The ´quiet` road to La Paz
Date: 9th September – 12th September 2012
Where: Copacabana (Bolivia) – Huarina – La Paz
Distance: 4932 to 5023 miles
After seven continuous days of cycling from Cusco, Copacabana gave a chance to catch up on everyday life: watch some TV, check some email, have a coffee in a nice café and then stroll down to the highest navigable lake in the World to see the sun set all too quickly across its waters.
Leaving our luggage once again, we set sail early the next morning for the Isla del Sol, reputedly like a mediterrranean island with Inca ruins. Having a world expert on Greek islands with us, we’re proud to say it didn’t really compare and the ruins were not exactly Machu Picchu, but the quiet village of Yumani where we stayed the night made the trip worhwhile. No cars or motorbikes soiled the air, and the spectacular views from our ridgline room in both directions were heavenly.
Resting one more day in Copacabana the following day prepared us for the steep hill out of town the next day. We struggled with the gradient at such a high altitude and were glad when we reached the flat altiplano again having crossed the straits of Tiquina. Eventually we left Lake Titicaca behind us and that night we reached the town of Huarina and somehow ended up staying in someones living room sharing a hole in the ground with pigs and chickens for a toilet. We cooked lentils that night using our new pressure cooker and the result was minimal faff and delicious food. We’re glad we bought it.
Whereas yesterday we’d had the Lake as our constant companion, today it was the cloudless profile of the Cordillera Real on our left which dominated the day’s scenery. Reflecting on this difference, all seemed well as the speedo ticked onto 4999.9miles since Mexico. Then we saw the rocks covering the road as far as the eye could see stopping all traffic. As we celebrated 5000miles with a bottle of fake coca-cola (disgusting!), the miners, who were responsible for the rocks, psyched themselves up for what was to come exploding dynamite every now and then. A short way up the road and a burning tyre made us decide the best course of action was to follow the traffic on the dusty detour they’d all found. Covered head to toe in dust we made it back to the road just in time for a tornado to rear in front of us. We guessed right and escaped by a few seconds, other locals weren’t so lucky and were running in all directions. We cycled quickly along the rocky road by now flanked by countless police armed with tear gas guns. Eventually we were experiencing a normal road again. It was lucky we didn’t turn up 10minutes later or we’d have been in the crossfire. For more info from the BBC click here
On we continued, by now easily using Mt.Illimani (more than 6 Snwdns) to identify which direction la Paz was (directly below). The fields were gone, with half-finished buildings flanking each side of the road. When we reached a load of indigenous people blocking the street, we knew we must be getting close to our destination. Sure enough, we soon found the autopiste and flew down it taking in the fantastic views of La Paz below. Exhausted we eventually found the Casa de Ciclistas and hastily scoffing a Mega Burger slumped down for the night surroudned by other bike tourists and their steeds. A seemingly quiet day, eventually jam-packed with memories: the best sort of day!
From now on, internet access is going to be sporadic until Salta in Argentina, so don´t worry if you don´t hear from us for a while…we´ll still be updating our location as regularly as we can.