Picque Macho OR Machu Picchu ???
I know which I'd rather have.....can you guess....
one of them is so cheap and they other not so much. After one of them you feel full and the other your wallet is empty....
After leaving La Paz we stopped in Copacabana and camped in the beach. Henning stayed in the most expensive hotel in town as always. He actually found us for the fist time ever. Normally we stalk Henning not the other way around. The beach was littered with backpackers and overlanders and we ate Trout from Lake Titicaca from a beach front cafe. We watched the sun go down. Nothing compaired to Lake Malawi Sunsets as I'm sure you will agree. (to look at the posts and photos for Malawi use the tick box at the right).
We did manage to use the loo in Hennings Hotel on two occasions though ! Nothing strange there....
The rip off for us was the little lake crossing on the barge. Henning paid nothing and we paid £7. It was 100meters...
In the morning we went through the border. Customs wanted us to pay tax on the fuel we didn't buy in Bolivia....Sounds like Syria. We actually got it in Brazil. We slept in a fuel station and filled up without the hassle and bribes like Bolivia.
We met Henning again in Puna and nearly ran him over. We found a cafe and parked right outside the place. A few mins in to eating a guy went behind the car and then came back out. Peering into the cafe he must have decided we weren't inside but we were. He went behind the car again so I went out. He saw me and according to a young girl who told me in English. "He'd tried to open the car". He moved off down the road. I did not chase after as there was little point. There were lots of people around and what could I have done.
We decided to go to the gorge at Chivay and allegedly its deeper then the Grand Canyon. It was too expensive. They charge a lot for something that looking at Google Images isn't that great. We backtracked and slept at 4600meters. Not a good idea unless you're an astronaut. The car didn't wat to start in the morning due to freezing temperatures and little oxygen. After 20-30 seconds of cranking and 3 attempts Matilda came to life. Phew....
One more tip about altitude is when your boiling an egg....make sure its well boiled. We've both had it bad.....enough said. I needed Antibiotics and Gatoaid. I had a fever and was a bit unwell...Not good when your using a not so good squat toilet and sleeping in a Land Rover. We're camping in the Truck park come garage used by the Overland "Bus" Companies. They like to be called Overland Trucks but they're just not....Its a bus with seat and people. Trucks carry fruit and stuff not tourists....Well mostly.....unless you're in Africa.
We should go to the thing in Peru tomorrow or the day after....how we get there is yet to be decided. Henning is on his way. We think he's been stopped for no insurance ! Naughtly Boy !
We managed to get round the bridge.....via the dam wall road. Looks like the guy that opens the sluce gate opened it a bit too much and washed away the bridge. I bet he got a bollocking....
We've been in Oberland too long and should be leaving tomorrow.
We've finally been caught up by Henning and we've had a meal and a drink. He's been filling us in on his adventures in both Africa and South America. He's having the time of his life same as us. He's not met many travellers so it must be a lonely ride for him.
He does have the same opinion as us and thats Africa is so much better than South Amercia so far. Bolivia is lovely but it doesn't make up for the boring Ruta 3 in Argentina and many other crappy things like the two hour border crossings here. In Africa you're unlucky if you spend 15 mins at a border. Africa and South Amercia do drive us mad on a few counts but this is the reason for travelling. We do little else but try to sort stuff out and this is the problem. In both continents its hard to get anything done, or at least done properly. Somethings are way easier to get done than at home, like a bit of weding and other things are almost impossible. Henning spent an hour in the queue at the phone shop to register his sim-card yesterday. This can only be done at the head office in La Paz so its lucky we went in specially to do it ! So many countries are going for compulsary registration on Sim-Cards now and we can thank the security services for that.
La Paz is an amazing place and quite spectacular and after 3 weeks here we know our way round quite well. We know where to get car parts and where's good to eat. We like it here and as I've said we like Bolivia. We could get used to the queues probably and we could certainly get used to the cheap lunch-time offers. You cannot complain at a 3 course lunch for two quid (~$3usd).
