Monday, May 29, 2017

Bolivia: The final installment

My time in Bolivia was much longer than originally anticipated!  Mainly in part to the invitation I received from my new friend and mechanic Reka.  If you're reading this and plan on visiting Sucre around Easter Weekend, You NEED to contact this guy, you won't regret it.  Contact me for his info!!

The Ultimate Invitation
For only $70 USD/450Boliviano I got the following:
  1. Entry for 3 days and 2 nights
  2. Sticker
  3. Hat and Jersey
  4. Full Support for any problems encountered, support vehicles also carried all my stuff
  5. Hotel rooms
  6. CD of photos taken throughout the event
  7. Breakfast and Dinner
  8. The best friends I could ever ask for, I met some of the most incredibly nice people ever!!!!
The first day:
The ride started like a race, each rider started on there own with one minute gaps between riders, but because I had no clue about the route and where to go, I was allowed to start with my new friend Reka.  We started out like bats out of hell, Reka was making me work for my ride, we were driving through the streets of Sucre like none of the laws applied to us :)  It was little scary but for the last 4 months I've learned how to manage the crazy traffic in South America, I like to call this style of driving "Aggressive Defensive", if you're not aggressive you'll end up making no progress but if you're not defensive you'll end up a statistic.  It actually starts to feel like a video game and when people see that you're not timid they end up giving you the attention you deserve.  For instance, at one point, a driver saw me coming down the left median and pulled in his mirror to give me the room I needed.  Nobody wants to get in an accident, in traffic especially, its usually just going to be a headache with no injuries, just vehicle damage and time wasted figuring out who was at fault and dealing with the cops.  And the cops here get no respect and are all considered lazy and always want a bribe of some sort.  Anyways, back to the first days ride....We were on our way out of the city when we noticed a couple of the riders stopped on the side of the road, we stopped to see what was going on, well, it turned out that a dog ran out right in front of one of the guys, he ended up wrecking. Thankfully he wasn't hurt and no damage was done to the bike but unfortunately the dog wasn't so lucky, they were pretty sure it was dead :(  But in all of South America this is common, there are sooooo many stray dogs, its actually my biggest danger when riding, not only because they are unpredictable and run out into the street but I've also been bitten several times when they come out and chase me, my $500 boot investment is coming in quite handy, although heavy and built more for moto-X, the thick plastic offers protection against dog bites as well.

After we got out of town the scenery changed rapidly, we cruised well kept pavement roads through the amazing mountains of Bolivia.  The scenery was breathtaking and I finally got a much deserved opportunity to sit back, relax and breath the fresh mountain air.  We made a couple stops here and there to meet up with Reka's friends, take break and pose for some pictures before reaching our first section of off road fun.

After about 60 miles of road riding we get to our first section of back roads where we spend the rest of the day.  The roads are rough riding but lead us to some of the most amazing views.  We didn't do much stopping the entire ride so pictures are few and far between, fortunately there was multiple photographers along the routes taking action shots of the riders.  Not many of the gringo, but the ones I was in were perfect. Our first night was in Sopachuy, a super small town located in the middle of nowhere.  When I first entered the town I was sure that we were interrupting a town function, as I rounded a corner in town I was surprised when I encountered a large crowd of people, a stage announcing something in Spanish and live music.  As I continued to follow Reka I spotted other riders and continued to drive past the crowd that assembled who were applauding our arrival.  Was this for us?  Am I in a Twilight Zone episode? it turns out, it was for us, I didn't find out til later on that we had a Bolivian celebrity riding with us, Walter Nosigilia.  Walter and his sons all have raced in the Dakar over the last few years, Walter finished 3rd, 5th and held 1st place for a good portion of the race before he had a race ending mechanical problem.  He level of celebrity spilled over to everyone in the caravan and we all got to revel in fame for the weekend.

That night was pretty quiet, the town put together a buffet dinner for all the riders.  The remainder of the night was spent mainly listing to those around me talk and laugh as they compared stories about that days ride and if I could guess stories of past rides.  Those who sat closest did there best to include me but my lack of Spanish hindered how deep the conversation went but the gesture meant more than they'll ever know.  I went to bed that night frustrated that my Spanish hindered my experience but truly exhausted because of the unspoken bond that was shared.  A feeling that I've never had before that day.

Day 2

The 2nd day started out with the others rustling about, getting there motos ready and dressing in protective gear as they prepared for the days adventure.  The sound of rumbling engines filled the air but the sound of laughter had a greater presence then that of the motos. The mischief of the night before was obvious, apparently there was a great deal of fun had in other rooms the night before.  It was clear that many of the revelers would be riding with a bit of a hangover today but that didn't diminish there excitement. Thankfully I refrained from such shenanigans and would be riding with a well rested body and mind, for this day would turn out to be the best day. It might not have been so if I were hungover!! The ride started out same as before with riders taking off at timed intervals, the difference today was that we had an audience watching our start. Locals lined the street as we prepared for take off.  As each rider set off in motion the applause of the audience overcame the sounds of the engines and the riders who were able to, showed off there talents by screaming down the road front wheel in the air.  For the rest of us the applause was equally enthusiastic but we were just as happy with both wheels kissing the ground.  This day was the day I really got comfortable riding without my bags, the freedom from the decreased weight and size was obvious as my speed increased, my smile widened and my adrenaline soared.  I quickly caught up with bikes that started before me and made my first passes on this trip. I still followed Reka because my lack of knowledge about our route but eventually became more comfortable and realized that if I did come across any change in direction options I could just wait for someone and then take the route they took.  Once I reached this comfort level I shot passed Reka like he was standing still (his words, not mine).  The shot below was taken moments before I would leave Reka in the dust!!
This was a great day with amazing scenery, grueling technical trail riding as well as a couple river crossings!  The first river crossing was a little intimidating at first, the water was deep and this would be my first river crossing in over a month.  I ended up successfully crossing and also came to the other side completely dry as if Moses was helping my by parting the way for me;)  Unfortunately a couple bikes didn't make it through the river crossing as smoothly as I did but when you have friends standing by to ensure a successful crossing, after the laughing stops, they come and help you pick up your bike:)

