Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Bolivia: Day 9

by Kathy 4. December 2007 03:00

< Day 8: Potosí to Sorata | Day 10: Santa Rosa to Guanay >>


Sorata to Santa Rosa


Our Sorata hostel:

We saw this bull from our window:

A view from the front of the hostel:

Today was my favorite day of riding—the roads were all dirt and the most challenging by far, with quite a few washouts and river crossings. We started the day by returning to the town entrance for gas:

Here is the Sorata welcome sign:

We then began our fun-filled day of riding. We wound our way up the mountain behind Sorata, with a multitude of switchbacks. Here is a view of Sorata with the tall mountains behind it; the town is popular with hikers and mountain climbers (and has an altitude of about 8850 feet).

(We must have gotten a smudge or some condensation on our camera lens, as many of the following pictures have a white blur on them—sorry!) The road was basically a dirt jeep trail, with a steep drop off on one side. Cars and jeeps would speed along this road with an apparent lack of concern about colliding head-on with other vehicles.

We came across many beautiful waterfalls. Here are William, Maurice, Ben and I in front of one, with a small water crossing:

On the other side of the road from the waterfall was a woman washing clothes:

(I am SO grateful for the convenience of washing machines.)

The roads would wind up and up and up, and then we would round a corner . . . and find ourselves on the other side of the mountain! Then we would wind down and down and down (with switchbacks galore) until we were near the bottom; there would usually be some type of water crossing over to the next mountain, and then we would start the process all over again, winding our way up the next mountain. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I would gasp with astonishment as I came around a corner and saw a magnificent view before me. Here is one of the views where you can see a series of switchbacks (someone pinch me—am I really here experiencing all of this?)

The wash-outs added to the fun of the day (I enjoy technical challenges):

(I must add that I loved the DR650--it performed beautifully through all of the water crossings, washouts and all types of terrain.)

One of the towns that we rode through:

Up to this point, I have forgotten to mention that there are numerous dogs in Bolivia that love to charge at, and chase, motorcycles. In every town, it seemed there was at least one dog (sometimes a lot more) that would come charging out of nowhere to nip at our boots and tires as we were rolling along. Earlier today, I was making my way gingerly through a gigantic mud puddle that was stretched across the entire road, and a small dog lunged from the bushes; I thought that it was going for my boot, but at the last minute it swerved and made a suicide leap in front of my bike. I braked quickly, splashing water all over my goggles, and heard an ear-piercing shriek of pain (not mine)—I thought, “Oh no, I think I killed it!” Then as my goggles cleared, I saw the dog emerge from the puddle and run off down the hill as fast as it could go. Whew!

Another great view:

There were many herds of animals, sometimes walking in the middle of the road. Here is a woman with her herd:

We were often at the same level as the clouds:

Me, among the clouds:

Ben was having fun too:

Some houses with the clouds rolling in:

Another breathtaking (for me) view:

In this photo, you can see our road twisting down the mountain:

Some of the local people earn money by panning for gold in this river:

Here I am, with William; it is lunchtime, and we are waiting for Maurice to return from the village below with news of whether we can buy some lunch there:

We can! Here is the restaurant/store where we had a nice lunch of rice, meat and egg:

It is always interesting to see what types of goods are available for purchase in a small village. In the store where we had lunch, there were eggs, baby diapers, sugared sodas, tomatoes, crackers, toilet paper, and some other items.

There were a few children inside the restaurant checking us out. Before lunch, I had made friends with a little two-year-old, who I had sat on my bike. After lunch, there were quite a few kids who gathered around; I showed them the different motorcycle parts and let them toot the horn. Ben did the same. I also met the mother, Yula, of the two-year-old; I was able to talk (in my limited Spanish) with her about her village, her children, and the surrounding mountains. (We did not meet many Bolivian people who spoke English.) Here I am with the wonderful group of children we met:

One crossing had a waterfall to one side; one slip and . . . . Here I am on the bike, ready to cross. William, who was the first to cross over, is telling me (in French, of which I know a handful of words leftover from high school) the best route to take through the water.

The crossing was actually quite tame, but the fact that the waterfall was right on the edge made it seem more difficult.

Another beautiful waterfall:

I just can’t keep from smiling:

During the late afternoon, the roads became steeper, with sharp hairpins and large sections of big loose rocks—definitely more challenging. We arrived in Santa Rosa in the late afternoon:

When we first arrived, and I pulled off my helmet, I soon had 8 young schoolgirls standing around my bike looking at me shyly, giggling a little, but not saying anything. I loved it! They were all dressed in their navy blue school uniforms, with plaid skirts. I sat on my bike and looked at each girl, greeting her individually and asking how she was doing. After a short time, we had to pull our bikes into the hotel courtyard, so I told the girls that I had to go. I never saw them again, but I won’t ever forget their sweet inquisitive faces.

Hotel Judith was very basic. It had a communal single bathroom, and our small room was extremely rustic but wouldn’t have been too bad if they hadn’t sprayed so much insect repellent in it that I could scarcely breathe. Ben and I had gotten our yellow fever vaccine before leaving the U.S., but there are no vaccines against malaria or dengue fever—both of which are spread by mosquitoes. We hadn’t had to worry about mosquitoes in the altiplano because those insects don’t live at such high elevations. Now that we were lower in altitude, we had to avoid getting bitten. Although I doubt that any insect could have survived all the chemicals in our hot room, we slept tonight under a mosquito net that Ben had bought for this trip.

A view of the hotel courtyard (the pool provided a pretty backdrop, but the water was an uninviting green color, so no one took a dip):

We ate outside at this table (I learned that if you sit under the florescent light, your plate becomes the landing pad for bugs—big ones--that hit the light and then do a freefall):

We had lively dogs outside our hotel door throughout much of the night. Ben swears that the dogs had tracked us down, as if we were escaped refugees, and had decided to park themselves outside our door and let the world know where we were.

<< Day 8: Potosí to Sorata | Day 10: Santa Rosa to Guanay >>

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