On sunday we went to El-Alto to the Sunday market and its HUGE. You can buy anything from a car to a teapot. They sell anything and its a maze of roads lined with stalls. You can even buy a Dog, Cat, Chicken, Duck or Tropical Fish ! Julie got a hat and I got a few emergency repair bits for the car. I finally got a grommit for the hole under the centre cubby box and after looking for ages in nearly all hardware stores in all countries we've visited. They never sold them big enough but here the Chinese have sent us everything they make. Some of it is even good quality.
The camp is pretty busy and we've seen people come and go. We've met Swiss, American, French, Danish (yes theres even some more Danish here on top of Henning), Kiwis, Germans and Dutch. One thing is true the Europeans like to travel. The Kiwi's got us some parts and arrive the other day in their Chilian registered Dodge Durango. We met them in Sucre at the Overland camp three weeks ago. Thanks to them we now have some more lock washers so my wheels don't fall off ! This is something the guys in the other Land Rover (with the pop roof) will know all about. There wheel bearings were very loose as they'd not checked them since buying the car ! All was OK though after a couple of hours and the use of the large socket Mike gave me. Three of their hubs were TD5 and one was like mine.... arn't Land Rovers great !
Named after the film America Visa....
Although,,,, we should be picking ours up tomorrow.
The film is about a Bolivian National who applies for a US Visa......strange coincidence ?
My mother will be pleased to know they didn't even want to see the scans (she spent ages doing) of our old passports. I asked him and nearly pleeded with him to take a look but he didn't want to see them. He did however acknowledge your efforts Mum. So Thanks you now have official recognition from the US governement for your skills in I.T. and administration.
Took about 1hr 30mins toget in an out. So all in, 5 days to get it. We will get a B1/B2 visa we think which means I can use it for business meetings if I ever need to go there for an employer.
Matilda has new shock bushes front and rear and apart from the fact they are Toyota bushes she's happy. She also has new shocks on the rear. I thought it about time to remove the odd shocks that have been on for 40,000km !
We are now looking for conveyor belt to make some mud flaps. The front has split and those of you who know Land Rovers will think this strange. The rears normally fall off first. We my rear is held together by Aluminium so has been OK for the entire journey. The fronts are probably as old as the car. The braket is a royal pain to remove....! Dremel in use again. Thankfully is 220 volt here.
Our friends have come through with the parts. They will be here Saturday. I still need drive flanges but they can wait till Ecuador as they are only for the spares box. I can now lock the wheel hubs with new washers next time they come loose.
Oh how I hated this series but only after it ended. I wasted so much of my life watching it....the worse ending of all time.
Anyhow, our receipt number for the $160usd each isn't being accepted by the system CSC so helpfully created. So we cannot book our appointment ! As is the way of things like this we are now in the support queue....
We are sat here doing nothing waiting. I'm not starting on replacing the shocks until we know what day and time our interview is. If they ever sort out the payments that is. Its going from bad to worse.
The USA visa system also requires a passport photo like no other. It must be 5cm square unlike every other passport photo that are normally rectangular. So if you plan on applying make sure you have a nice 600x600 photo of your head and shoulders. They have a picture checking application on the site that's about the only thing that's good on there. When you decide to apply you may also come up against the same brain fuddling conundrum we have. We filled out paperwork for a B2 Tourist Visa and on the payment site this is listed as a B2 Medical Visa. I hope this is just a minor issue as I'm not planing on going to hospital in the USA as our travel insurance has just run out. This we cannot re-new as you have to be in the UK to do so.
The campsite at Oberland Hotel in La Paz is empty almost but full of a German Overland bus that's just plonked itself in the middle of the camp in the worse place possible. The only thing its good for is shade as its damn hot here and we are still high up so the sun is very strong. We have the awning out and the South African Engineered Solar Panel. Installed and fitted by Kobus/Bird Engineering. We had a flat leisure battery yesterday for some as of yet unexplained reason. I hope the battery itself isn't failing.
Today we went to pay for our USA B2 visa.....$160usd each. The process is long and made even worse by the "IT" systems in place. There are two systems to log on to and complete various "hoops" to apply for the visa. The fee is not refundable and you have to convince them you are not going to stay in the USA at and interview. Years ago I might have wanted to live there but not any more. There are much better places to live. However the UK isn't one of them, but its home and our journey would not be complete without going full circle.
