Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

June 17, 2002.-- Bolivia has now added to our list of favorite countries.

Credit to to La Paz

-- Story by Erin --

Saturday, June 15th: The ride to La Paz was more than 350 kilometers, more than we had done in Bolivia in one day so far. We took our time leaving Cochabamba thinking we would have an easy ride on good paved roads. The trip was uphill all the way. The highest point we passed was 4,700 meters and greeted us with wind, rain and snow all at once. To make matters worse, the bikes don’t run well at that altitude and so we slogged our way, shivering from the cold and wet, over the top and down the twisty route to the vast pampas below. It was a beautiful ride, and took us several hours to get to the half-way point.  We took a break in a small village in the middle of the pampas. They were having some kind of political gathering in town with lots of flags and music. Liam pulled out his juggling clubs and put on a show for the kids. Before long we had a huge crowd around us all laughing and cheering. We had stopped just past the check point and had not paid the toll. The police came over to see what was going on and decided to leave us alone.

Around sunset we finally arrived at the upper rim of La Paz, called El Alto (a city in itself). The sight from that entrance to the city is just spectacular -- So much so it takes your breath away. The rim was at 4,100 meters, the center of the city was 500 meters below. The city is built in a steep canyon/bowl with multicolored mountains topped with snow surrounding it. At sunset, the whole city looks pink with a few new business buildings in the middle. It took us almost 40 minutes of weaving in and out of traffic, down steep windy roads, to reach the center.  By the time we found a hostel it was  already dark. The traffic was horrendous and the steep one-way cobblestoned streets made searching for accommodation tedious.  At one point, we rode up a steep one-way street -- in the wrong direction! Liam spotted a decent place with parking in the courtyard, so we took it. We found out later it was a love-motel situated right next to the local sex cinema. Oh well, it was private, comfortable, and had safe parking!

Sunday, June 16th: In the morning, through the use of the internet, we hooked up with Kfir who was staying at the local Israeli-filled hostal.  He brought us into the attached restaurant for a traditional Israeli breakfast of Muluhaj (cheese-filled pastry dipped in honey).  Motorbike shops were closed so we spent the day walking around (more like up and down) the city center, browsing the textile shops and taking pictures. 

Monday, June 17th: First thing in the morning we were up and out to run errands. Our first stop was the American embassy to get pages added to my passport -- I got a new passport just before we left on this trip, had 24 pages added in Nepal, and only had space for one more stamp. We forgot about the high level of security and we had to empty our pockets of numerous Swiss army knives, leather-man tools, screws, keys, etc so we ended up filling an entire basket. The security inspection (2 levels/stages) took longer than the actual process of adding pages -- No charge!

Then we were off to Nosiglia Honda shop, which had come highly recommended by several motorcycle travelers. We wound our way down to the Zona Sur district where the shop is located, and have instant culture shock as we enter this area of big supermarkets and fancy boutiques. We had obviously entered the rich/expatriate section of town. The houses looked like they came from the Gold Coast of Long Island in New York. After finding the shop and we were warmly greeted by the owner Walter and the head mechanic, Freddy. They made room for us to work on the bikes and pitched in to help us. We did an oil change and various other little bits we’d been meaning to get to, all for less than $10, plus cost of oil. We exchanged stickers and agreed to stop in to say hi on our way back from Peru.

Before leaving the area, we had Dominos Pizza and entered a shop selling products from back home.  Liam starred at us as we ran through the shop, pointing and screaming at all the goods on the shelf like little kids in a toy shop -- well, they had Gatorade, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Log Cabin syrup, Campbell's soups, Hershey's chocolate, and of course, huge jars of Jif Extra Crunchy peanut butter!


Liam entertaining the locals, just outside of La Paz

At 4,100 meters, looking to the city center 500 meters below

Another view of the city, surrounded by mountains

Along one of the main streets, with the thousands of homes blanketing the surrounding mountains

La Paz has an interesting mix of old traditions and new technology

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