the hostal I took an imodiom and a local stomach tablet. I had no idea how long the bus would take to Oruro but as it was a local bus I knew it would not have a toilet.  I set off at 1.30 to make sure I was on time and in the right place. The locals were lovely several stopped to talk with me, one even offered me his toilet. My Spanish is very limited but I was able to express I was catching the bus becuase I had a bad stomach. The bus arrived at 3pm and dropped off several passengers,  I went to get on the bus but was informed it would return at 4pm (at least I hoped that was what she said). I sat back in the village square and waited, and waited, fortunately a few more passengers arrived and I was able to relax. Not too much though becuase by this stage my stomach was cramping and I was wondering whether getting on the bus was a good option at all. I decided to take more tablets and hope for the best.  The bus eventually returned and took 6 hours to reach Oruro, stopping regularly to drop off oil and food to remote villages. With about 2 hours to go, I was clenching my bum cheeks and decided more tablets were necessary.  At 10.00pm I was dropped off with my bike on a dark street in Oruro, I had no accommodation booked and very little local money. To add to my dilemma my Iphone screen was broken and would not allow me to access maps.me. I asked the driver for the closest hotel and headed in that direction. Fortunately within 10 minutes of walking  I found at ATM and a hotel which had a private bathroom (yayyyy), a shower and a comfortable bed.

Monday

Two poorly bunnies

Gary – It got very cold in the early hours, I couldn’t be bothered to get any of my body parts out of the sleeping bag to put on extra clothes so just huddled up to keep warm.
My water bottles where like slush puppies half ice and water.
I had a puncture to fix mid morning.
The ride back to the main road was good tarmac and only a few hills, I stopped at a roadside leanto for a dinner of rice potatoes and beef.

At the junction to the main road I had a chat (neither of us could speak in a language we could understand) with an old shepherd lady, she was very friendly and animated so I gave her some of my food.
Once on the main road there were more towns with shops etc so I stocked back up with water.

By 4.30 I was feeling decidedly queasy, I took a tum tum and pushed on another 10 miles so as to make it possible to finish tomorrow.

Pitching the tent when your queasy is not a pleasant task, hopefully this will pass soon

Ginette – I woke feeling much better and managed a small breakfast. In true Ginette fashion I then relocated to a cheaper hostal and chilled for the day. I was still very breathless and looked up altitude sickness, I definitely don’t have that but Dr Google suggests I may be anemic. This seems very likely and would explain why I’ve felt lethargic and breathless. I also have several other symptoms listed by Dr G.  Fresh vegetables have been in short supply and as I don’t eat meat my iron levels are probably very low. Once i have some energy I will seek out some dried fruit and may even have a blood test.

20th Aug

A bad night and a poorly Gary

So a really cold night made worse by the shivers going through my body and the amount of times I had to get out of the to evacuate each end.

It took me ages to do everything this morning as I was so weary.
Once packed I stayed by the roadside for 10 minutes hitchhiking but no takers. I decided to cycle the 10 miles to the next town, hoping I could get a lift from there.
I had to stop several times, it was a flat easy stretch but didn’t feel like it to my body.
Luckily in the town was a police check with barriers across the road, I managed to
get a lift straight away, he dropped me in Uruno for 30 bols (£3)

Spent the rest of the day resting and being Loved back to health by Net

Ginette – Gary contacted me early this morning to tell me he’d had a really bad night and that he would try and get a bus/lift.  it was clear he had the same bug as me so I fully appreciated how awful he was feeling. Once he arrived at the hostal I gave him lots of TLC and a little space to recuperate. 

21st August 

Tourist day 

We’re both still in recovery mode so spent the day exploring Oruno, there’s not a lot to see to be honest. Old buildings mixed with new, some statues and more protests. Bolivia will be electing a new president in Nov,  whereever we have been in Bolivia there have been strong politcal campaigning especially for Evo who if elected will be one of the longest acting presidents in the history of South America.  In a recent referendum Bolivians voted that he should not be able to stand as a candidate but where there’s a will there’s a way.

One of the protests we saw was in regards to the right to work, there’s so much inequality in Bolivia with lots of marginalised groups. My limited Spanish is helping me to understand some of the placards but I need to continue practicing to have a conversation with the protestors.  We saw a number of homeless families on the streets from Venezuela begging for food and money. Bolivia is a very poor country and as we have experienced in other areas the rural areas are affected the worse. Some of the towns we have passed through have very little food resources, poor buildings and little to no sanitation.

