Riding into La Paz had been quite challenging, getting back out was to prove even more so. La Paz sits in a deep bowl with the sprawling mass of El Alto high above it. With some well-intentioned but misguided assistance from our SatNav we finally gave up trying to exit La Paz after it had taken us up one steep and narrow street too many. Meeting a parked truck full of gas bottles halfway up that particular street didn’t help and as it was too steep to hold the bike properly on the brakes Jenny had to abandon ship quickly while I painfully extricated Bertie – and that’s another few thousand miles wiped off the clutch then.
It was now time to take the sensible option and pay a taxi driver 30 Bolivianos (£3) to guide us out of La Paz and into El Alto. With intense traffic and a few diesel fumes hanging in the air we finally cleared the sprawling mass of El Alto 2.5 hours and 30kms later. It was so hot and choking even the locals were passing out. Video clip 48 secs http://youtu.be/C18NJpD72Wc Europe and the USA, you can impose emissions regulations to your hearts content but until countries like this join in, ’tis but a drop in the ocean.
After that the ride was scenic and easy and after a pleasant lunch stop at a roadside stall we pressed on. I couldn’t stop humming guess what tune in my head all the way (I know I know, its not the same Copacabana but …..) Why though did the satnav keep saying continue to ferry?
We hadn’t looked closely enough at our quite large scale map but a closer inspection showed a brief neck of water to cross on Lake Titicaca before reaching our destination. No problem we thought, done ferries before. As it turned out we hadn’t done Bolivian ferries before and the ones on Lake Titicaca could be more accurately described as rafts – but they take anything up to the size of lorries and small coaches. So with hearts beating faster we boarded the ferry and then spent the 15 minute crossing clinging to Bertie and hoping that in the rocking swell he and we wouldn’t topple over the side. I’m sure it was safer than it felt but …….. Video here 39 secs http://youtu.be/2sjC3Qtdxcs
The rest of the road to Copacabana is full of sweeping bends and views of Lake Titicaca, claiming to be the highest lake in the world navigable by commercial boats. It’s a real joy to ride the road above it’s shores. Copacabana itself is quite touristy but good fun and a nice place to spend a couple of days. Whilst there the Festival Virgen de la Candelaria was taking place where they bless automobiles. So outside the cathedral we watched as vehicles were covered in flowers, firecrackers were let off and the local populace had their cars etc blessed. Given the state of the roads and traffic in Bolivia quite a wise precaution. Like many things we saw in Bolivia this festival was full of colour, tradition and life and really good fun to watch; certainly the guy in our video seems pretty happy with it all. Video here 36 secs http://youtu.be/mbcvv43hvhA
So now it’s onward and into Peru, our 4th country. What shall we find there, who shall we meet. Whatever happens I hope it’s going to be interesting (& I hope my 3 week dose of ‘Bolivian belly’ comes to and end; there’s only some much loo paper you can carry on a motorcycle).