We entered Bolivia today. We asked cyclists already in the country whether they were sensing any unrest or finding any problems, and none of them were. So we decided to head on in. And even the news shows that all the issues have been in the eastern part of the country, which was far from our route anyway.
The one hurdle we had to cross that we haven't anywhere else on our trip: We had to get a visa! There was a gob of paperwork and $135/person to be paid for the privilege. Bolivia started this program (exclusively for US citizens) several months ago in the interest of "reciprocity". It only makes sense. If Bolivian citizens want to go the US, they have to jump through all these hoops (and far more, really). And we knew about this hurdle for many months.
We had thought we could get the visa cheaper ($100) Bolivian consulate at the last city in Peru, Puno, but when we showed up at their doorstep they told us they were out of visas and didn't know when they'd come.
For other cyclists, our friend Andrew wrote a great article about how US cyclists get a Bolivian visa.
We rode from Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia mostly along Lake Titicaca where the high-altitude lake reflected silver sunlight off the deep blue-green water. During the ride we saw villages harvesting reeds to make into mats, individuals making fishing nets, groups of people preparing the earth for the planting of potatoes, with mostly human power or oxen, but a few had the benefit of using tractors. The first night out of Puno, we outraced a tremendous storm and dove for cover in Ilave after riding 35 beautiful, flat miles. It was so good to be in a hotel room, dry, and safe from the blasting winds and pounding rain which lasted for most of the late afternoon and evening. The next day when we awoke the sun was shinning and the skies were clear. We rode another 49 miles enjoying vast open altiplano which was a wide open valley of dry flat fields. The closer we got to the Bolivian border the more we saw sheep and llamas grazing in the open valley. We even stopped for a photo shoot at the market in Juli where the livestock market was full of sheep and llamas. I saw live sheep hauled up on to the roofs of mini buses and lashed down. I watched as they stuffed live llamas inside the buses. I found it amusing to see a big bunch of live giant sheep on top of a van and a heads of llama sticking out an open window as the buses called colectivos drove past us. I was glad I was not one of those animals.
We stopped for the night in the last town in Peru called Yunguyo before we crossed into Bolivia. To our delight the town was celebrating the fiesta of its patron saint. read more here... lee mas aquí... »
We crossed the border from Bolivia into Argentina today after spending all night on a very comfortable train. Well, at least it was a well-run, clean, on-time train.
Here's the sign that met us at the border, telling us how far it is to Ushuaia, our goal? at the bottom of Argentina:
Since we've been in Argentina for weeks, I guess it's time that I wrote a little something to wrap up our time in Bolivia!
We had a delightful time in Bolivia, despite the fact that we were lazy and only rode the bikes two fairly easy days (from the Peruvian border to La Paz). After that we took a bus to Uyuni, a tour of the Salar de Uyuni, and then a train to the border at Villazon. (We did get back on the bikes to ride to where we currently are in northern Argentina, in Salta).
Something is always going on politically in Bolivia, and our time there was no exception. You've probably heard about the tension between Bolivia (and Venezuela) and the U.S., and just before we arrived the US Ambassador was asked to leave the country because he was accused of instigating demonstrations in favor of breaking up the country. The current president, Evo Morales, is a campesino (he started his career growing coca!) and is clearly a populist leftist, and has lots of challenges ahead of him. read more here... lee mas aquí... »
Wow, I just got an email about an incredible new information source about cycling in Bolivia. Excellent, detailed, with great references to other info sources. If you want your wanderlust to kick in or you're interested in Bolivia, Cycling South-west Bolivia at http://www.tour.tk/.