To end on a positive note, the people in Oruro were inquisitive and friendly, it felt safe and welcoming to tourists. We enjoyed our tourist day, watching familes in the parks, walking through the markets and visting the tourist sights. One of the highlights of the day was watching a train come through the market. Market stall holders had set up their wares on the train line and as the train approached they simply packed up, moved off the line and as the train passed through they returned to the line.

Thursday 22nd August 

transit day to La Paz

We have now moved on to La Paz, Gary’s stomach is still playing up and he had a very difficult bus ride from Oruro to La Paz.  To help our recovery I had booked an apartment but on arrival in La Paz we were initially shown a small studio apartment. I quickly realised that I was on the mend because rather than accepting the room I set about arranging a better room. Gary on the other hand was exhausted and would have happily stayed anywhere as long as he had quick access to a toilet. Fortunately I was able to relocate us in the same building to a much bigger room. Gary’s sister contacted us to arrange a face time conversation and for the first time ever we asked to take a rain cheque. We are both on the mend but emotionally and physically drained and don’t want family members to worry unduly about us.  We will be spending at least 4 days in La Paz, we’ll be taking it easy and will only move on once we are feeling 100%. We’re both looking forward to the next stage of our trip which includes a cycle ride to Lake Titicaca and then on to Peru.

 

 

 

Sucre – Uyuni

8th August

Finally both well and the independence celebrations are over so we are back on the bikes.
Ginette is not happy, we were only 4 miles in and she was already thinking of heading back.
We continued through the mountain road, we had a fair bit of downhill interspersed between the ups. The weather was nice and clear with the temp reaching 38 degrees at one point.
Ginette’s still not liking the cycling, at the 16 stage she was considering going back. She decided to try to make it to the next biggish town of Potasi.

By 4pm she was really struggling mentally and physically, we had a fairly long and steep climb that took us to 5pm (it’s dark by 6.15) so we stopped at a small village and asked about staying the night. We was pointed up a gravel track but only found a small school, hence we are now camped behind a school building.

A young lad of 14 came and befriended us, swapping stories via showing photos and videos on our phones. He took us to his small home (Ginette was already tucked up in the tent at the time) and we were fed rice egg and chips by the family (he had told us earlier that his mother doesn’t live here) so a real nice treat and a kind act from his family

Ginette – the night before we set off, I convinced myself i could cycle the route to the salt flats, it would only take a week but within 4 miles of cycling my heart sank. My confidence has taken a real bashing from the accident, I find my self jumping at everything, dogs barking at us as we cycle by, ladies throwing water into the road and lorries passing by. Instead of relaxing, I ‘m rigid on the bike, waiting for something awful to happen. I’m not sure whether it is this fact or the new Brook saddle we bought for this trip but every time we start a new trip, I have saddle sores within 20 miles of riding, which making peeing excruciating but I know if I don’t pee I’m likely to get another kidney infection. To reduce the pain, I wiggle a lot on my seat and again I don’t know whether there is a causal link but by mid day I had developed a pain in my knee. Not the knee I damaged in the accident but the knee on the same side of my body as the saddle sores. With all this going on it was really hard to enjoy cycling up the endless hills, in high altitude, in temperatures raising to 35 degrees. Each time I gave into my body and stopped, Gary would sit patiently with me and provide me with words of encouragement, reminding me I can do it. However the reality is I know I can do it, but I don’t want to. I’m cycling to be with him, to please him and it is not enough. It might help if at the end of the day I had a warm bath and comfortable bed to rest my weary body but knowing at the end of the day I will be staying in a tent by the side of the road in freezing temperatures does not help.

It was a hard decision because we hate being apart, but the only thing worse than cycling along when you’re not enjoying it is being the person cycling along with that person and I didn’t want to take away Gary’s enjoyment of the ride.

9th August

Separated again.

It was like sleeping near a dog pound last night all that barking it’s no wonder dogs sleep all day.

Ginette really isn’t enjoy the cycling anymore so she set about hitching a lift to Potasi, the next big town. Now I spent 2 days trying this in La Patria so I wasn’t holding out much hope, however she got a lift within half hour. So now we are travelling apart again but this time it’s only for short hops in this case it should be just one night (2 cycle days).

Ginette – correction it took less than 15 minutes – I have a magic thumb, what can I say…
Two men stopped and kindly loaded me into the back of their van, the ride was pretty uneventful, as my bike was off loaded they indicated they wanted paying. The smallest note i had was 50 boliviano (approx £6) which is about how much it would have cost on the bus from Sucre.