My plan, mentioned earlier, for this day worked flawlessly, well......until I came to the change of direction point.  It turns out that I wasn't the only one with this plan, I met the other guy with the same plan and with a couple confusing hand signals and misinterpreted Spanish, a wrong turn was decided on.  Eventually , after riding what seemed to be familiar terrain, we ended up in a town that we had already been in before realizing the mistake we made:( But at least we could easily get to the town we were supposed to be in by taking the highway, the only down side is that we missed a little bit of the off road fun.  The upside to our mistake is that it may have been a blessing in disguise, because on this same route, Reka lived up to his name and wrecked his baby:(  He as well got a little lost and took some advise from a local that happened to be wrong.  The local said that his best choice between right and left would be right, well, he was wrong.  As Reka crested a hill, at a relatively high speed, he was surprised to see that the road was no longer there, there instead was a large ravine that readily gobbled up his bike.  Quick thinking on his behalf prevented a much worse scenario, he was able to lay the bike on its side as he turned it.  This kept the bike from entering straight on which would have surely ruined his front fork and left him stranded.  This choice left him with some cosmetic damage mainly as well as a broken foot peg and brake lever.  Although damaged, the bike was still rideable and able to get him to the final destination for the night.  The worst part was that the brand new LED lights, that he installed 2 days ago, the right one was now trashed:(  But that didn't change his demeanor one bit, his enthusiasm for the days adventure was that much greater, for now he had a story to tell everyone at dinner and laugh about it over food and booze.  As we pulled into town, the same scenario played out as the night before, it was nice being a celebrity for these 2 days and this day was filled with the same enthusiasm from the crowd but it also included me giving out my autograph to a handful of kids.  I didn't want to break it to them that my autograph wasn't worth much but the smiles on there faces meant that I and the other 80 riders had been the highlight of there day and I hope that what they saw that day inspires them someway somehow.  As we pulled into town and parked the bikes I was introduced to a new drink, Chicha.  It's an alcoholic beverage that has a unique fermenting process.  This process, which gives some a reason to not try it, includes someone, usually women of the village, chewing the corn then spitting it into water and left for weeks to ferment.  I'm not sure that this was the process used here but it didn't bother me, I love trying new and unusual food and drinks and if thats how they do things then no harm done.  

After the day time festivities quieted down the real celebrations started and i was introduced to some real culture, stuff you would never see on a bus tour.  This is Easter weekend remember, so the communities we visit, devout Catholic communities, were having there own festivities separate from having a bunch of yahoos on motos reeking havoc.  After I finished dinner I decided to go on a stroll through the town, I followed the sound of a drum that I could hear from the hotel, as I came around the corner I noticed a group of people, some dancing, some sitting and listening to the music and others playing instruments.  As I got closer I noticed that people stopped dancing, eyes started focusing on the gringo walking towards them, the music then died.  At this point I started to feel that I was imposing, then I noticed something strange on the ground, a headless goat.  At this point I got a little nervous and decided that this wasn't something touristy that I should see so I turned around and went back to the hotel.  Later on that same goat would make an appearance that was new to me to say the least, if you've been following my facebook post you've already seen the video of this appearance. I got back to the hotel and got the scoop on what the plans were for tonight, since its the final night I figure I need to partake in the shenanigans.  So at first I get invited to hang out with the old guys and drink and chew coca leaves but I'm quickly adopted by the young guys who find it funny to teach me things that I should never say in public and teach me how to drink irresponsibly, this is the night I learn the scorpion drinking technique, it's quite messy and you can end up with alcohol in your eye.   I'll show you the technique if you like!  I also am told about the festivities about to take place, they will commence at midnight and are something that you'll never forget.  The customs of the community begin after mass is let out, at which time a bull will be waiting outside, this bull has a rope around its neck but not tight, just tight enough for the two men, one on either side, can control the general direction of the bull and try to prevent any major trauma induced by the horns of the bull. The bull will be taunted by the church goers up and down the main street, I still don't know what or if this signifies anything significant but it is quite amusing if you take out the animal cruelty part.  All of this is taking place while a parade of sorts is going on, the same music I heard earlier is now being played in the streets but now it's ok for the gringo to be there.  As I wander up and down the street I have my second encounter with the headless goat, this time the goat has rope tied around its front legs and rear legs.  The other end of the ropes are controlled by 2 people and as they walk in front of the band they vigorously whip the goat around, kind of like how kids swing a jump rope while their friends jump but minus the friends jumping and throw in the violent slamming of the goats body on the road.  It's a great way to tenderize the meat before you cook and eat it, who knows, maybe thats what they were doing!  

Shortly after the bull running started I come across a frantic group of people, it turns out that the bull got a little revenge and the victim was one of our guys.  I'm a little terrified at first but am reassured that he is fine but had to get taken to the hospital.  The next day I find out he got 24 stitches in the side of his head but when I see him on the street the next day he's nothing but smiles and laughter as he tells his story to his friends.  

As the night goes on, the young ones now decide to teach me the technique of picking up the local girls or "choletas" and the technique works first time.  All I had to do was say "hello" in english, I was ignored when I tried "hola" but as soon as I used english, bam, I was talking to a local girl.  It went no further than a walk and talk (more of a slur by that point) but it was good fun.   By this time it's well past my bedtime, I stumble home and fall asleep quickly.  

The next morning is similar to the prior morning and although I was out drinking with the boys i'm surprisingly well rested and in no pain.  As I walk around in search of breakfast I run into one of the youngsters who I was out with and he can't say the same about his condition, he looks awful, so awful in fact that he has decided to load his moto in the back of a truck and not ride at all today:)  At this point I feel pretty accomplished, I just partied with a bunch of kids and fared way better the next day, WIN!  I'm saddened that this is the final day of riding but am excited about the ride ahead, today we will be riding to the top of the highest peak in the area, I think the height was around 15K ft, I really need to write these posts closer to the time that they happen, I don't realize how much I've forgotten until I sit down to write.  The ride up is great, super technical and the views once again are amazing. 

This is a great way to finish the weekend.  After we complete this portion we head back to town and start to say our farewells, this will the be the end of the trip.  Everyone will go back home, most back to Sucre but there is nothing planned after this.  I make my rounds and find it difficult to express how grateful I am for this opportunity and how lucky I am to meet each and everyone I have.  The feeling seems mutual and I know that I will always have a home in Sucre.  Reka and I meet back up and ride back to Sucre together, the ride is peaceful and uneventful as we weave through the mountain roads. Once at Reka's place we talk a little and arrange to meet up tomorrow and go over the bikes to make sure they're ready for the next adventure.  I set off to get back to my housing, shower, eat and rest, I also share my adventure with the others staying at the house.  

