TravellingStrom

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Day 395 – 7th January 2010

Posted by TravellingStrom on January 7, 2010

Thursday – Uyuni, Bolivia

Well, I found out some bad news during the breakfast meeting. We had arranged to listen to a tour guide about seeing the salt lake and while chatting to her, we were told the road to Ollegue was impassable due to the wet weather, so that put a dampener onto my plans for leaving today. 😦 If I could not go via that route, there was only three ways to go to get into Chile to see the Dakar.

1. I head back north over the road I did yesterday and head nearly as far north as La Paz before heading west to the coast then south, what a long way round to go, so I discounted that one.
2. I could head south and east into Argentina, maybe even by train as the road was bad, then west into Chile, but this would take me further away from the much needed tyre I would need soon for the back, another option put to one side.
3. The last option was to ride with the group, through the Atacama desert and into San Pedro de Atacama which is in Chile, then somehow meet the Dakar as it comes up north. This in the end was the only viable option and as much as I hated to waste another day in the desert, it looked like today was a tourist day! I had to ignore the fact my rear tyre was wasted and hope I could get there, no other option was available at this time!

So, while we waited for the tour bus, I did some basic maintenance on the bike and noticed that the back bolt on the chain guard had disappeared, so I searched through my stuff and found another bolt that would do 🙂

The actual worse thing about the above picture is the fact I spotted the master link in the chain had a freaking spring clip on it!!!! I told them dudes in the shop I wanted a rivet master, crikey do I have to do everything myself and they are supposed to be Suzuki techs!!! Now I am worried about the damm thing letting loose! I am going to have to send them a nasty email or something, that is downright dangerous, even the Suzuki manual says use a rivet! 😦 Oh well, I guess it has lasted this long, so although it will niggle at me, there is nothing I can do about it out here. So, after the normal Bolivian never on time waiting mode, we finally left on our 10.30 tour at 11.20. As we had a group of 6, we could dictate what we wanted to see and as I had no idea what was what, I left it to the others, with the stipulation that I could be back at 4pm so I can go to the immigration office and get a stamp out of Bolivia.

Now, this may sound funny, but we are 400km from the border yet I can get a predated stamp for 3 days hence and I must leave the country by then. But, the bike on the other hand cannot be handled here, it has to be handled down south about 50km from the border, it is so weird and not even in the same direction as the border post, you have to backtrack after the exit stamp, loco country! Anyway, we headed out onto the salt pan and I can say that sunglasses were the order of the day, that white is super white and burns!

We soon got amongst the wet stuff and the reflections from the mountains were a bonus, even though the water stopped me travelling west!

After an hour or so of riding across the salt pan we spotted the island we were heading for up ahead. Now, this whole salt pan is about 150 metres deep at the deepest and covers an area of 150km by 180km with some small islands poking up here and there. These are home to some cactus, 3 different types and are quite magnificent to look at.

The first thing we saw was a Rhea, which is an introduced species and makes a mockery of the supposedly National Park status which allows them to rip off the tourists with an entrance fee, which was not included in our tour price nor mentioned before we left, Oboliviad again!

Anyway, we had a spiel by the guide who was very good and had great English and was funny to boot 🙂 After he had done the talk in English he repeated this for Gino in Spanish, and after that we got stuck into lunch of chook and salad, It was supposed to be Llama meat, but never mind!

Once lunch was done with we were free to explore the Island and take whatever photos we wanted. I headed uphill while the rest played down on the salt pan with perspective and cameras. The views from up here were real cool, especially with the flat white salt plain in every direction! 🙂

Once back down at the bottom I found out about the camera thing and managed to get one photo that shows what I mean, although it is not the best.

Once the rest of the group returned from their walk around we headed back. We had done things different from the start and had not gone to the salt mine, nor the tourist stalls on the way here, so that meant we had a quiet time. By the time we left, the place was packed with 4wd’s but this is empty, in peak season they have up to 60 trucks at once!!!

Once we were clear of everyone, we hopped out for a group photo, from left to right, Johannes, Jude, Gino, Me Sue and Graham.

On the way back we also stopped for some salt crystals. There are small holes in the ice which water is forced up through by the pressure a long way down. The water from the rain on the hills runs under the salt and there are at least four rivers which find gaps in the ice and work their way to the surface, so there are lots of small and large caverns under the surface salt. Graham with his long arms managed to get some crystal salt and once washed in the sun they looked excellent 🙂

The next stop was the salt hotel, but as we were pushed for time other priorities got in the way, what I mean is we saw a group of riders who were heading south and had stopped for a break, their bikes were absolutely sloppy with wet salt, not the way I would treat my new bike!

