La Paz, Bolivia (15,928 kilometers – 9,897 miles)
What a lot of you don’t know and/or care about is “The Road to Titicaca” is not just my completely uncreative caption for this passage, but a book title. Moreover, it is the book title that started the groin tingle and the interest in this sojourn. I was thinking about copying a small exert from said book and pasting it here for you all, but let’s be honest…all you do is look at pictures and yearn for more useless dog shots. Speaking of dogs, our condolences to Erick Ortiz and family for the passing of their schnauzer pooch (see below). He was a good lad and looked dashing in a sweater.
Ok, now that formalities have been taken care of, we can begin. The Conbigotes Bearded Water Purification Analysis Team is currently residing in the shitty, but super comfy Casa de Ciclistas in La Paz, Bolivia. Christ, what a city. I will make a strong non-physical argument that this is my favorite of South American Capitals. We arrived last Wednesday and if you chill out a little, I’m about to tell you how.
I believe the last time we formally checked in was moments before our 44-hour bus tour from Mancora to Cusco, Peru. Holy crap was that ever an unfortunate experience. We were lodged in there like the feet of a heavy girl in strappy heels. At one point, I looked back and Ryan had almost inverted himself in the foot space to attempt comfort or possibly avoid the poop smell coming from the lav. Whatever, we got to Cusco and did nothing for a few days. I bought a new headband and Ryan got to watch the Patriots and Giants games in succession. All good fun.
Having successfully cut off about ¾ of Peru and saved ourselves potentially 2 months of cycling, we set off from Cusco to the Bolivian border where things would be colder, cheaper and most likely less attractive women. (Jesus, I shouldn’t say that, I looked in the mirror today and I’m disgusting). Soon out of the gates we bumped into a German couple, Dagmar and Mete respectively, along with a Peruvian dude who calls himself Kae (which everyone knows is short for Carlos). This became the first group of cyclists, other than “Kevin the Prick” and “Danno” Zlotsky to put up with our shit for consecutive days. The Krouts have been impressively plodding along from Alaska and Kae, along with his arsenal of musical instruments, departed from Lima. We took our goddamn time breathing heavily through the Peruvian high elevation portion of the Altiplano. That being said, the few 4,200 meter plus passes didn’t trump the beauty of this area. You know those places when you get you camera out like a moron, look in the viewfinder and end up saying, screw it? A picture absolutely ruins what is really out here. Maybe I should just get a better camera. I don’t have all the answers you know.
The high skies of the afternoons continuously gave way to freezing rain and hail in the early evenings. We have taken shelter in some sizeable road towns like Sicuani, Ayaviri and Juliaca. The latter of which is an absolute shithole. A day later we got our first glimpses of Lake Titicaca. Hold the jokes and snickers please, children. Damnit, I also just read today what “Titicaca” means while I was in the waiting room for my brand new $13 prescription glasses. Two more days traversing the shore and we pounded our way past the Bolivian border into Copacabana after only minimal visa related arguments with drunk border workers. We parted ways with Dagmar and Mete as they relaxed for a couple of days. Kae, Ryan and I trolled on towards La Paz for some cheap beer and accomodation. Things soon got interesting.
We bumped into our new buddy “Swiss” (real name Julean) just before plunging into the bowl of over 2 million people shrouded by 6,000 meter giant mountain peaks. Soon after taking way too long to locate the Casa de Ciclistas nesting whom, we were greeted by the tomfoolery of a couple of British gents who go by James and Andy, aka James and Dad. They met each other on the internet while searching for riding partners and soon embarked on a journey of cycling and love. I’m joking about the love part, but some of the noises that came out of their room would have you believe otherwise. No bull-shitting here, but I would have paid what little money I have to ride with these gentleman. After 3 days at the Casa, we had all but convinced James to cancel his flight back to Manchester and join the Conbigotes squad. Some day soon old chap (like you are reading this).
That puts us just about up to date. In other news, I attempted the 6088 meter bitch of a mountain, Huayna Potosi for a second time in 4 years and lost a ferocious battle. Not really, I think I’m just a big pussy. Nonetheless, a full account on the climb will be coming soon. Ryan, Swiss and Kae chanced the “Death Road” and won on their way to Coroico for a few days.
So here I sit, with dirty feet, shitty coffee and mouth packed with coca leaves. I’m staring at 7 touring bikes rested and ready for action. I don’t know however, when that will be because as previously stated, I kinda like it here. Once we do leave our new/old friends, Chile is only 7 days away. That’s right, Chile! Unofficially officially, the last full country of this quest. Anyone have any ideas of what to do next?