After a good nights rest I return to Reka's and begin the process of tearing down the bike and looking for any damage while going through and tightening any bolts that may have been jostled loose from all the bumpy terrain.  This proves to be a necessity as I find a precariously loose bolt that has backed itself almost completely out, the good news is I caught it just in time, the bolt found is 1 of two that hold the rear subframe to main frame, a pretty important bolt you might say.  The bad new is that because the bold had been loosened so much the torquing of the frame has crack a piece of metal that the gas tank secures to.  Thankfully, Reka has a welder and we take care of the problem pretty easily. After the bike is inspected and is ready to roll I make plans with Reka for one last dinner and drink together that night, this will be our farewell, i'm saddened about having to leave but am grateful for the luck I had just meeting these guys.  The time I got to spend with all of them and how much fun I had will be something I will always remember.

That night we meet up at a favorite restaurant of Reka's, initially I thought it was going to be just the 2 of us but I was pleasantly surprised as others started showing up one by one.  The night got more and more interesting as it went on, with my best spanish and with the help of Reka, I was able to converse with everyone and share in some laughs about our adventure together.  When the food was gone and the others dispersed Reka and I went on a bit of a joy ride through town, as we drove through the city streets Reka relived his childhood with me and told me stories about how he and Walter Nosiglia reeked havoc on the town as teenagers.  The stories proved that we weren't much different although we grew up on different sides of the planet.  After my guided tour of the city Reka dropped me off for the night.  

The next day I made my rounds with my friends, or should I say my family? my time here, 3 weeks, although short in time was enough time to share a bond that only travelers have.  During my time here I was well taken care of, just like family.  When I was sick, the people I lived with went out of their way to get me what I needed to make me feel better and all without even asking.  When I needed something specific for my travels that was difficult to find in South America, they went out of there way to help me find it, sometimes taking hours out of the day to do so.  I really felt like I was at home although I am thousands of miles away.   I will truly miss everyone that I had the pleasure of meeting, they will always be family in my mind and I hope that one day I can meet up with them again, until that day happens I will learn from their hospitality and do my best to make those around me feel the same way.  After my rounds are made with the family I shared a home with I go and visit my teacher one last time, Carla is definitely included in this extended family of mine, she has shown nothing but kindness towards me and did more than her share in making my stay in Sucre unforgettable, if it wasn't for her I would have never experienced any of this, she made everything happen for me and their is no way that I could ever repay her for her kindness except by learning from her and showing the same kindness for others I encounter.  I will miss her and Reka the most, I will remain in contact with them both for the rest of my life, so if you are reading this, if you ever need anything PLEASE ASK ME, I will do anything that I possibly can to help you and PLEASE come visit me if you ever get the chance.

After my visit with my teacher I finally set off down the city streets of Sucre, with tears in my eyes I find it difficult to acclimate to driving again.  The traffic is horrible and managing my beast through this traffic at first is difficult but as I continue to ride my experience comes back into play.  As I'm exiting the city the memories of the last 3 weeks overwhelm me but as I get further from the city I start to weave down the winding roads, as the curves of the road increase so does the curves of my smile as it widens.  I spend the next 6 hours driving with a km wide smile on my face, the combination of the fun road and memories makes the time fly as I make my way to Cochabamba.  

The next few days are spent one night at a time, the bonds I make at each stop could never compare to the ones I made in Sucre but I'm sure time is the determining factor.  Cochabamba, La Paz and Copacabana all seem to have their appeal but I'm pressed for time and need to move north.  These are all places that I may visit another day.....but onward to Peru!!

This whole blog thing is difficult for me so for those who are following along I hope that I'm keeping you interested and inspired to travel like this someday, if you have any suggestions about my writing or any questions please feel free to contact me.  

Onto Peru......

Hasta Luego,


Friday, May 12, 2017

Bolivia: Part 3


While visiting Chile I was told by multiple people that the best way to learn Spanish was to visit Sucre.  I knew that I wanted to learn Spanish but I had no idea where to go until now.  

My drive to Sucre from Uyuni was amazing, I was finding it difficult to keep my eyes on the road, the scenery was breathtaking as I wove through the curvy roads leading me through the Bolivian mountains.  Not only were the roads amazing, there was absolutely no cars to share this with, this gave me the freedom to stop anywhere I wanted and take in all that I could as well as slow my speed to almost a crawl while a gazed in amazement at the beauty all around me.  I did get some pictures but none that could ever capture what I truly saw, this seems to be the case wherever I go, therefor the number of pictures I've take has been minimal.  Unfortunately I don't have any to share of this portion :(

As I was driving I noticed that my moto was not performing as well as it was before I entered Bolivia and I knew it had something to do with elevation but I was uncertain as to what my elevation was. Out of curiosity I pulled off to the side of the road and consulted my now functioning GPS, I figured I was over 9000 ft but when I navigated the GPS to the current location screen I was shocked to see that I was actually over 14000 ft, WOW, I was actually higher than I've ever been, physically ;), and to top it all off, I was on a motorcycle.  Colorado has a couple 14ers that you can drive to the top of but I was not even at the highest point around me, this experience was amazing.  Now I know why my moto is acting so sluggish as she gasps for air I subconsciously do the same just to keep the amount of oxygen pumping through my body.  I pull back out onto the road and continue to head towards Sucre, the weather is beginning to change as I watch the clouds roll in and feel the formation of rain as I ride through the clouds.  The scenery is stunning but I now have to put on the rain suit to avoid getting soaked, it's only taken me 3 months of getting soaked to start using my rain suit.  Before I would hold out while i thought to myself that the rain won't last that long, "I'll be fine."  Then the next thing you know, I'm soaked, shivering and really wishing I would of taken the 30 seconds to throw on the appropriate gear.  Now I know better but now when I use the rain suit it turns out that the rain doesn't last that long and I really didn't need it but oh well.

