01.01.17 Tiwunaku, Bolivia to Oruro, Bolivia
A good start for a Happy New Year.
Yesterday evening we had enjoyed a walk wound Tiwunaku, it is an interesting place, and the sacred heart of the Bolivian lands for worshipping their God, and the sun.
It was a calm and peaceful place, set out well to fully appreciate all the arqueological sites, and monoliths nestled under the stunning hillside.
This morning was a little chilly as we set off toward La Paz. We had decided not to actually visit La Paz, although it sounds fabulous, when the Desmo’s visited in their sidecar they made the riding sound a bit challenging, plus it is hugely polluted, so best to keep Paul’s lungs away from that for a while.
So we took a route that skirted La Paz, with a short cut down ‘streets’ of mud and stones, whilst being chased by big dogs with very big teeth! Never mind, my navigational skills got us through the rabbit warren of mud streets to a main road, that brought us out onto the road we wanted road 1.
This road continued through the busy outskirts of La Paz, as a dual carriageway- or was it? Perhaps it was a market, or a bus station, or a rubbish dump, a grazing area for sheep, or a playground for stray dogs? That was certainly an experience, added to the fact that red lights on traffic lights only seem to be a suggestion here, if there’s no-one coming, (or sometimes even when there is), you just go through the light. A slightly difficult concept for us to grasp.
Once we had passed all these obstacles, we decided to try and get petrol. We’d heard a lot of tales about foreigners being refused petrol, or charged extortionate amounts to buy petrol, in Bolivia. The first petrol station we stopped at, could not serve us, as they were unable to do an invoice for us. However, they suggested the next station would serve us. He was correct, when we arrived there, Paul asked if we could have fuel, and was told ‘Siiiiiiiii’.
We waited in line patiently for our turn, whilst the guy was serving one customer from each side of the pump. Our turn came, and Paul asked what octane the fuel was, to be told that the attendant didn’t know, it was just fuel. At home, the lowest grade of fuel we can buy is 95, and we can normally manage to get this, however in Peru much of the fuel was only 84 octane. We’ve managed to avoid using this so far, because it just would not be right for our bike. So we crossed our fingers and the attendant filled us all up. The price on the pump was 58 Bolivianos (about 9 british pounds), but we were charged 128 Bolivianos (about 20 british pounds), however, we have fuel, and both spare fuel canisters are full, so we’re happy. We believe that the Bolivian government subsidise fuel costs for the locals, which is why we are charged more.
The rest of the ride went smoothly, with just a short ride through a thunderstorm, which turned briefly to hailstones, which were large, and quite painful when they hit us.
Last night we had no internet connection, so weren’t able to see if our booking for the hotel had been confirmed. We also did not have an exact address, but figured, no problem, we’ll ride into Oruro and follow our noses. Well, follow our noses turned out to be right! The heavens opened, the rains ran straight down from the surrounding hills into the town so quickly and abundantly that the drains could not cope, we were riding through rivers, which a couple of times turned into sewage! We couldn’t find the hotel we may or may not have booked, so used our offline maps on the phone to guide our way, eventually to a hotel, with a garage. It’s very basic, but it’ll do, the man thing is the bike is tucked away safely.
Within half an hour of arriving like drowned rats, the sun came out, so we were able to go out, withdraw much needed money at the cash machine (we couldn’t change money at the border yesterday), have a bit of dinner and have a look around the town. As it is New Year’s Day, many of the town’s residents were out enjoying the town square.