Friday, October 8, 2010

40. Entering the land of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Bolivia (02/13/08)

Dscf2307 Bolivia was beautiful around Lake Titicaca which had a very dark blue color and was surrounded by snow capped mountains. As I started to make my way toward La Paz I stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. I was thrilled to see that the price of gas was only half of Peru, but because I heard that the octane of Bolivian gas was only around 70 I decided to bring as much Peruvian 90 octane with me as I could get. In Puno, Peru the gas station guy gave me two 1.25 gallon clean plastic oil jugs that I used to fill up and strap to the top of my panniers. Now I have found out that Bolivian gas has 87 octane so I am not too worried about it being hard on the engine.

Dscf2312 Driving into La Paz was quite the challenge. The Pan American ended abruptly at a construction site where they were building a new bridge over a small river. It was getting dark fast and there did not seem to be any marked detour so I went to watch what the other cars were doing. I followed a bus through a dirt bike style track that had all kinds of different obstacles to get through (rocks, lose dirt, wet grass, and to top it off the river you had to drive through which was about 2.5 ft deep!). How could they not have a temporary wooden bridge for this river I thought. The water was deep enough that cars could not cross!

After getting my legs soaked I was very cold at nearly 4000 m so I decided to look for a motel. I searched for about an hour not finding any until I stopped and asked a guy what the deal was. In Bolivia they use a different word for motel/hotel. They call it ¨alojamente.¨ I scouted out a few motels and came to the conclusion that almost all the motels in La Paz are dingy. The bathrooms in all of them were atrocious and non usable. The bed did not look the cleanest but it was a bed and I throughly enjoyed not sleeping on the ground.   

In La Paz I saw some very strangely dressed contruction workers. Bolivia seems to be the Latin American country that has maintained the most of its indigenous culture. I also saw the famous shoe shine guys in La Paz who are dressed like bank robbers. It was kind of scary to walk by a row of them. They wear disguises because they are embarrassed about their profession and do not want their friends to know what they do. The guy in the photo was trying very hard to sell me a shoeshine so I took my camera out and took his picture which did not make him very happy.

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