The next town I enter is Potosi, this will be the first place in Bolivia that I purchase gas, I'm a little worried because what I've read about Bolivian gas isn't too promising.  It's best to prefilter and use as little of the stuff as possible.  Unfortunately I'm not prepared to prefilter so I'll just be taking a chance. I've also read about a little something called "Factura", it's basically a tax imposed at the pump for tourists only.  I roll up to the pump and look at the cost of fuel, $3.48 Bolivianos per liter, a little currency conversion math = $0.50 USD/liter.  Not bad, a little factura added to that, probably wont be so bad.  Well, I was wrong, with Factura the price is now $9.6 bolivianos per liter.  Thats over $1.00 USD per liter, so now the cost has increased to about $5.00 USD per gallon :(   Well, so much for saving money on gas in this country.  I fill up my tank and continue on my way, later on I learn the importance of bribery and getting gas "Sin Factura."  Now it's time to get the heck out of Potosi, from my point of view not a great town to visit, smoggy, 1950's trucks belching out thick black smoke, slow moving vehicles on steep hills making my pace slow to well below 40 mph the next 15 or so miles.  As I near the border of the city and my speed improves so does the weather.  I'm now out of the clouds and smog and headed in the direction of sunlight.

As I get closer to Sucre my energy level begins to fall, this is the worst time to lose energy.  My reaction time is slower but traffic is increasing.  My temper begins to worsen, this combined with crazy traffic is a bad combination.  When I notice this feeling coming I have my routine to turn my frown upside down but my routine isn't working so well today.  The next 30 minutes feels like hours as I weave through the city trying to focus on the traffic and get to my destination safely, my GPS isn't helping the situation, it keeps telling me to turn the wrong way on one way streets then when I fail to turn the rerouting takes too long and I miss the next turn.  So, after dealing with this I finally roll up to the hostel, Kultur Berlin, No parking in sight but I do notice another moto in the entry to the hostel.  I park the bike on the street, go through the routine of taking of the valuable stuff that can be stollen pretty quickly by a passerby.  I enter, check in, get told that tonight is a fiesta and think nothing of it, then work out the arrangement of parking my bike in the hostel entrance way.  I run up to my room  drop of the stuff I took off and begin the process of driving into the hostel.  This is always fun because everyone close by is staring at you, usually it goes pretty smooth, just have to ride up a couple steps which generally isn't a problem.  But this time, the steps are at that not so perfect spacing, as my front wheel hits the second step the rear wheel hits the first, for those who have tried this you understand my woes.  Fully loaded this starts to seem like a clown show, I roll back a foot or so and hit the gas to try and overcome the first step, but every time the wheel hits I just come to a halt.  Tired, hungry and just ready to rest I finally realize I just need to come at an angle, I back up change angle and the next attempt is successful.  I pull the bike as close to the wall as possible and shut her down.  Lock up everything I can, carry my bag to room and begin the wind down process.  After a shower and change of clothes its now time to grab a bite and check out the scene.  After I eat I take a quick nap, wake up and wonder around a bit.  As the night closes in I start to realize that this hostel is also a night club, not exactly what I needed but how bad could it be?  Well, it turns out, pretty bad!!  My room just happens to be the worst room for this situation, it's up stairs but directly above the club, so much for a quiet nights sleep.  Thankfully I'm exhausted and i have my earplugs.

I ended up sleeping pretty well despite all the noise, after breakfast, which is a pretty good buffet I go to Sucre Spanish School and set up my classes and arrange for my homestay.  I won't go into the boring details but the homestay is a super nice family and includes breakfast and a 2 course lunch for less than $13/day!  The lessons are super cheap as well, only $6/hr.  The next three weeks are spent focusing on learning Spanish, unfortunately my first teacher was difficult to learn with.  Some of you know about my hearing loss problem, but the short of it is, true story, the decibel range that I have the hardest time hearing is the range that the average women voice falls in.  Not lying, I have the doctors note to prove it:)  On top of that the room echoes, she faces the whiteboard a lot while talking and the last straw was she had a really nice looking butt.  I don't need any distractions and nice butt makes it really hard to focus.  So after the first lesson I make a strange request and get a really strange look, I ask for a male teacher.  I make it clear that I'm not gay, I just need to focus and I'll be able to hear what they are saying better.  So the next day I get to class and.....well.....they didn't listen.  Another hot teacher.  I decide to give it a shot and just try my hardest to focus, it was difficult but the next three weeks she does a great job.  I learn quite a bit of Spanish and I make a really good friend in Sucre.  She helped me out a lot over the three weeks.  We find a mechanic, extend my visa (because I was only supposed to be in Sucre for a week), find odds and ends that I need for my travels and shows me a good time.  Carla is an amazing kind soul and I hope that we cross paths again in the future!!

This was the longest I've ever stayed in one place since I began riding my moto!  I met some of the most friendly people, both travelers and locals.  My mechanic, Gustavo or Reka as his friends call him, also owns a KLR, so our connection is instant and we eventually become really good friends.  Reka goes way out of his way to find the parts I need as well as take care of some small issues with my bike that have been bothering me, nothing major, but things that just needed to be done.  After realizing a week wasn't long enough and finding out that I couldn't get my parts until the middle of the 2nd week, I decided that I was just going to stay for 3 weeks.  At first I was just going to grab the parts that I needed and hit the road but then Reka said "Why don't you just stay for the weekend?"  and I said "Why?, I would love to but I gotta get on the road, I'm already behind schedule."  Then Reka said, "Well, about 80 of us are doing a 3 day 2 night ride over the weekend and you should join us."  and my reply was "OK, I mean FUCK YEAH (Sorry for the bad language), thats why i'm doing this trip, NO is no longer in my vocabulary when it comes to invites, ESPECIALLY invites like this one!!!"

The next part is long, so I'll save that for its own post.......

Hasta Luego,
Gringo Moto

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bolivia: Part 2

I wake up after my first night in Uyuni and feel like shit, I swear I don't remember going out last night but why does it feel like I got back to the hostel late last night after an all night binge drinking session?  OH Yeah, i'm now at 13,000 ft!!  I'm not having a very good start in Uyuni, I tossed and turned all night, was constantly thirsty and have a headache that just won't go away.  The next three days were like this, a lack of energy also accompanied these symptoms of high altitude sickness.  So needless to say, I spent most of these days laying around not doing anything but sleeping, eating and generally nothing.  The only reason I was staying was to meet up with my friends from Switzerland, it's now been about a month or more since I last rode with them and I was excited to see them one last time before they head home.  On the 3rd day that I was there they finally arrived, we had a quick reunion with dinner, they chose to have a beer, I opted out because I was already feeling hungover and I didn't need to add to that feeling.  Since they arrived late our reunion was short, we arranged our Salt flats tour for the next day and parted ways until the next morning.  That morning we met for breakfast and made arrangements for our bikes to be in secure parking until we returned 2 nights later.