Gary – Today was all about hill climbing, there have been flats and some downs but the majority is climbing at a snail pace up gradients if approx 10%. Later in the afternoon as if it wasn’t already hard enough I had a headwind to deal with. I was a bit weary so set up camp by 4pm. I ended the day at an altitude of 11,390ft. I don’t seem to be feeling any ill effect from the altitude yet unless being weary is part of the symptoms

I only have 19 miles to go to Potasi where Net is waiting but I know this is going to be all uphill climbing, hopefully the headwind will have disappeared.I met two other cycle tourers coming the other way, a Frenchman and a Thai lady. They were dessed up in face masks, hats, coats and gloves. I just had one shirt and cycle shorts on. Personally it still felt pretty warm to me but these guys are coming from the direction I am heading and they both warned me how cold it is at Uyuni and the salt flats, I guess they are still warming up!

Ginette
I arrived in Potossi too early to check in any of the hostels and I couldn’t find anywhere with wifi. Potossi is a big old mining town, the roads are dusty and busy with cars, lorries and buses and the pavements are narrow and uneven. I didn’t like the town, perhaps this was because I’d travelled from beautiful Sucre. I decided as it was early I would find the bus station and enquire about buses to Uyuni and to my delight there was one leaving within the half hour so I booked a ticket (£3 for me and the bike). The scenery on the way to Uyuni is spectacular I am sure Gary will expand on this when he writes his blogs. As I sat on the bus, I had no regrets about not cycling this stretch, it looked very cold (ice and snow on the ground) and windy. There were long stretches up to an hour on the bus where there were no provisions or houses and definitely no luxury hotels.  On a positive note the road was in a good condition and there were alpacas and llamas on route. It is a shame that the last part of the journey was tarnished by the sight of all the rubbish dumped along the edges of the road. I arrived in Uyuni at about 4.00pm and quickly booked into a hostel so that I could inform Gary I had leap frogged ahead. The hostel was cheap at £5 a night but bloody freezing. In true Ginette style once I’d emailed Gary I went on line and booked myself into another hostal for the next couple of nights. Hopefully Gary will arrive in Uyuni in the next 4/5 days and we can cycle together to the salt flats.

10th August

Beautiful mountain views and high altitude.

Chatting with Net on FaceTime last night she has actually gone straight to Uyuni, so no cuddle for me today.

It got pretty cold last night but I did warm up once in the sleeping bag, however in the early hours I was getting cold again but not cold enough to go through the hassle of getting out of the bag and putting on more clothes. The water Froze in the breakfast bowls while I was cleaning it.
Set of with three layers and warm mittens, but still with bare legs, as the sun got stronger all the layers came of to just T shirt and shorts.

Potosi didn’t look very pretty, it’s a silver mining town so all around the outskirts are open mines. The town is on loads of hills and has a dirty industrial feel.
I had a dinner of steak rice and potatoes for £1. But felt ripped off at the local shops when I bought water and supplies. I was a bit pissed off as I am pretty sure I was overcharged, I cycled away then it dawned on me that I now only had £5 left for the next 4 days, so I had to cycle 1.8 miles back up a gert steep hill to get to an ATM

This afternoon has been slow work going up the hills but the views have been great. I have seen Lamas or Alpacas (I am not sure of the difference).
I have been up to altitudes of 13,420ft that’s higher than the 12,000ft that the BPA have restricted British skydiving from.
I am camped in a valley at 12,633ft, (if you tried to skydive from here you wouldn’t get much free fall time) it’s hot and sunny at the moment but I am sure this will change when the sun goes down.

Ginette – I changed hostels and compared to my previous hostel this one is 5 star, however the walls are thin and even with a heater in the room it is freezing at night. I didn’t sleep well and was awake by 1.30am, I was cold, had a very gassy tummy (one of the symptoms of being at high altitude) and of course I was missing Gary. My mind was troubled, we have spent so much of our savings, I don’t think we will last a year on the road let alone 2 or 3 (not if we want to keep some for our much earnt money for our return to the UK). Studying in Sucre has reminded me I like routine, having a purpose to get up and doing something constructive with my day. I still have things I want to see and do in South America but I think I will probably return early in 2020 if not before. I know Gary has had similar thoughts but if he enjoys this stretch of cycling he may decide to stay on the road longer.

I spent the day learning more spanish and exploring the small town of  Uyuni.

