Friday, May 18, 2007

On the road to the Bolivian Salt flats, in challapata

We are at the end of the paved road from La Paz to Uyuni, did about 220 miles today
after the Brazilian embassy lied to Clara about getting our visas and we wasted the morning there. There is a definite anti-american vibe with some people here in south america. There is also definitely an anti-spanish vibe, which was confirmed by a great spanish couple from bilbao whom we spent a couple days with on the islands in Titicaca, Eva and Jaro.

Our hotel tonight will cost almost 8 dollars, plus 36 cents extra to park our bikes in a secure storage. Bolivia is clearly the poorest country to date. Some shoe shine boys who showed me the way to the bathroom at lunch today were very grateful when I gave them my left over french fries and they gnawed away at my left over chicken breast, and then fed the remains of that to their dog. A good shoeshine for motorcycle boots is 25 cents. The boys even were honest with us and pointed out that the chicken restaurant woman over charged us. Normally the meal is 7 boles (88 cents) but she took advantage of us and charged us 8 boles, which is one dollar! We confronted her, and she just made up an excuse about giving us real potatoes with our food!

The scenery from the sacred valley in Peru until here has been flat altaplano between mountain rages, width of which ranges from half a mile to several miles. The ground is reddish dirt, which gives the sheep an interesting pinkish tone to their wool. Today the dirt started turning white, the remnants of great salt lake which was here millions of years ago. The air is really thin and we get winded going up just a couple flights of stairs. The bikes are hard to start in the morning, and they don´t have much power but once up to speed we cruised at about 75 mph today seeing another vehicle about every 5 minutes. Deep, clear blue sky behind the old, rounded off mountain peaks on either side of us, and flat lakes which look like mirage´s in the distance. La Paz is the home of the red block building, even more than the red bricks in Boston. This style is similar in the cities and towns of Bolivia, but in the countryside it is the same as Peru: mud brick homes with mortar of brown mud. Many, many, maybe 75 percent of the mud homes we passed today are abandoned with no roofs. There is not much here except some minor wheat and grain farming, and sheep, llama, and cattle grazing on the stumps of grass here and there on the altaplano.

It looks like all dirt roads and salt flats from here to Chile, maybe a few days, so I think I am going to try and figure out the GPS tonight.

Spiderman 3 is out on DVD here on the streets for about $1.50. I was a bit disappointed in Peru, it took them 4 days after the release to have bootleg copies on the streets. You hear all about China and copyright violations but from Mexico to hear, I´ve only seen two legitimate stores that sell cd´s and dvd´s. Instead every city and town has street vendors which sell them for around 2 dollars.

Go Sox! (by the way I have a whole story about red sox-yankees. About 90 percent of the baseball caps down here are yankees hats, it is very depressing. However, I´m having a great time letting the Yanks fans know about their last place position!)