Salt Flats Tour:
Probably the worst tour I've ever taken, especially after I found out how much fun other tour groups were.  I've been constantly reminded of how much fun this tour should have been, whenever I meet a traveler lately and see the pictures they got with the help of there tour guide, my anger returns.  My tour guide was useless, he just would drive to a location, stop and let us out then go back and sit in the vehicle while the 5 of us took pictures.  It seemed normal at the time but once you see the pictures others got, it's definitely not.  I'm grateful that I got to see this amazing scenery but if you ever find yourself in this area of the world AVOID Expedicions Manuel, it should have been called Expedicions Manual, "do it yourself, we're not responsible for your fun."  After 2 nights and 3 days I was excited to get out of Uyuni and make my way down in elevation, I was tired of being tired.  The drive home was equally miserable, the driver kept looking like he was about to doze off.  I would of liked to sleep on the final drive back to Uyuni but so did the driver and since I was in the passenger seat I felt it was my responsibility to make sure our driver didn't pass out and kill us all.  This drive was by far worse than any drive I have on a motorcycle, it made me never want to be in a car ever again.

Enough with the negative talk, my time is Uyuni was well worth it just to see my friends Bernie and Collette one last time before they headed back to Switzerland, after we parted ways they headed back to Valparaiso and I headed to Sucre.  Over breakfast I shared my experience with the border crossing that I took because they were headed the same direction.  They opted to go after lunch but thankfully because they were leaving it was likely their experience with the Bolivian guardar that I had would be much easier, they just need to make sure that they were there after 2:30 pm so that they didn't interrupt lunch;) We parted ways after breakfast, I was sad to see them go but happy I got one last adventure with them, our time together was filled with adventure and excitement, I am looking forward to visiting them both in Switzerland one day.

My ride to Sucre was be cont.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bolivia: Part 1


The day I left Chile for the last time was like any other day, I woke, packed up what remained from the previous nights packing, loaded it all on my bike, paid for my stay at the hostel and hit the road after a quick breakfast.  The only difference in this day was the fact that I was finally leaving Chile for good, well until my next moto adventure.  As I was driving towards the Chile/Bolivian border I started to get that feeling of butterflies in my stomach again, I haven't had this feeling since my very first border crossing, but after you cross between Chile and Argentina 8 times, it becomes quite routine.  As I continued to drive and change my focus on the scenery around, those feelings began to fade.  The landscape was clearly changing, as I weaved down the winding desert roads I began to feel a change in climate, the heat of the desert began to fade and a noticeable decrease in power from my motorcycle became apparent.  As I looked onto the horizon another change was making itself visible, the massive mountains of Bolivia were coming into view and dominating the horizon.  The reality of entering Bolivia was finally hitting, up until now I haven't felt that I was ever going to leave Chile, the feeling of sadness was there but the thrill of something new, a new chapter, was quickly overshadowing the feeling of sadness.

Left to Right Top to Bottom
1) Road Leaving Chile                    
2) Border Crossing at Chilean Side
3)Erupting Volcano                         
4)Amazing volcano                         
5)Bolivian Road                              

As I got closer to the the Chilean border crossing, entering the first layer of mountains, my bike was really starting to show how much elevation gain I was actually making.  My curiosity about my elevation was really getting to me and the fact that my gps wasn't operating was upsetting.  But shortly after this feeling I came across a sign that satisfied my curiosity, the sign read, Elevation 4.2 Km, WOW, no wonder my bike was so sluggish.  After about 80 km of riding I finally reached the Chilean border, it was finally happening, I'm exiting Chile for the last time.  The process was simple, a little confusing but the guards were friendly and helpful.  After I got my exit stamp and turned over my temporary importation paperwork I was on my way to the Bolivian border.  The land here is quite desolate, I couldn't imagine having to work at this border crossing, at least the town of Calama isn't too far from the Chilean side but the same cant be said for the Bolivian side.  The nearest, semi large town seems to be Uyuni and thats almost 200 miles away which is about 6 hours of driving when it comes to Bolivian roads.

As I approached the border I was pleased to see another moto adventurer, he was a Chilean guy and spoke english.  We talked a little bit but he was done with his paperwork and about to take off but before he took off he warned me of the border official with a bad attitude.  As if I wasn't nervous already, I now had to deal with an unpleasant border official.  Apparently lunch at the border is taken very seriously, lunch at the border means that you cannot cross until after lunch.  Which doesn't seem like too big of a deal, but when you take into account that lunch is 2 hrs, then you should definitely take this into account when planning your arrival, I was lucky, I didn't know this but ended up arriving 30 min before lunch ended, so my wait wasn't long.  When I finally got in, an hour later, lunch was extended that day, the border guard had changed his demeanor and wasn't nearly as angry as I was told.  I'm guessing he was just a little hangry when the other guy showed up and interrupted lunch.  Everything was going smoothly until the $160 fee was to be paid.  I planned for this part but clearly not enough, I pulled out my brand new, crisp $100 bills and laid them out on the table, the guard took the first one looked at it thoroughly and then handed it back saying that it was damaged and he couldn't accept it.......What?.....Why?  I wish I had a picture of the bill to show you the problem, but just imagine a brand new $100 bill with a 1mm tear, 1 mm!  I couldn't believe it, but I didn't have a back up, I had no Bolivianos to cover the cost with, I was truly stuck between borders.  I already exited Chile and didn't want to have to reenter just to drive back to Calama and find a $100 bill.  So, put on my best sad and desperate face and sat in line pleading for the next 20 min, as I did this the guard looked at my bill, bending it, holding it to the light, analyzing the tear, staring at me expecting me to magically make a new $100 bill appear.  But eventually he must of gotten sick of my face because he, without saying a word, put the $100 bill in a drawer and started counting out my change.  Of course during my time of begging I offered a bribe of $40 but for some reason he didn't take it and gave me my change and sent me on my way.  The process of importing my bike was much easier, showed the guard my documents, got a stamp and temp import paperwork and I was on my way.  Now the long drive to Uyuni, approx 100 miles....