11th August

A beautiful mountain day but tiring.

Last night after dark I discovered that the railway track I am near is not disused as the first of a few night freight trains thundered slowly past, having to sound the horn to warn the road users they were coming as there are no barriers or lights at the crossing.

I have had a morning of hill climbing to altitudes of 13,820ft. It was chilly due to a cold wind. The running streams have layers of ice and in some areas were the sun doesn’t reach there are patched ice patches. A family with two toddlers were hammering at the ice to take it away in buckets,

There are lama everywhere now I even was greeted by one as I came out of a little store in a small settlement,

I have taken plenty of breaks today but have called it a day at 4pm , unfortunately this makes for a long night but my weary body has had its say.

I am at 11,725ft and have 65 miles to reach Ginette. Hence two more days should do it depending on the hill climbing.

12th August

Another hill too many but reunited again

Today I didn’t expect to make Uyuni as it was 63 miles away.
The morning saw me having a couple of large hill climbs and then a pleasant couple of long flat stretches  I covered a lot of miles by lunchtime.

The terrain has been magnificent with rock formations of so many different colours, also there were plenty of Alpaca encounters to keep me entertained.

On one of the flat sections the ground was loose soil and the wind was kicking up little dust whirlwinds.

There were road signs warning of crossing Emu’s,  so I spent a lot of time gazing either side in the hope of glimpsing one, no luck but it’s surprising how much ground you cover when you are otherwise occupied.

I stopped at 10 am and had another breakfast of chicken and rice bought from a local top hatted street seller.

Ginette – the street food in Bolivia is pretty good, my favourite are the pappa rellenna’s which are mashed potatoes filled with cheese, egg, or meat (sometimes all three). These are deep fried and served with salad and a sauce of your choice.

By late afternoon I only had 17 miles to go and was at the top of a huge hill, somehow my sister Tracy managed to get through to my phone but we lost the signal very quickly ( I had been trying to contact a Net all day but had no signal).

By this stage, I knew I could make it to Uyuni by the end ofthe day so happily made my way down the next hill.

However my hopes were nearly dashed at the bottom of the valley as I had a huge hill to now climb and 13 miles to go. I had a little talk to myself, I have had this feeling of not being able to continue before when close to finishing long rides at home, I set a target halfway up the hill, stopped to eat jam and banana sandwiches then carried onto the top.
Great but now I could see another bloody up and down to do.
Oh well, I was now only 7 miles from Uyuni so bit the bullet and climbed this last hill.
At the top I was rewarded extremely well with fantastic views across the Saltflats and the small town of Uyuni, plus a long down hill to the town.

Reunited with Ginette, such a lovely feeling, it’s a shame the tail end of the ride was so hard as I was not much company for her as I was so knackered.

Knackered but happy

Ginette – I felt very loved, Gary had to push himself really hard just so he could have a cuddle or was it the thought of a comfortable bed and a warm shower that pushed him on….

13th August

Last night we went for a pizza meal, I had spicy Alpaca meat on mine.

I felt much better today but have big bags under my eyes

Tourist day, we spent the day visiting the train cemetary which is on the edge of town. This is where a lot of the three day tours commence so there were a lot of tourists having their photos taken.

I had been tryng to contact my mum and dad but none of my SIM cards would let me call aboard. My stepdad had just lost his mum who we all called Auntie Glad. She had lived to a grand old age and had a rewarding life. Unfortunately for the past few years she has suffered with dementia added to this she lost her much loved husband, my Uncle Bob a couple of years ago. It is very sad that she has passed away but she had a life that should be celebrated. We can’t attend the funeral but we will make sure we raise a glass in her honour.

I eventually managed to talk to my parents via whats app, who knew my mum would be so modern! It was great to talk to them (and to see them), although we had to keep it quite short as we had arranged to meet two fellow cyclists. The cyclists live close to Bilbao in Spain and had cycled down from Cosco so we spent an hour picking their brains re routes and terrain.

Much to our surprise we managed to buy a new saddle for Net’s bike, it only cost £2.50, it is much softer than her current one which hopefully will mean it will be less painful for her. Her Brook saddle which cost £75 is much harder than mine.

In the evening we went out for dinner I had Trout and Gary had steak based dinner with onionsand tomatoes. Food is more expensive in Uyuni than Sucre but it has a captive audience. As lots of tourists stop here before visiting the Salt Flats, that said dinner and two large beeers cost £15.

