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Day 382 – 25th December 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on December 25, 2009

Friday – La Paz, Bolivia

Xmas day started out crap but ended well 🙂

I was up early, well, earlier than normal, because I had gone to bed early and I was feeling OK actually. I went for a wander down to the harbour as breakfast would not be available until 7.30. Not much happening down there except what looked like a union meeting of some sort, they were jabbering loudly anyway 🙂

After a bit of breakfast we tried hard to get the bikes out but they were blocked in, but in the end I just hopped on the back of Grahams and we shot off to the border to see if Chris and Melissa were there. As it happens they were and were in the final stages of the entry process. They had to do it backwards(or more likely the normal way in that they had to pass immigration and pay a visa price of $135 before importing the bike) and after about 30 minutes were finally issued a TVIP 🙂

After getting them back to the hostel, some of us decided to ride away, there was nothing much here and we wanted a room with internet so we could plan things and work, whatever was needed. Of course by now it was raining and quite cool, but we soon had our bikes packed and most of us left. This is when near disaster struck, when I was connecting the GPS it was not working and when I looked, one of the pins was bent and even though I was gentle, when I bent it back upright, it snapped off and fell into the mud, never to be seen again 😦 This meant at this stage it would not accept power from the bike, but is working on batteries, but I will not know until later whether the data connection to the computer still works.

Johannes was crook, so was Gino, so they stayed behind and Chris and Melissa stayed with them. We were heading to La Paz and hoped to find a nice place to stay for a few days while tyres were sorted out and would send Chris the location once we were settled. We headed off around 11.30 and climbed the hills behind the town, it would have been nice twisties except for the wet, but once at the top the views were great.

We climbed over the pass and down the other side and on the way saw many many kids on the side of the road with their hands out. We worked it out that as it was Xmas day, the towns people drive out to the country and hand out food, money and gifts to the poor people. The kids had shelters built to stay under when the rain was bad.

We got to the water crossing and gingerly backed the bikes onto the little punts which had dodgy floors, very unstable, but the only way across the lake to the other side!

I had a small moment riding off, because of the rain and the slippery planks, the back end slid sideways off the punt onto shore, that was heart in mouth moment! It was only 100km to La Paz so we got stuck into it, but because of the large amount of gift givers we were held up on occasion. We spotted some other riders and stopped for a chat, these are from Brazil and spending a lot of time off road and camping.

The rain did dry up after a while and although cool, it was fun to ride at speed on the Altoplano, or high plateau 🙂 By 2pm we were on the outskirts of La Paz, the highest capital city in the world at an elevation of just on 3700m or 12,000ft.

We headed down into town, learning to stay to the left of the mini vans as they are taxis and will pull to the right at any time without looking. We were headed down into a section of town called Sucre, supposedly a nice area while the poorest get to stay up on the high sections of town. The town is built inside a valley and looks impressive from above, so does the metal statue of Che 🙂

After a bit of running around going nowhere, we finally found a hotel with secure parking and internet 🙂 The Hotel Osira turned out to be the best place to stay and was quite cheap after Gert talked them down to $19 per person per night, well done that lad 😉 The views from the balcony were of the park and in the background the city spreading up the sides of the hills.

This is when I found out that the GPS was no longer able to communicate with the laptop, so that meant I could no longer retrieve the days tracks, nor upload routes, a very dismal time, but being a techo, I started to think of a way around the problem, it would depend on whether I can find a shop with the right gear and or bits and bobs! That is for tomorrow though, in the meantime I started to do a post, but found the uplink speed was very slow, so I wandered down town with a USB drive full of photos and movies to upload. I went past a chook and chips joint and grabbed some chips as I had missed lunch. I chose a gaming cafe, but found the speed just as suspect, so it looked bad for the blog updates as I only managed to upload 4 pictures in half an hour 😦 As I was heading back, I bumped into Graham, Sue, Gert and Chris. It was a pain really as I had left my camera back in the hotel! After this we headed back but Gert and Chris went somewhere else, while we spotted Mike and Alanna over the road. They are the Ural couple we met in Nazca, how lucky was that 🙂 They invited us to their hostel for beers, they have a bar there and the place is crawling with Ozzies apparently 🙂 From this point on I borrowed Alanna’s camera on occasion for some shots of the evening, as it was Xmas day, everyone was on the turps, nothing wrong with that 🙂

Now, how about this for a coincidence, while I was grabbing another beer, I was chatting with a young Ozzie girl who comes from Rockhampton, my home town, cool eh! Not only that but her sister was also here working behind the bar, but wait, there is more, a couple of blokes also from Rocky were here also 🙂

There were some dudes in fancy dress, I am not at all sure about these, they need to read Rule #1.

I tried to get a group shot of all the Rocky people but it turns out the blokes left for elsewhere, so it was just me and Chelsea and a solo of her sister who was working very hard this evening, sorry I forgot your name, email me and I will fix it 🙂

We hung around until after 9 before we headed off, the average age without us was about 22, so we were a bit out of place 🙂 Mike and Alanna decided to arrive at our hotel tomorrow as it would be better than they had. All in all an average day by the time I crashed out, just a bit tiddly, but meeting the Rocky girls was a bonus 🙂

Day – 100 miles and 161 km
Trip – 47,460 miles and 76,379 km



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