As I began to drive I pulled up to a fork in the road, my GPS said go right, the sign said go left to Uyuni, my GPS has been wrong before so I decided to go with the sign, I mean, why would a sign be wrong?  Well, it was!!  Left was by far the worst way to go to get to Uyuni!!!  The next 30 miles was the worst road I've been on, my average speed was probably about 10 mph, not good when you have about 80 miles to go.  About 5 miles into this leg of the journey I had my first real OH SHIT moment, I was cruising along handling the nasty road as best as I could when all of a sudden my bike starts making this awful clunk, clunk, clunk, I immediately hit the brakes and kill the engine.  OH SHIT, I just blew up my engine.  I look down, do a quick inspection of the engine and don't see any oil draining out.  I start the engine up, give it some gas, and it sounds fine.  Hmmmm, so I put it in gear and slowly drive forward, clunk, clunk, clunk, damn it, it must be my gearbox.  I stop the engine, get off and cover my face with my hands, OH SHIT, how am I gonna get out of this situation.  I calm down, take a deep breath and brainstorm.  In the mean time I look over my bike and notice that my rain tarp is missing, hmmm, thats bummer.  I then take a look at my chain, which was in bad shape but still functional and I have a moment of PHEEWWWWWWW, thats where my rain fly went and thats why my bike is making such an awful noise.  Apparently my fly wanted to meet my chain and get romantically involved.  The next 10 min was dedicated to using my knife to cut the tarp in small enough pieces to remove as well as rolling the bike back and forth pulling these pieces from the rear cog.  Once removed, I started her back up and continued my journey along this horrible road for the next 2 hours.  

As I approached the intersection for the next segment of road I took a huge sigh of relief when I saw the condition of the road.  Not paved but well traveled hard packed dirt..Pheewww.  The next couple hours were quite a relief but then as time passed so did the rays of sunshine that were lighting up my path.  I promised myself and my friend Christian that I would not drive at night, especially in Bolivia because the roads here are notorious for being really bad with large potholes that eat motos for what ever meal you happen to be, in my case, Dinner.  But as I continued to travel along I found that these roads were in much better condition than I was expecting but it didn't change the fact that I didn't want to be driving at night.  I was about 20 miles or so away from town when it finally got dark, the traffic leaving Uyuni was constant and consisted mainly of large trucks and buses as well as 4-runners with the same setup, large tarp covering the contents on the roof, tour groups leaving for the salt flats.

The next span of time was spent hugging the far right side of my lane as these trucks flew past me in the opposite direction, it was starting to get cold and I was really hungry at this point.  I finally pulled into Uyuni, it was late at night and I had forgotten to look for a hostel and program the location into my gps (phone).  But no big deal the App, iOverlander, is amazing.  I don't need a wifi connection to locate a hostel, I pulled over, opened the app and quickly found a location.  The best thing about this app is the info you get from other visitors, the first thing I look for in the description is secure moto parking.  I quickly find a location and pull in, the owner is kind, like every person I've encountered thus far, and opens up his garage for me.  As I pull in notice another moto, my first thought is, "nice, another moto traveler to talk to."  Unfortunately, I find out from the owner that the owner of the moto isn't hear, worse news is that he is in the hospital and had to leave his moto in Uyuni :(  Not good, my Spanish isn't that good but the information about the owner I get leads me to believe that he broke his leg in an accident and won't be back to get his bike for some time.  Although this is bad news it amazes me how friendly the owner is and I know that if something like that happened to me the last thing I would want to worry about is the security of my bike.  It's nice to know that the community of motorcyclists are well liked and there always seems to be someone willing to help you out.  This is actually the second time I've heard this story and both times the bikes were well taken care of while the owners received the care they needed.  After hearing this scenario twice now, I'm becoming a firm believer in soft panniers, apparently both of the people who were in this situation broke there leg because they put their foot down when their bike began to loose control, the result was their foot being grabbed by the ground causing their leg to be swept backwards into the metal box, and we all know that the winner of bone vs metal is always metal.  So, when I end this trip, my plan is to replace my metal panniers with fabric.  Just keep your fingers crossed that I don't succumb to the same fate as these travelers.  I'm constantly telling myself to never put my foot down when my bike begins to feel like its loosing control, it's best to just ride it out and if you do lay the bike down, the metal boxes and the crash bars up front will create a space that actually protects your leg, so just keep your foot on the pegs.

I'll leave off here and continue with my Uyuni experience next time...I'll try to keep the time between posts shorter this time.  Thanks for following me!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Silver Lining Cont Cont.....

Sorry, I'm a couple days late of my promise, but here is the final installment to the story.

Something that I forgot to mention, this throws off the timeline a little but it's definitely worth telling......I don't think I'll ever be able to express how grateful I am for the people that have helped me, but another example of how Nestor went far beyond what anyone could expect.  While I slept peacefully the first night Nestor was on watch, he was so worried about my moto that he spent that night in the cab of the truck, although he knew that the moto would be fine, he didn't want me to worry about it.  I'm absolutely speechless when I'm told this, I only found out because I woke before he did and when I looked out the window I noticed that he was in the truck.  I had no idea why he slept in the truck until later in the day, Bernie came over and was talking to Nestor, I mentioned that I saw him in the cab that morning. I have no idea how to put how I felt in words, although I felt grateful, the true feeling I had was much more.

So, to continue where I ended yesterday......Monday morning was filled with anticipation, at this point I was ready to get back on the road and continue towards Ushuaia.  After a late night out with friends Nestor was a little less enthusiastic about getting up, but after a couple hours of more of sleep he was finally ready to get up and get moving.  We then loaded up into the camione and headed over to his older sisters house.  But before we get moving I felt this would be the best time to do my best to express my appreciation and offer Nestor a gift for all his help.  I've already decided to give hhim the Uke.  Although I will really mss having my uke, I know that it will be in better hands and more appreciated by Nestor but little did I know how much this gesture would be appreciated.  As we prepare to leave, I take the uke into the house, Nestor thinks that I am just bringing it in because I want to store it there while we go to visit his sister.  With my best attempt at Spanish, I convey to him that I want him to have it as a gift.  The reaction I get is completely unexpected, I knew that he would be happy to receive such a gift but I had know idea that this gesture would bring a grown man to tears.  I, of course, teared up as well when he reacted this way, at this moment I truly realized the gravity of this moment and will never be able to put into words how this moment felt.  I'm speechless, I'm moved by the love this family has shown me and I can't believe that this is happening to me.  I........I love this culture and I wish that everyone could experience what I just experienced.  Now that I write this, many days have passed, I can honestly say that I am looking forward to another breakdown.  If it wasn't for some minute inconvenience, I would have never been able to experience true kindness from a stranger.  I can only hope, that one day, I can pay this gesture forward.

