the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, seen on a billboard while leaving La Paz. The first indigenous president of Bolivia, he is known for socialist leanings.
not everyone is happy with Evo
on the way to Oruro, we witnessed a growing moon
this is a somewhat typical Bolivian highway-side town
long stretches of flat riding, seems like a dream after so much climbing and dropping for so many months
getting closer to Oruro
the outskirts of Oruro
Oruro as seen from some cliffs above the city
wild sunset above Oruro
The sign says: "Long live Oruro and its general strike!". Yes, we had the dismal luck to be in Oruro during a 72 hour-plus general strike. This is particular to Bolivia it seems... its called "paro", and local communities do this as political statements. Everything shuts down, all roads are blockaded, the streets are empty,and you can barely find enough food to eat. A cyclist's nightmare, really.
demonic painting seen in Oruro's main church
Oruro returns to life after the strike, thankfully, as we have to buy various provisions for the long desert stretches ahead of us...
buying grain alcohol (stove fuel) in bulk. Apparently Bolivians just drink this stuff.
we discovered this armadillo-back chirongo (!) while guitar shopping in Oruro
this would tax anyone's problem solving abilities. How to get all this onto a bicycle?
fresh-squeezed orange juice vendor
the route we would follow from Oruro to Salinas
ominous omen leaving Oruro, there is a dead dog in this pile of garbage. Bolivia seems to have its fair share of scenes like this one.
of course the flamingoes only add to the surreal nature of this journey
this sign, at the entrance to a nearby village, reads: "Warning: all thieves will be burned!"
a hailstorm forced us off the road at this ghost town, whose only inhabitant seemed to be this guy (turns out a few people do live here)
an enormous herd of llamas backed by snowy peaks
arrvied at Huachacalla, but everything is closed (Sunday). This is typical of Bolivia: either you cycle hours upon hours thinking you will arrive somewhere with some kind of service (lunch, shop, shade, etc.) but more often than not its a ghost town, or a populated town that is deserted and closed up anyway.
this is Sajama, highest peak in Bolivia at 6500m-plus
great wide-open landscapes here
of course, ghost townish as ever. We do however, manage to find bread, water, and some vegetables (turnips and carrots) in Sabaya, as well as bananas (like gold out here)
llamas on the highway
now on dirt, surface of fate for the next several weeks (along with sand)... this is our first view of the Salar de Coipasa
Villa Vitalina as seen from the salt flats
on the way to Coipasa village, we ran into deep sand, not the only time we will be seeing this
curious kids in Coipasa
amazing salt crystal formations on the Salar de Coipasa
sunrise above the salar
the cave seen from the salar
you gotta try this to believe it
not all smooth-grooving here. These rough salt crystals made for slow going and delayed our progess
also, wet salt made for tricky navigation
Jeff's bottom bracket area while exiting the salar
actually, Tauca does have a few residents, and they grow lots of quinoa in the lands about
getting water in Luca
we did a lot of resting in Salinas during our two-night stay at the Hostal Ecológico, highly recommended.
Jeff's sorry bottom lip after the reflective UV on the salar had fried us a few days back