LE FRANÇAIS SUIT L'ANGLAIS
6th of June to July 12, 2011
1167 km cycled in the country, 7939 km for the whole trip.
740km in trucks and buses
|Full speed, right on....|
|Need a nurse?|
By the lake, you can imagine the hard work of the farmers with their herd of lamas and lambs, the soil is rich for all kind of potatoes and grains like wheat, barley and oat. The land is often covered with stacks of wheat neatly put together like a cone. In the afternoon, we’ll notice the farmers walking on stacks of potatoes to clean of the dirt and let them dry in the sun. Thanks to the Incas, here we find the greatest variety of potatoes in the world. We get to Huarani for the night and ask the local priest to accommodate us. He offers us a big dorm and a kitchen. Luckily as the nights are really cold and goes below 0 as we’ll notice in the morning when we try for the tap, all is frozen. The sun comes out quickly and warms everything up. We accept the offer of a coffee from the padre before we go on to La Paz. The road is still nice until we hit the suburbs of the capital, 20km before. We have lunch before at a village by the road (soup and milanesa). We’ll reach El Alto where we see people walking and lot’s of barricades which are stopping all circulation of cars and buses. A real nightmare of migration but all is calm and nobody takes any notice of us. We find out that the blockade is for complaining of a new law replacing all the buses of 12y old and more (good for the environment but hard on the pocketbook).
|Our first sight of La Paz!|
We left La Paz by bus to Oruro (240km in 3h30). We found a convenient hostal, went to the market and for a bite to eat. Coming back to the hostal, we ran into a big parade for the anniversary of the collegio with the students all in nice uniform, the music band, the teachers and also the ex students.
|Prudes, do not look, we're going to step out!|
Our 3rd day brought us gravel road and wind, not a nice combination. So after 50km, I don’t want to ride no more and we ask for hospitality at Tombo Tambillo. We run into one family but the mother is very shy or maybe speaks very little castillano and we find very little help with the children so we pitched the tent in front of the church, hoping that someone from the village has the key. We get warm in the tent, cook our diner and play cards. I hear a truck parking higher up and decides to ask the driver if he has the key to the church or could suggest us where to get protection from the wind. He shows us an empty room by a house with a crying baby so we decide to stay where we are. We’ll get a good night sleep after all.
|Come and join us!...God|
We continue on to Salinas de Garcia Mendoza, with a sandy road at times, rocks and a nice scenery of a volcano and mountains. The atmosphere of the Capital of the region is casual and friendly. We find the market and run into a couple from France riding a tandem. They just did the Salar from south to north and are waiting to take a bus to Oruro. They gave us a few tips and jumped on the bus. They are going around the world and after reaching Lima, the next stop is Canada where they are going to cycle from Calgary to Vancouver!
We get direction for a nice hostal made of stones and cactus wood, just beautiful. The owner is running the place and offers us a meal of lama steak in their beautiful dining room with tables fill with salt or rocks under glass as decoration . We’re having a good time with Ronaldo, 5 years old, a ball of energy.
|Left or Right? Winter or summer?|
|My new boyfriend!|
|What a free show!!|
A nice breakfast waits for us in the sun and time to say good-bye to our new friends, we’re off to spend another few hours on the Salar. This time, we have tracks to follow made by the numerous jeeps bringing tourists every day which makes the salt smoother and makes the ride faster! Getting closer to Colchani, we stop at the museum/salt hotel (1st salt hotel built on the island, 10y ago) . Getting even closer, we ride among the salt pyramids and water. There’s a time where the locals made their money from picking salt but today, the area is turned towards tourism with tours and salt hotels. Another 4km, we’re at the centre and we check into a modest salt hotel where the owners have also a small artesania store and salt packing business. We decide to cook our own diner as nothing looked appetizing in town.
After breakfast, we decide to clean our bikes as the salt could be quite damaging to the motor! We ride 20km to Uyuni, a pleasant ride between gravel and dunes. The town is a hoping one with gringo
restaurants, a busy market and tours! We tried to fetch a bus for Potosi that afternoon with no luck.
|To the Pachamama (Mother Earth)!|
Next day, it’s the bus for Potosi (200km in 5h!)…after 1h, the bus stops, there seems to be a problem with the transmission…people are patient, no communication, we just have to wait…people start to talk about going back to Uyuni, there’s no other bus that can replace it….suddenly, the bus restarts and we’re gone again…Bravo, Mr driver…Potosi, big city with Cerro rico in the background (famous silver and zinc mines). It takes us more than 2h to find a decent hostal with heating and breakfast included for 100 bolivianos ($14). For diner, we went for upper class restaurant and had a nice lama steak with a sauce aux fines herbs.
The next day, the museum de la moneda is a must as Potosi was a major printing centre for all the Spanish empire in the 17th century. The town was as or more populated than Paris or NY in the same era.
|Without miners, there's no Potosi!|
Quite a bit of activities on the Cerro with families having small cabins, washing clothes and kids playing around among dirt and garbage! There’s more than 500 mines being exploited cooperatively and we’re wondering if one day, the whole mountain could collapse.