So, after this emotional experience, we continue to complete the task at hand and meet with Nestors sister in hopes that she knows of a mechanic in town.  We arrive at his sisters house after a short drive and after a brief conversation with his sister and her sons I was once again treated to an amazing Argentinian asado!  Completely unexpected:)  While eating, her sons were eager to try their english out on me, which was just about as bad as my Spanish;)  I did learn that her son is a boxer and had recently become the Argentinian champion boxer!  I watched a video of the bout that brought him the title while we both practice our Spanish and English with each other.  At this time my Swiss friend Bernie appeared and helped with translating my problem.  During this interaction, Nestor was discussing my problem with Bernie, his sister and her husband, who is a four wheeler enthusiast and is friends with the local mechanic. At this point I've been extremely lucky but can't believe my luck when I'm told that the mechanic is actually standing outside.  Bernie and Nestor then arrange for the mechanic to take a look at my bike, we then take the bike to his shop where I help in disassembling my bike and remove the fuel tank so that the mechanic can start his diagnosis.  He quickly rules out a fuel problem and moves on to an ignition problem.  After removing the spark plug and checking for ignition he spots the problem and chuckles a bit.  It turns out that the root of my problem is quite simple, a wire has worked itself loose.  He connects the wire and the engine starts right up, no problems.  While I'm extremely excited that this was the problem, I'm a little frustrated that is was such a simple fix....But......if it wasn't for this simple problem I would have never had the experience that I just had.  The silver lining!  Grateful for everything I pay the mechanic, although he insists that I don't, and I get my bike ready.  I talk with Bernie, arrange to meet up with him at his hotel and also arrange to meet up with Nestor and his sister at a nearby restaurant for dinner.  Nestor is hesitant to join us, he doesn't have the money to eat with us at a restaurant, Bernie reassures him that it is not necessary and that we want to take him and his sister out to show gratitude for his kindness.  He hesitantly agrees to meet us.  Unfortunately that will be the last time we see Nestor, understandably, his pride will not allow us to buy him dinner:(  Although I am sad that he did not show, I understand and I wish him well and hope that some day I can return the favor, either to him directly or by paying his good deed forward.  Take care my friend, I hope that the Uke brings you joy everyday you play.  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A silver lining cont.......

So, after departing with my friends from Switzerland, who were kind enough to follow me and brave the extremely long slow drive and nearly freeze to death, I went with Nestor to his place and the Swiss friends went to a posh hotel in town (much deserved after this ordeal).  On the way to Nestors we stopped at a local kiosko to purchase food for dinner,  after grabbing a couple of pizzas we went straight to Nestors.  A short winding dirt road led to his house located on a large plot of baron land with the nearest neighbor about 2km away.  After arriving I was humbled quickly when I was invited in, this is the first time i've been truly introduced to poverty.  Nestors home was a mere shack compared to US standards, there was electricity and running water only when the generator was running, a stove was fueled by portable 20 gallon lpg tanks and large gaps between the walls and ceiling.  Prior to my arrival, Nestor had run out of gas so we to have our pizzas cooked on the wood grill in the back yard.  At that point I was tired and hungry but The first thought in my head was, "WOW, these are the most generous and amazing people i've ever met, they literally have nothing and are offering me everything they have."  There is no way the feeling of hunger and being tired could outweigh the feeling of love this family was showing me.  At this point I had no way of expressing my joy that I had met them due to my severe lack of Spanish, no internet translation application, as well as an introduction to an Argentinian form of the "ll" pronunciation, which is pronounced as "y" sound usually but in much of Argentina is pronounced as a "sh" sound.  I've never heard the sh sound before so many of the words I would normally understand were also lost.  Using hand gestures and bad Spanish we made for much small talk but shortly after the meal it was time to sleep, it was approaching 1 a.m. and we were all exhausted.  As I looked around, I didn't notice anywhere to sleep so I figured it would be either a night of camping or use of my sleeping pad on the floor, neither of which mattered, I was just happy to be somewhere safe with my bike and gear.  I went outside to grab a few of my things and when I returned I noticed in the the short amount of time that I was outside a bed had mystically appeared on the living room floor.  A bed at this point is anything you would consider comfortable after riding 150 miles by motorcycle then an additional 120 miles in a crowded truck with a stranger on your lap.  It turned out to be the pads from the chairs covered with some blankets, the fact that it was offered so freely from such warmhearted people made it the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in.  As soon as the lights went out I was fast asleep.  The following morning I was awoken by a soft rumbling similar to the sound of a motorcycle idling, but before you get too excited, it was merely the house kitten crawling around my head while purring quite loud.  Although not a cat fan, this was a soothing way to wake up after the night I had encountered.  

It's now Sunday morning and that only means one thing.....nothing is open!  For the next hour I lay there pondering what could have possibly caused my bike to quit running.  Unfortunately, in my attempts to self diagnose and restart the bike, I killed the battery.  So, attempting to self diagnose the problem was not an option.  But, what better way to spend the day then try to improve my Spanish by speaking poorly with my new friends.  The better part of the day was then spent trying to learn about my new friends and tell them about me and my travels.......this was going well when I got the urge to break out the Uke and practice a little.....of course my friends were excited to hear some awesome music but when I broke the news to them that I was just learning and I only knew one song they were quick to ask me to play it for them.  As I strummed the go to song for the Uke, Over the Rainbow, I noticed that Nestors mood had changed slightly and his gaze was distant.  His family knew the look and were able to convey that that particular song has a strong meaning in Nestors life.  When I finished playing I tried to figure out the significance and although I don't know the details the gravity of what I was told hit me hard and I knew that the details were not important.  Nestor had a daughter that was killed in a tragic accident and the song that reminds him the most of her is Over the Rainbow:(  

I didn't know what to say literally and emotionally, I couldn't even imagine the pain that someone goes through losing a child, but I did realize that this was my moment to give something back to the man that gave me so much on this journey.  I decided to teach Nestor how to play this song!  I was shocked at first but not surprised that someone can just pick up a musical instrument and learn so quickly.  It took him less than an a day to learn the chords and pickup the strum pattern, a pattern that took me over a month to learn.  The gesture made his day and I knew that this was the best way to pay him back for his kindness, at that moment I decided that when we part ways I will give him my Uke.  As Sunday comes to an end and our hunger comes I offer to pay for dinner, Nestor conveys that he is also a cook and would like to cook the meal.  Nestor and I then jump into the truck, still loaded with my bike, and head into town.  We pick up a bunch of meat and veggies and then head back to his house.  Next thing you know.....