We finally got back to Uyuni around 4.40pm, late of course, but I scabbed a lift to immigration and after a very painless 2 minutes was out the door with my exit stamp 🙂 That is all it took, tell them which day you want to be out the country, they stamp with that days date, pay them $21Bob and the job is done, easy 🙂 Just as I was leaving I spotted Chris, Melissa, Ingo and Cecelia coming down the street, so I told them about the passport and they got theirs done as well! It can be done at the actual border post, but as they have closing times, this is the better option 🙂

Once back at the hotel, there was more anguish for Chris, the bus that was supposed to arrive with the extra tyres on it was late and the office would be closed at 7pm, just another brick in the wall!

So, we had a few beers and wines in the foyer and after a few hours the bus office was checked and yeehaa, the tyres had arrived, a lot of happy faces finally 🙂

Sorry about the blurr, the camera was on the wrong setting. Now, tomorrow I had committed myself to once again riding with the group south into territory I had no real wish to be in, soft sand, corrugations etc, but with a support vehicle to take most of the baggage and the pillion passengers as well, and food water etc, the bikes would be lighter and riding in a group through the desert would be a lot safer. I was hoping that even with the detour into the desert, I could still hopefully meet up with the Dakar, this also was a goal of Graham and Chris, so between us we could see that it could still happen, but it would be tight and mean some hard riding.


Day – 0 miles and 0 km
Trip – 48,317 miles and 77,759 km

Salud
TravellingStrom

WORLD

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12 Responses to “Day 395 – 7th January 2010”

  1. Donunder said

    Lots of drama TS. Travelling with a group has its social advantages but in turn you “inherit” the stress and problems of others. By the way, have you heard from Vincent lately? The tension mounts– will he/won’t he make it to the Dakar? Don’t miss it now you’re this close! Good luck!

    • Hi Don

      I am not a group social person, so actually having to interact with a group is a situation I am unfamilier with, but that is what travel is all about

      As for Vincent, the last I heard he was in Santiago, Chile, but that was weeks ago and I have heard nothing since, but he is probably wooing the ladies down south 🙂

      Cheers TS

  2. ybg said

    You’ll get there, as payment for all your patience.

  3. GrahamD said

    Hey mate,

    Excellent stuff as usual.

    The rear bolt from the chain guard seems to be a common problem. Mine came off just bringing it back 300km from where I bought it. so a bit of blue lok-tite was in order.

    Never happened again.

    As for the clips on the chain, I have run many Km with clips (on previous bikes) and never had a problem. If you put them on with the open end facing backwards they are less likely to come off. If you also add a bit of Silastic to the end, after a good clean, they are even less likely to come off. It has never happened to me or anyone I know but I have read about it.

    A badly adjusted chain is worse though.

    Don’t be too hard on the mechanics up there, it happens in Sydney all the time too.

    Can’t seem to follow instructions!

    I feel your pain.

    Cheers
    Graham

    • Hi there Graham

      Thanks for your thoughts, my clip will last, as I know it is facing the right way, but it is the principle of the thing, there are certain parts of the bike which should be done correctly by the technician, and if I find out it has been done the wrong way I am unimpressed!

      When the service has been done by an employed tech in another country by a supposedly professional service mechanic, then it

      Cheers TS

      • GrahamD said

        That is why I give a lot of thought to ever sending anything to a mechanic.

        The only ones I have found to be good are the one man shops.

        Then they go and retire on you and you end up back at square one.

        I have stuck to square one for a while now 🙂

        And yes I agree, there are few mechanics of principle anymore.

        Cheers
        Graham

        • It is a real shame that what happened happened, but I am now in Santiago and maybe I can get a rivet link. The people at this shop I went to for tyres have been so helpful so far, so I think I am in luck once again 🙂

          Cheers TS

  4. Gary said

    TS, back from tassie (rollercoster rides)and following your excellent trip reports. Just checked your UK mate Graham’s blog that you forwarded. This past few weeks he has been focused in your blogs and photos but on his site you would think he was the lone acquisator in your exploits.

    I rode the F650GS(800) for 10 days, thank god there is a strom.

    Gary

    • Hi Gary

      Well, Graham is doing a country by country update, so we are totally different, anyway, what are you doing reading about some other rider, you splitter 🙂

      Cheers TravellingStrom

  5. Gary said

    Love you like a brother, Strom. The beer will taste nice when you get home.

    Gary

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