We are enjoying Bolivia but La Paz is now getting old. The food is cheap and the wine is OK so we can put up with it until we can leave. This is either when the visa's come (if) or when the parts come from Santa Cruz. That's if our friends the Kiwi's at http://www.kiwi-panamericana.com/ come through with their parts hunting on our behalf.
I've almost decided to change the front and rear shocks and this means some welding to lower the front turrets. The shocks are a reasonable price here and they have them in stock. This will get rid of the odd shocks on the back and get rid of the crap shocks on the front. The Terrafirma Big Bore that caused us so much trouble in Africa are still on the front. We're not sure they are working well which isn't a big shock (no pun intended) and my funny tyre wear is an indication. However the funny tyre wear might just be the knackered lower bush that I changed on the bottom of the front shock in Paraguay. If you're keeping track of our breakdowns that's still ZERO !!!! We of course are ignoring the clutch slave seal failure in Kenya which took 15mins to fix. Thats the only thing thats stopped me moving. All the rest is preventative maintenance, just like this. OH and we had a (very) slow puncture in Kenya as well due to nail but we fixed that before bedtime and only noticed once we'd camped up.
I also fulfilled a life ambition and the evidence is below. It was and easy one to tick off but it was always too expensive. Here, its not....
There you have it. "Death Road" completed. To be honest its not scary at all. The road is wide enough and not busy. There's worse tracks in Morocco....much worse and much more scary although not a beautiful.
The start turn of the death road is just after KM54 on the main road and if you make it to the bottom you have to pay the toll of 25 BOL per person. We're not sure if this is a rip off or not...we got a ticket each. If you want to venture into the town at the end of the road there's a congestion charge of 5 BOL. It not worth going in unless you need something like a coffee to calm the nerves...LMAO. The town is a dead end so you need to return to the end of the death road to get the main highway. We overheated on the way back even though I've just changed the coolant so that's not the problem.
Hope you like the photos. There's a few from this amazing country which is ranked in the top three from our trip, it maybe NUMBER 1 !! The scenery is amazing. The pricing is amazing and we could stay here for months....oh wait....we are. Those of you in the UK get ready for the shipping festival. We are ordering parts probably whilst we wait for our American B2 visa to arrive which we are hopefully applying for here in La Paz. Currently staying in Oberland Hotel in their camping for £10 oer night which is expensive but there's more overlanders here and its safe. Its not quiet though as the dogs next-door; we think they have a kennel, start as dusk and go on most of the night.
The road from Sucre to Samaipata (Che Guervera route) is amazing but muddy so those on bikes think long and hard. There are ways past the mud but if you drop your bike you're in trouble and in the mud.
If we stay here waiting for parts (and stuff like new short trousers!) much work will be done on the car. All of it maintenance and not fixing so it all depends on costs if it gets done. We can get a few things here for the car but somethings they do not have the parts and these leaks and bangs are becoming annoying and I want to fix them. I can't get a seal for my rocker cover and it now on its third attempt at sealing it with RTV.
Julies tooth ache is gone and we are now brushing our teeth every day thanks to being able to charge the electric toothbrush. Manual toothbrush is only on standby. My beard has been cut again as we went to the USA embassy but they wouldn't let us in unless we make an interview. I even put a shirt on ! The B2 visa is $160usd each.
The other day we stayed in Cochabamba, a medium sized town spread over a large area. We stayed in a cheap hostel in the centre as they had parking. It was only 100BOL for the hostel which is about £10. The Wi-Fi didn't work but no problem for one night. We left at around 10:30 the next day to find the town devoid of traffic and only people and bikes. It was a Sunday. We though this strange and since we were in the centre we carried on very slowly avoiding people and children in the middle of the road. There were no cars anywhere!