Authentic Argentinian Asado

Absolutely amazing meal by Nestor......Incredible, I just can't explain what this meal tasted like, words will never do it justice.  So of course after a large meal like this what comes next? Siesta.....but no....unfortunately not this time.  Little did I know, but Malvina was moving into her new place today and guess who's helping?  Of course I'll help, I can sleep when I'm dead!!  So the next couple hours were spent loading up her furniture from various locations and bringing it over to her new place to set up.

Well after all the moving I did get to shower, Malvinas place is a newer style home with all the amenities and I was offered the opportunity to shower and it was the best shower I've ever had.  Now it's time for a short siesta but not too long because we now have plans to hang out with some of Nestors friends and eat more pizza and drinks some cerveza.....this part was pretty uneventful but I had a good time hanging out with his friends.  

The final portion of this story will have to wait until tomorrow, I promise I'll finish the story tomorrow though.  Stay tuned, its a great ending!!

Until then,

El Gringo

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A silver lining

So, although there is much to the story of how I got here I want to fast forward to tell the story of two significant events that I experienced most recently.  Although these events started out as unexpected mechanical issues that initially caused a bit of stress and worry the resulting experiences proved to be so much more rewarding.  

The first experience occurred while driving in the most unfavorable conditions.  Although the wind in Argentina is the worst I've ever experienced I've been able to overcome the inconvenience of constantly leaning into the wind while having my head and body whipped around as an oncoming large truck passed by and driving in the rain has always been my least favorite condition but with a positive outlook and some good tunes I've always been able to continue with a smile on my face but the combination of the two has been an experience that I'll never forget!  I've now been on the road for well over 2000 miles and my tires are beginning to wear to the point where i'm not exactly comfortable with their ability to maintain traction, let alone traction on wet pavement.  The combination of wind and rain is causing me to loose feeling in my hands due to a combination of cold and grasping my handlebars with a death grip, aka White knuckling.  But because I am traveling with others I press on rather than find a place to stay and call it a night knowing that the weather will be much for favorable tomorrow.  I wish I had pictures of this experience to better show what I was going through but I hope my words give the experience justice.  If you need help, just imagine driving your moto through Wyoming on the windiest of days x10 and then throw in some clouds with a constant drizzle, thankfully it wasn't a down poor.  Anywho, after about 2 hours of this nonsense, we finally get a break from the rain and come across a YPF gas station, these are pretty decent gas stations that provide a place to sit and have some coffee and they usually have wifi.  So we pull into the station grab some coffee and take a much needed break while we discuss our feeling about the driving conditions and fantasize about arriving at our location which will have hot showers and a relatively comfortable bed.  

After a short break we put our wet gear back on, thankfully I brought an extra pair of gloves so I can now return warmth to my hands and hopefully keep them warm.  We start up the bikes and merge back out onto the road, every thing is going smooth for about a mile or so when my bike starts to sputter and eventually dies.  I wave down my friends to let them know that something is wrong with my bike.  As I attempt to restart my moto it quickly becomes apparent that my attempts are in vane, something is wrong but I can't figure it out.  Roadside diagnosis leads me to believe its a fuel delivery problem, I rule out bad fuel because the last time we filled up we all topped off our tanks and no one else's bike is experiencing problems.  So we start to think maybe its a clogged fuel filter, we attempt to bypass the filter by syphoning gas from the tank to the carburetor with an old camelback hose I just happened to keep in my pannier.  I got a good chuckle when my Swiss friend ,Bernie, volunteered to start the syphon and got a pretty good mouthful gas;)  I would have done this on my own but he jumped in and took over the job of syphoning.  After this failed attempt Bernie then jumped on his bike and rode back to the gas station to see if anyone there could look at my bike and help fix it, unfortunately there were no mechanics at the station.  He then asked if they could arrange a tow, the attendant informed Bernie that it would be extremely expensive to do so but suggested that we push the bike back to the gas station and wait for a truck that was headed in the same direction and hitch a ride.  Bernie then returned to my location and we loaded my bike back up with all my gear and began to push the behemoth back to the station.  This was not easy, as I pushed the bike my leg kept hitting the pannier forcing me to stretch my arms out and attempt to push it with arms fully extended, by doing it this way it became difficult to balance my overweight beast. 

About a 100 meters into this ordeal I told Bernie I needed a break, looking ahead I was daunted by the distance that we still had left but also thankful this happened so close to the gas station.  This is when a truck full of angels appeared and pulled frown quickly flipped upside down as my hero stepped out of the truck with a huge Argentinian smile, wearing a suave leather jacket and french beret.  Thankfully my friend Bernie speaks Spanish much better than me and was quickly able to greet my hero and confirm we would be much appreciative of his assistance.   At this point I'm extremely grateful but a little concerned on how we're going to get my bike up onto the bed of the truck.
It's obvious we are going to need to lift it up, I wonder how the 3 of us are going to accomplish this .  The drivers sons ages 15 and 13 are present as well but I'm quick to judge and think that they wont be of much help.  They quickly proved me wrong and before I could even blink the bike was unloaded of its gear, hoisted up and strapped down.  We then loaded my gear in the back and tied that down as well.  Now that we were loaded up and ready I went to jump in the cab,  I opened the cab door and was about to jump in when I was greeted by the smiles of 5 others, ok, now what, theres no way I'm going to fit inside.  I decide to offer to sit in back and endure the next 120 miles but was told I would freeze and they would not allow me to do that.  So, once everyone except me and Nestor's sister are in the truck, I hop in and Malvina, Nestors sister,  sits on my lap for the next 2.5 hours.  As I attempt to hide my discomfort I eventually loose all feeling in my legs but this a small price to pay for the service provided.  For the next 2.5 Bernie and Collette follow to ensure they stay in contact with me upon arrival to Commodoro Rivadavia, the next town and the town the Nestor's family resides in.  Upon arrival Bernie discusses his lovely wife's condition with Nestor, he's concerned that she has become ill because of this long cold ride and requires immediate attention and accommodations for the night, he is given a name to the hotel and after we quickly exchange farewells and assurance of our rejoining the next day, Bernie and Collette leave for the night.  I am than taken to Nestors house where I will settle in and sleep for the night, the bike will have to be taken care of the next day.  

The next morning.......To Be Continued......

El Gringo

Bolivia: The final installment

My time in Bolivia was much longer than originally anticipated!  Mainly in part to the invitation I received from my new friend and mechani...