Today is the 14th August, we will be leaving Uyuni and heading towards the Salt Flats.

 

Ginette and Gary in Sucre – Bolivia

Summary – Gary’s blog update

Pretty Sucre, Loving wife and lots of sickness

My health has been poor all week, I suspect the sandy cycling took a bit too much out my body.
I have had sore eyes, headaches, running nose, hot and cold flushes, and diarrhoea. It’s left me pretty weak all this week.
If you look up these symptoms it’s possible I have Genge Fever from them dam mozzies, but tiredness from the bus rides, the new issue with altitude and I clearly have a cold as well mean that the self diagnosis’s may be flawed

Saturday – This morning I am actually feeling good, I started a BRAT (Bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast) diet to help with the diarrhoea and along with the drugs I am feeling good this morning (first time in a week).

Sucre is a really pretty city with white walls, maintained buildings and plazas, lots of interesting Indigenous locals with a mix of western modern dress and natural costume

Marching bands pop up regularly taking protesters or celebrating children or funerals around the main plaza, disrupting all the traffic but no one seems to mind.

The Main plaza is a meeting place a chill out and the locals make full use of it, lots of elderly gentlemen use it as a meeting spot. Also groups of teenagers gather and are all behaved well, none of the girls dressed to impress.

Before the BRAT diet we were eating out cheaply – a three course meal and drink for £2.50 each, and this is very nice vegetarian food.

It has been Sunny and hot, Ginette can sit soaking the sun but my poorly body needs the shade so we have to find just the right bench. It is very much cooler in the shade, a much more noticeable difference than I have experienced before.

Our room this week has been a bit Naff, no outside windows or much space so we have spent a bit of time in the parks.

Ginette – I hadn’t expected Gary to arrive this week and downgraded my accommodation to compensate for the expense of the bike being repaired. It was a warmer room, but much smaller than my previous apartment.

Gary – Nets Spanish is good she understands most of what she hears,  I have found myself looking to her to translate for me

We have moved to a rooftop apartment, we have much more room and an open area to catch fresh air. There is no WiFi which is not so good

We are planning on staying another week in Sucre, there is a celebration this weekend so we are staying to see what festivities we can enjoy.

Sunday to Tuesday 6th August

Summary

Gary is back, and the marching bands are endless.

Hurray! I have finally managed to pull through all the bugs, I have my mojo back.

Ginette – it is great to have my bouncy puppy back.

We have visited the dinosaur footprints and museum and found it fascinating that the shear limestone face in front of us with a whole range of fossilised footprints was once a flat ground over 70 million ago.

We have managed to get most of our equipment restocked from the various markets in the city.

Ginette – I took Gary for a walk around the cemetery, I found it really interesting the sign above the door warns Hodie Mihi Cras Tibi: Today Me, Tomorrow You. Walking around the pristine gardens of the cemetery, the endless rows of stacked graves serves only to re-enforce this message. Appoximately 100 children work in the cemetary, helping family members to lay new flowers in the glass shrines, tidying the gardens and acting as tour guides.  The grounds are really serene and offer lots of shade. I was surprised to read notices on some of the coffins reminding family members of overdue fees. Apparently it costs 10,000 dollars to rent a space for 7 years if the fees are not renewed the body is disposed of in a mass grave.  Families often don’t see the notices until it is too late which is rather tragic.

Gary – Bolivia is celebrating its Independence today (6th August), and they do like a parade. For the last few days there have been marching bands and small parades but yesterday was a major step up. We set out at 10 am straight into a marching parade as far as the eye could see, it looked like all the schools in the area had been told to join in, there were the cutest small kids in national dress up to the university students, along with the teachers. There may have been other organisations as well. The march continued till around 3 pm for a break. But later in the afternoon it started again and was still going at 9pm.

Today the marching continued, this time in front of the president and with all the nations infrastructural departments marching, such as hospitals, mental health, blind associations and even the bin men. It’s fascinating to witness a country so proud in itself, the crowds are large and patient. Some must sit through the whole parade, which is no mean feat.

Ginette

We have enjoyed a chilled week, visiting various tourist sites, shopping and relaxing. Most evenings have been spent in a local bar, catching up on IT tasks and chatting about our trip.

We will be setting off for the salt flats on Thursday it will probably take a week or two. We have a lot of climbing to do over 7,000 meters! It gets dark here early and the nights and early mornings are very cold, which will mean reduced hours.  We are in no rush, we intend to take it nice and easy.

We hope all is well with everyone in the UK.