First policeman stopped up and this set the trend for the next 3 hours....we traveled at 10kmph with bikes overtaking us and got stopped by every policeman at every junction almost. Eventually all sent us on our way.....except the last one. After maybe 20km and 2 hours we got a nasty one and he told me to stop, took my license and drove off. I ignored him and drove off immediately he was moving after he thought we'd given up. I was about 5 meters behind him. He turned and went away. Julie was worried I'd get arrested. I wasn't. What would he arrest me for ! Driving on a road. So we carried on and eventually a police bike caught up to us. She had my license and gave it back. We got an escort out of town for the next 6km. This is an area the size of Sheffield with every street devoid of cars. No cars allowed. How were we to leave ? Anyhow we did leave and I didn't get arrested but made a policemen VERY angry. I got my fake license back and mostly the police we understanding and helpful. Its the only day in the year they do this. We were unlucky. My stress levels were peaking as every person we passed and every policeman was giving us "the eye" for three hours.
Later that day we needed fuel. Theres a strange rule in Bolivia where we are not allowed to buy fuel at the standard price. Its three times the price for us. On this occasion nobody would actually sell it to us. We'd heard about this. So after 10 or so gas stations we found one that not only sold it to us but at the locals price. We tipped him 35BOL for the 100 litres we purchased and saved about 500BOL in the process. 500BOL is £50 as its about 10 to 1. We were close to braking point. It was late when we arrived in La Paz and the traffic was terrible.
We'd had a really bad day.....
Julies recent double trouble with her cut to the hand and toothache have turned out fine. The hand in healing and the toothache is gone thanks to the Antibiotics. We are going to try missing the next pain medication dose and just take the antibiotic to make sure theres no pain left. The anti-inflamatory properties of the pain meds will have to go as well. We see the Dentist in the morning at 10am to see what he thinks. We don't really want to let him start drilling if its only an infection. We are heading towards La Paz so if it gets bad again there will be lots of Dentists to choose from. The Dentist here seemed to want to re-do all of Julies crown in here only bad tooth. The tooth is almost gone and she's "more machine than man" on that tooth to quote Star wars.
Anyhow, yesterday two other car turned up at the campsite so we have some Kiwi's and some swiss to play with. We drank until early last night and tonight we are having a BBQ. Been to the market to get some meat and stuff. We do need a booze run sometime soon as we will run out sometime for sure. We have £3 of steak which equates to 1Kg. Why isn't everywhere as cheap as here?
We laughed reading Hennigs Blog about his toilet escapades. I recommend you read the last couple of days at http://www.oneworldonejourney.com/
I need to watch out he may get more readers than me. Funny.
The web site for the Kiwi's is Kiwi Panamerica not that they have posted much. They bought a car in Chile and kitted it out using a penknife and some brain power. So far its not gone well. They've have a few flats and the radiator is knackered. They spent less on the car than we did on shipping....well almost. All fun and games and part of the adventure. To be honest I'd rather not have those fun parts in our trip....So Matilda if you're reading this please stay well behaved. Cheers.
Bolivia is lovley, cheap and nice. The people are great. We've even got a lady in the Sucre Central market who is now Julies best freind as we've got our veg there three days running.
We've managed to get me some peanuts, we'd been trying for three days but the stall was closed because of Easter. The Market is super !!! Theres 17 Juice stalls to get a smoothy. (17 !!!!) We got the "all in" one for £1 and got two glasses. We didn't know but you finish the glass and you get the rest of what they've made for free. So two glasses. The normal smoothy is ony 40p and again two glasses. Thankfull a travelling American told us the protocol about free re-fills. He should know, as everything is free re-fill in America. The Kiwis had given him a lift so he was shopping with us and may come to the BBQ.
Last night in a shower of sparks the transformer at the end of the road exploded and the lights went out of course....something exciting and I saw the entire thing happen. Some lightsticks were brought into service for the first time. We've been carrying them for 17 months....they take up space so i'm glad to be rid of them. We still have a few in the emergency kit. Much alcohol was drunk and so were we.
We will miss Bolivia when we leave. So far we've had a great time here. Few more weeks yet though and some (mild we hope) adventures to come on the road of death and La Paz at the overlanders camp. Bill and Rosemary are there with a knackered clutch and are wating for parts from the UK.
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