Tonight, is movie night. We’re going to see « The little red riding hood » at the local cinema in Spanish! Instead of being in 35mm, it was a video on a big screen! But they did have popcorn!
Today, we’re riding to Sucre. It will take us 2 days (150km). We’ll spent the night in Millares, we got there in time to watch a soccer game between Peru and Argentina at the local restaurant. It’s a busy place as the buses stops there for diner. Millares to Sucre is fill with ups and downs so we’re happy to finally enter the white city and on the main drag, we run into some cyclists from Europe who takes us to their hostal but the place seems to noisy for us. We decide to go for a smaller hostal Wasi-Masi with a nice ambiance and rooms with a Japanese touch. Paolo (Italy) and Pinar (Turkey) will join us on the 4th night.
|Where is the real one?|
The 1st of July, we left Sucre for Tarabuco. Paolo and Pinar will join us at lunch at Yamparaez as they needed to go by the hospital for a vaccination. We’re going to ride together for a few days until Padilla where they’ll go north (Vallegrande, Cochabamba) towards Peru and we’ll head east then south to reach Boyuibe where we would like to ride the train until the border. The weather is perfect for riding, not too hot and it’s nice to have company. Close to Tarabuco, we encountered campesinos who are busy with the separation of the wheat. It’s a few days work as it’s only for their consumption. They use a wood fork to levitate the wheat in the air and it’s separates before reaching the ground. The woman uses brooms to make 2 stacks, one of the grains and one of the straw. We gave them a hand, took pictures and decided to stay around for the night. We asked a few houses down if we could pitch our tents on their property. We’re welcome and the mother comes back a few minutes later with a bowl of hot potatoes soup! We’re going to cook in their courtyard so that we can chat with the family (running water but no electricity).
|No machinery here!!!|
The market is slowly coming alive with agricultural stands showing their different plants and vegetables, campesinos kitchen serving typical dishes like vegetarian stews with potatoes, beans and garlic, quinoa served with cheese, soya drinks…a real feast. On the other side, campesinos are showing the art of weaving. Their weaving frame is made of 2 pieces of wood joined together and the wool is set down with a horn. The designs are very intricate and it takes months to make one piece. Every piece is unique and tells a story. We bought one from a stand and met the young weaver of 13 years old who lives at a nearby village. Artesania has been revived for the last 10 years in this area with the help of a local organisation.
|Gastronomy fair in Tarabuco|
After a warm and long breakfast, we’re ready to hit the road. After 30km in 3h, we get to Tomina for a late lunch in the church park. We make a run at the market, go for coffee and find a nice hostal «Buena vista» with a nice courtyard and cheap as well…too tempting. We start with a beer, relax with the cat and a book and take a nice hot shower. We’ll cook diner and chat with the owners, 2 brothers who lives in Sucre and Santa Cruz. The hotel is a family inheritance and I think it might have been the family house at one point. They also own a farm and produce milk and cheese. It’s a peaceful place.
|My new friend!|
Thi-yumayu is a small community by a river and the ride will take us through tropical forest with ups and downs on gravel road. We’ll have lunch in another small community of 30 families by a river (maybe the same one) and will continue until reaching Monteagudo after 6h on the bike. It’s the capital of the region and you can feel the town is changing fast. It will as soon as the road will get paved. We’ll stay one full day as I feel a bit tired. Great, as TV Peru is having all day long, a live show from Machu Pichu for the 100th anniversary of the discovery by Hiram Bingham. From Monteagudo, we’ll hit Muyupampa after 50km. We’re debating about looking for a hostal or use our tent when we get an invitation from a boliviano living in Dallas to follow him to his father’s house. We can use the tent and we got to cook a nice pasta diner for a change!! Jay is visiting his father after 7 years and will travel together to Sucre to spend time with his sister. What a nice encounter!
So after a nice massage by Yves, we have diner at the hotel’s restaurant. We chose a picante (a mixed grill) and a nice salad. The town is having it’s anniversary too so many hotels are full and the center is hoping with a live band and a fair. So let’s get dancing.
The ride will take us to Boyuibe where we hope to catch the train to the border. Well, no luck, the train only leaves on Thursday and we’re Sunday night…even so it sounds like it’s a slow train, so forget it!
We spend the night at the Catholic quarter with Padre Apolinar. He offers us to spend the next day with his family, one hour away at the family farm and to take us to Vallemontes. We’re up at 6am and once at the farm, we get to have a nice country breakfast. Padre takes us on a tour of the propriety, land with citrus trees and we can taste them on the way. We have a chat with the mother, abuelita of 80! His sister is preparing lunch, peanut and vegetable soup followed by meat and yucca. We have a nap, read a book and …relax, coffee. Then time to leave for Vallemontes. Thanks to the family & Padre for an awesome day!
