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.

A wide range of potatoes and other root veg for sale in Copacabana

Geoff making friends with yet another dog while waiting for the boat to the Isla del Sol

Glad we weren’t in this row-boat, which was being tossed all over the place

An Incan tea-party set-up – no teddy bears noted

Sarah in some of the Inca ruins

The view from our £5 room for the night: The Cordillera Real at sunset and sunrise

Inca impersonators guard the Inca stairs

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.

On the road from Copacabana to La Paz. This road booty was unfortunately too heavy to take with us

Random dancing Bolivians shooting a music video.

Heading out on the Tiquina peninsula across Lake Titicaca

Ready for the off at the Straits of Tiquina. The boat had the rigidity of a festival tent in a gale, but seemed to work

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

Last view of the lake in the morning light

New view for the day: the Cordillera Real

A landmark: 5000miles of pealling, by now we’re over halfway 🙂

Meeting the miners who wanted something or other

Spot the Geoff (again), as we bypass the burning tyre

Tornado nearly takes away the Policeman, then us, then the locals

Helping clear the road of the rocks to ensure the Police didn’t shoot us with tear gas

Police continue to swarm towards the scene as we make good our getaway

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.

Mt Illimani lights the way into La Paz

Indigenous protest blocking the road through El Alto. Protests seem like a pretty common thing in Bolivia!

Above the jaw-dropping situation of La Paz, the World’s highest capital City

Riding through busy city-centre traffic to the Casa

5 responses to “The ´quiet` road to La Paz”

  1. catherp says :

    Hi, I stumbled on your blog when you were wayyyy back in Punta Allen, Mexico. I have a Google alert set for “punta allen” and your blog came up and I’ve enjoyed following your exciting trip since!

    I love your photos and commentary. What an adventure!

    I’m from Minnesota, currently in Perth Australia until December and we’re building a casita in Punta Allen. I like to see who’s mentioning PA on the Internet–and it’s not too many!

    Safe travels.

    Catherine Pringle

  2. david says :

    Good to see that the rocks still aren’t a hastle. I’m a little envious. Though i’m in mendoza and following the bici wine trail. Heading back to santiago to see marnee for 3 days then off towards coihaique. Buena suerte David

    • Geoff says :

      Hey Dave,
      Say hi to Marnee for us. Take care round Mendoza, lots of stories of bike robberies. We leave for Bolivia proper tomorrow, we´ve been spoilt in La Paz waiting for poo tests for my stomach bug. Happy cycling!
      Geoff

  3. Martin says :

    Getting a bit tasty, eh? Take care, Martin and Phyllis

    • Geoff says :

      Hey both, the Bolivian food is certainly more tasty thus far! I´m on nprotein shakes too now to try and get some meat back on my bones 🙂 Yesterday the road was blocked due to all the local children having their sports day (remember this is the main road in Bolivia! Genius idea, we should close the M6 now!). Thanks for the supportive comments, we appreciate them,
      Geoff

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