LaPaz & more

Will I live tomorrow?
Well, I don’t know
Will I live tomorrow?
Well, I don’t know
But I know for sure
I will live today

Jimi Hendrix

Thoughts of our visit to LaPaz. It is another city. It has it’s unique qualities such as being built in a steep valley. I am amazed at the steepness of the slopes of which they build on, and multistory buildings. The city is apparently somewhat divided by the richer and poorer areas as are most cities. In taxi rides about town one saw the discrepancies, in general lower elevation were preferred. There is a gondola which stretches over the city from one end to the other. I am not sure if it is tourist or transport oriented. That view would provide an interesting perspective.

As in much of Bolivia trash is scattered about and there are smells of all sorts of human activity. Street vendors are scattered about the sidewalks and in the roadway, selling everything from kitchen Formica to tourist knick knacks, food vendors with some delicious looking meals. And hidden away restaurants which are difficult to see on the outside but delightful inside (with wifi). A barrage of the senses. I did not eat much as feeling sick but on our departure while waiting for Ellen, our cook, to do some final shopping for wine and cake I did sample an excellent empanadas. Fresh out of the oven and just delivered to the street vendor. Filled with beef, vegetables, hard boiled egg, olives. Oh my gosh it was a taste sensation. Sickness be damned. The two two dozen which were delivered were all gone by others by the time I had eaten and paid for my empanadas and coffee.

We had arrived in LaPaz on Friday afternoon and as noted in an earlier blog I was alone and got lost. Now I have discovered I was way lost not even remotely on the route. But I made it and another adventure was had. Saturday early we began the death road bike trip which took an entire blog site. One addition to the end of the death road was when we finished at a place called Monte Carlo resort where we had eaten and showered. After eating we were sitting out on patio watching the parrots arguing and flying about and seeing monkeys on the other side of the valley. Joost and I noticed under a banana leaf a white nodule about 10 centimeter across and deep with crawlie things. So we inspected to get a closer look. It appeared an ant colony as the critters were about medium ant size. Getting yet a closer look and lifting the leaf more the white nodule began to turn black and pulsate.. It was a wasp nest and they were now mad. We scrambled away waving arms like mad men. Ouch and ouch. 3 of us got a painful bite joust, Barry, and myself.

Sunday arrived and I was still feeling as they say in Australia a bit crook. But the diarrhea seemed somewhat at least under control. So joined 7 others we hailed to cabs by waving your arm in front of them as they drive by and proceeded to a futball game of the local LaPaz team against someone else. What a hoot. About 8000 in attendance and being Sunday was family day. Stadium was open air and about 1/2 to 2/3 full. No announcer to rouse up the crowd but all was good. Bought our tickets through a chain link fence wandering through the team paraphernalia, styrofoam cushion for sale, and food vendors of which I had to try. Empanadas, sausages, oh my gosh great. Diarrhea be damned this was amazing.

The game was good although not great. The home team won 2-0 and the fans were happy. When the final whistle blew everyone took there styrofoam cushions and tossed them into the air. At this time it was raining hard so Terry and I each purchased a poncho and worked our way out the only exit open. Found a cab in which the driver was not familiar with our area of town and we wandered around a bit, when we decided to walk, as we knew we were in our neighborhood. Another adventure.

A good meal at a restaurant, my first as had not been feeling well. Home to the hotel and wonderous sleep. Buck woke me at 6:30 and I rushed to dress and prep for day. By the time I was dressed in bike gear I was exhausted and realized today’s biking was not to be. It has been six days of diarrhea and enough, so started antibiotic in hopes it is bacterial and changed to street clothes. I was going to go in the truck.

Our two trucks are converted fire trucks and designed to hold up to 10 people including the driver. Enroute out of town we stopped at a gas station filling up with 200 liters of diesel of which local price was $68, but we have to pay tourist price of $190. That is established as there is a different rate for tourists and locals. And fire trucks are not designed to drive long distances. One must admit it is unique to drive cross country in Bolivia in a fire truck. Today there were 8 of us. Robert the driver, Maria his wife, Ellen our cook, and in the back Cristen from Norway, Elizabeth from Australia, Vivian from Australia who started in Quito but had left in Cusco for her daughters wedding in Sydney returning to trip in LaPaz, and Barry from Australia, and me. 135 kilometers later we are what we call a bush camp. Just camping beside the road near a village where there used to be a hotel but it is no longer there. Robert went and checked with the mayor ( or whatever the official is) and asked permission that we camp in the futball pitch. The mayor came and met us ( none of the bikers had arrived yet) and he seemed impressed I was from Alaska, the land of the white bears. If it rains hard it may be a bit muddy as the ground is just dirt.

The countryside is continuing altoplano. Looking out it appears the new sprouts of grass are emerging and the sheep with their new lambs give hints of coming springtime. Great time of year.

And today is Jeanne’s and my anniversary. Marriage is not always easy but I believe I am proving easy does not always make it good. Sometimes working hard leads to a wonderful time. And I would not trade the past 23 years for any other adventure. Hoping for another 23 years.

And an amazing afternoon and evening. Set up tent and shortly later 5 mm size hail then pouring rain. I thought wow, in 3 camps thus far for me I have had more rain than Joe and I had in 71 days on the great divide. But then the rain stopped and the wind with thunder and lightening. Keep in mind we are out on a big plain. I and assume others were in our sleeping bags just napping keeping warm, but the wind was now blowing about 30 mph. (Sorry I cannot guess kilometer). And my tent was sideways. It is the same tent I took on the great divide but it had never been tested in wind. Thought it was going to be flattened but it survived. Finally after a nap and watching the center pole bend in all various contortions, I got out and reset the tent length wise which made the tent happier. It has to last 2 1/2 more months.

The trucks during this time had moved. Apparently the school next to futball pitch had invited us to use two classrooms for cooking and eating. Hence indoor in one of the classrooms. Great meal noodles chicken, sauce, spinach, beans, with a great Bolivian wine of a good year (2014). Guess I will learn to like wine as entering some great wine country. After a cake with whipping cream, and some fruit on top. Then I put myself on cleanup and dishes began. Cleaning up for 45 people plus the school headmaster and a couple of students and teachers. A four part system first a big pan of hot water with soap and heavy dose of Clorox, two people use this and do first wash, then second wash is same without Clorox, third is rinse then dry and fourth separate the dishes into appropriate bins. And a good time was had by all (about 10 of us).

On the school walls were a few papers showing studies of the crusades in Europe, and studies of the valence state of the elements of the periodic chart. Not a book in sight or paper other than that on the wall.

After dinner coffee and chocolate and I meander to my tent by 8:30. Late by my standards. Feeling better would like to ride tomorrow but will wait to see how the night goes. Only a 99 kilometer day with 350 meters of elevation, but do not want a setback.

And looking ahead until 14 December when we end in Ushuaia we have only 13 hotel, hostels now. So this is my home for a while. Goodnight all. I hope you are all well and finding life as interesting as I do.

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Traffic police outskirts of LaPaz

Terry buying a ticket for big game

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One thought on “LaPaz & more

  1. Thank you for that recent wonderful post JR. Keep up the good work, stay healthy and be safe. I hope your GI tract is back to normal. Congratulations on you 23rd Anniversary !!!

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