Vallemontes is rich from oil and now gas. We feel the Argentinean flair, people drink maté and BBQ meat is offered at every corner. We have breakfast at the local market and hope to get a lift to the border. 15mn later, a nice gentleman working in the oil business will take us in his pick up! Uyuibe is the last town in Bolivia for us. We have a quick lunch, finish our vegetables as we can’t pass the border with them. Argentinean police are strict and ask us to pass our bags through the x-ray machine! It’s a first! Nothing to declare, not even coca leaves! We’re now in Argentina, incredible…after 9 months and over 8000km!! We can’t wait to eat a good steak with an Argentinean wine and to dance tango at the same time!
|What we saw in Bolivia is only a shadow of what really exist there!|
Du 6 juin au 12 juillet 2011
1167 km parcourus sur nos bicyclettes et 7939 km pour l’ensemble du voyage (9 mois).
740 km en camions ou autobus
|Frontière de Copacabana|
|Vue sur le lac Titicaca et la Cordillera orientale|
|Publicité pro environnementale|
|Cristian, notre hôte à La Paz|
|Vente de feuilles de coca à Oruro|
|Bergère avec son lama nouveau né|
|Cratère de météorite|
Nous quittons tôt le matin. Le temps est radieux. 10km de route et nous voilà au petit village dont nous parlait la femme hier. Sur notre carte, on nous indique qu’il y a ici un cratère de météorite et non un village. Mais en réalité il y a bel et bien un village avec hébergement. Le cratère est impressionnant. Les cratères que j’ai vu furent toujours occupés par de la végétation. Ici, dans cet espace lunaire, on voit bien la forme du météorite qui a frappé la terre. Un impact qui a laissé une forme parfaitement ronde qui doit faire environ un km de largeur. Nous continuons notre route. Un vent de face et le ripio ralentissent passablement notre rythme. En 4 h 15 sur nos montures nous arrivons à franchir les 47 km et nous voilà au village de Salinas Garcia Mendoza. Nous y trouvons une jolie auberge construite de pierres et de bois de cactus géant. La proprio nous prépare un souper avec du steak de lama. Elle me permet de cuisiner avec elle, ce qui me fait grand plaisir. Katja trouve un ami et joue aux cartes avec le petit de la maison.
|Route pas toujours facile...|
|Enfin sur le Salar!!!|
|Paysage spectaculaire du Salar inondé|
|Fête et danse avec les Aymaras pour le Nouvel an andin|
|Coucher du soleil de ce 21 juin|
|On a une route!|
|Collecte de sel sur le Salar|
Au matin, nous prenons le bus vers Potosi. Une heure après notre départ, en pleine ascension sur cette route de terre cahoteuse, le bus tombe en panne. Il semble que la transmission n’obéit plus...il faut dire qu’avec une telle route, aucune transmission ne peut tenir longtemps. Nous resterons environ une heure à observer le vent qui soulève la poussière et qui ébranle l’autobus immobile. Personne ne nous parle...pas d’information, c’est comme ça ici. Les gens montre cependant peu d’impatience. Et puis, soudain, le chauffeur redémarre l’engin et voilà que le bus s’ébranle et voilà qu’on avance. De la magie? Peut-être...en tous cas, il semble bien que le chauffeur ait réussi à régler le problème tout seul. Katja crie: GRACIAS CHOFFER!...la galerie éclate de rire et nous voilà en route vers Potosi! Quelques heures plus tard et seulement 200km plus loin, nous y voilà. La journée est déjà bien avancée. On se cherche un gîte. Étrangement, partout où on demande, c’est soit complet ou trop cher. Katja me fera même le coup de «je ne bouge plus»! Fatigué, nous finissons par trouver un hospedaje sympathique et pas trop cher...avec chauffage svp! Quel bonheur!
|Musée de la monnaie de Potosi|
|Sucre, ville coloniale|
|Petit déjeuné avec nos amis Paolo et Pinar|
|Séparation du blé de la paille|
Comme toujours, on nous invite avec joie. Paolo a la généreuse idée d’offrir un sac de feuilles de coca au chef de la famille. Plus tard, sans doute en guise de reconnaissance, on nous offrira un plat de pomme de terre. Nous cuisinerons dans la cour intérieure de la ferme et prendrons le temps de discuter avec la famille. Mais en sortant, on apercevra une femme qui porte un bandeau sur la mâchoire. Elle a mal aux dents...de toute évidence, il y a infection. Elle a un côté du visage bien enflé. On nous dit qu’elle ira au village le lendemain. Lorsque nous quittons la ferme, après le petit déjeuner, elle n’a toujours pas quitté la maison. Arrivé à Tarabuco (4 km plus loin), nous apercevons un camion/cabinet-de-dentiste. Nous exposerons le cas de cette jeune femme. Les dentistes, qui offrent un service gratuit pour les cas d’urgences et pour les enfants, nous dirons que les paysans ont souvent peur de la médecine moderne et préfèrent souvent laisser passer la maladie plutôt que de consulter. Les conséquences sont souvent graves nous disent-ils, mais il semble bien que la force des superstitions soit plus forte que la douleur! Nous avons indiqué aux dentistes ambulants où se trouve la ferme..on ne sait pas s’ils s’y sont rendus...
|Artisan qui nous a vendu|
|Encore un autre de ses amis!|
|Retour à la chaleur! Youpi!|
|J'aime la chaleur mais pas les brûlots!!|
|Famille Barja à Muyupampa|
|Route de sable...pas pédalable!|
|bisous, bisous !!!|
|Une autre étape de franchie...|