Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cochabamba to La Paz - A shock to the legs!

Never mind the fact we´ve cycled 6,000 kms already, after 3 weeks of monkeying around our legs were just not prepared for the next few days.

Cochabamba itself sits at a lofty 2,500m but to get to La Paz the road engineers decided it would be fun to test the nations vehicles by sending them along a road that winds around countless canyons and over ridiculous passes.

The signs showing the way are correct when they point up.
On the way up we had to camp in some trees clinging to the side of a near verticle canyon. Luckily just enough room for the tent though we did wake up in a heap in the bottom corner of it.

It took us 2 and a half days to reach the first summit at just over 4,100m. The contours on our maps don´t show much detail and so we assumed (hoped) that it wouldn´t get much higher.

Down the other side we found a small town where a woman gave us the privelage of sleeping in her potato shed for the night. Nothing but the best for Gem on her honeymoon.

Tent in the back room of the spud shed.

Outside the shed was a broken down bus. Four men, black from head to toe with oil, were trying their best to fix it. We asked them what the road was like from here and it sounded bad. Up, down, up, down, up, down, forever going higher until it´s impossible to breath. They offered us a lift in the bus once the spare part arrived from the nearest city.

Gem sat outside the spud shed to the right.

In the morning the men were still hard at work and the part had not arrived. By lunch time the part still hadn´t arrived and so we decided to leave. Uphill of course.

The next pass got to 4,300m. We slept at an art centre (out here?). The old man at the centre told us that the next morning´s pass was the last pass. It took us to 4,500m and we were wondering how on earth just 3 weeks rest could hurt so much! Fortunately Gemma´s bite wound hadn´t reopened but it was hurting. On the way up we saw our bus again - broken down on the side of the road - again. It had also been abandoned, no people anywhere near it.

Spare part was obviously not all it needed.

Going down the other side was great fun of course. We were also amazed to find a short cut that on our maps was unpaved, had recently been paved and so we could arrive at our next city two hours earlier than expected!

Views across the canyons going down.

Oruro isn´t a great place for toursits. There´s not really much to see or do unless you like mines. We stayed long enough to buy valuable food goods and then set off over the flatish altiplano for La Paz. The next 3 days were rather dull and uninteresting.

It seems crazy to say it but after 5 days of moaning about the hills and mountains and steep roads, when we get to the flat bits we so crave, they´re boring.

Anyhoo, before arriving in La Paz it is impossible to avoid going through the horrible El Alto, which is the part of the city that spills out over the canyons upper edges. La Paz itself sits 500m below in the canyon and is not visible until you reach the very edge. It is a truly magnificent sight and the views across to the Royal Mountains are spectacular.

El Alto just in front, mountains behind.

It makes you feel a bit dizzy.

Like cycling a real life computer game, hit a rock and you lose a tooth. Loose more than three teeth and it´s game over.

Now in La Paz, we intend to have some fun. There are countless things to do here and we are most excited about the wrestling. It´s not any wrestling though, it´s old women in traditional dress followed by midgets in Disney costumes. Finally Bolivia got something right.

Obviously we´ll be putting plenty of those photos on here soon.

Until then, can somebody let us know if they are still reading this thing?

Love to all xxx

Gem and Ian.


Anonymous said...

Of course we are still reading, it's gripping!! Enjoy the wrestling - Ian you could enter if you can get hold of a kind of Disney/ monkey costume, (there must be one surely). love to you both, xxxx

Lucky mum said...

I'm glued to it, Don't stop writing or adding pics. Absolutely love it. Don't join the wrestling Ian you know I made you perfect and then you took over and look at what's happened. Bucket loads of love to both of yoy x-x-x-x

Globalmum said...

I'm sure there are hundreds of people hanging on your every word (and photo).
It's the most wonderful way for us all to feel part of your adventures - we all LOVE IT!!!!
Big hugs, Mum (2) xxx

Aunty Jill said...

of course we are still reading, this is better than Corro - well almost!!
I worry about you both tho'. What with Gemma's leg and your Donkey hoof imprint! Looking forward to seeing you both soon, look after each other, and I'll look after yer Mam!! (somebody has to)
Luv 'n' stuff, Aunty Jill x-x-x

nicko's said...

Dad and Nicki says that u both have had us in stitches with your crazy antics! and no ian the spud shed was not ronantic at all! try a choc or cake shop 4 gem.