Monday, 26 May 2014

Bolivia, Villazon To Uyuni

Good afternoon all

I was all fired up and ready to do this RR when we got news of Haydens passing which took the wind out of my sails completely.

I am trying to look on the positive side so need something to take my mind away from the tragedy, get this done and keep me occupied, it is fair to say it has hit me hard with this tragedy.

Huge thanks to you guys for the support, very kind words.

Regards Andi

Ok, new report.

Hotel scraps and police .....WOH HOH

Fresh air in low digits was our start for the day Villazon, up the RN9 to Tupiza then left up the 21 to Uyuni.

The road was tar sealed for the first 100 km to the turn off to the 21, our map showed gravel road from there on in and 200 km of it to Uyuni.

Having served our time in all the Antos sandpits and corrugations for what ended up being 1300km of no tar seal whatsoever we were firstly very experienced and secondly happy to have ticked that box so were hoping the road was going to be more polite.

The valleys and passes allowing good views of our surroundings and standard issue corrugations again, this section of the road still pretty good tho through to Atocha, the river into Atocha proving a little interesting too being slimy.

Back on track now

Quick lunch stop and on our way to tackle the second half which proved to be more than interesting with 100’s of meters of bad sandpits, the dual wheel trucks creating a W in the wheel track making it near impossible to gun it and get it going at speed.

Not ideal but paddling was the order of the day here and some sections Ellen had to walk about 300 meters.

From the sandpits to Uyuni the corrugations chimed in big time again slowing the whole thing down again, we are used to that now.

It was bitterly cold and I was watching our digital volt meter drop down to 9.6 volts, as I turned off lights and heated grips it came back up, I hit the heated grips again and the voltage dropped like a stone.....problems somewhere.

Arriving at Uyuni we found a hotel, wifi, parking, hot water etc so fitted the bill least for a while.

The main street in Uyuni

We cleaned up, showered, got organized and checked the email for one we had waiting for, after tea we returned as we needed to get hold of a friend on email, asking the people to turn the wifi on they then said no, you only get half an hour and that is it and you used it , I will add at this point the wifi was less than dial up speed so even checking email was a mission.

The discussion continued along the lines “you did not say half an hour when we clocked in”, it got heated with them refusing to turn the wifi on, we tried to reason with them saying check the email only and that would be it but no.

Next thing they say get out (i.e. boot us out) and they gave us two minutes to get everything out!!!, at this point we said to each other these guys are nuttas so we would be happy to go somewhere else.

We said please refund our money, no they would only refund part of our money because we had a shower earlier, at this point I did not see the funny side of this and said I would get the I did.

I rode to the police station, got two policemen, they jumped up, in their truck, following me with lights flashing and the nine yards, the owner of the hotel watching this from the window as we pulled up.

The two policemen and I went upstairs and Ellen explained to the officer the whole thing with the owners wife going OFF .... the police kept telling her to settle down.

The police explained to the owners that they can’t retrospectively say only 30 minutes wifi and that them telling us to get out in two minutes was stupidly unreasonable, the police went on to say to them these people are our tourists and bring money here and needed to be treated with some respect, we chimed in saying please just treat us normal, no red carpet required however with the owners wife this just threw petrol on the fire and both the owner and his wife were going toxic.

The policemen trying to hold back smiles of disbelief at the hotel owners unusual behavior stayed while we packed up and they ordered the owners to refund our money IN FULL or they would be in trouble ... more petrol on the fire .... the police could not believe it either and they actually called for reinforcements, shortly after another two officers turned up.

The owner then accused me of ripping his plants out of his planter (there was five or six leaves on the ground), by this time the police had had enough and started to pull the hard line on them.

We did get all of our money back, we left under police escort while the owners wife was still screeching at the top of her lungs...unreal

The funny thing is there was some Chinese people there too, Ellen politely explained to them the whole thing and they were pretty uncomfortable about staying too, we don’t know whether they stayed or not.

Talk about have fun, with police backing 100% I really enjoyed myself and was very happy that the police really stood with us, to be fair they had fun too as it brightened up their otherwise cold and quiet night....the things we do to help them.

Silver lining, we went back to the police station and they helped us find a hotel with normal people (same price etc), no parking but superb wifi ...that we were allowed to use, no parking, no problem, the police said leave the moto here in our office ...done deal.

So not an ideal restart to Bolivia be fair but no-one died ... probably wasn’t far off and it wouldn’t have been us.

A good nights sleep in a normal hotel we were set to hit the salar and enjoy Uyuni, Maya however had different ideas and had no intention of starting at zero degrees with a semi flat battery, charging problem had taken up its place.

Back track a few years and half a world away our friends in Wanaka New Zealand used to run tours in Bolivia had emailed us saying if we get to Uyuni go see their friend Chris and if we needed any help he would be the man, our intention where to catch up with him anyway but now it had been bought forward and yes he is THE man.

He took us to an auto sparky who charged the battery enough to get Maya around for a doctors appointment and see what was wrong were her tummy.

After much prodding, poking, testing we lifted the tank and he checked the alternator and voltage regulator, turns out the voltage regulator was going south which is a bugger.

He cleaned all the terminals as best he could, we need a replacement which we have ordered out of the USA because in Bolivia a voltage reg for this bike is a non event.

We still have charging but cannot use anything that uses power, i.e. lighting or heated grips etc ... bum, its cold here.

Killing this day with fault finding we stayed the night at a hostal opposite (again with normal people) ((and wifi)) (((that we were allowed to use))) and the next morning set off to the salar ..... that next.

Maya safely parked up in the good hostel

Sunday, 25 May 2014

A Post Of Respect For A Friend Who Has Left Us

Good afternoon all

Today we learned of our fried in Wanaka Hayden Mapp who was killed in a motor vehicle accident.

Hayden was a 4 wheeling buddy of mine in Wanaka and for those of you who know of our old beaten up Toyota Prado "the Handbag" Hayden was a major player in the resurrection of this this vehicle that was rebuilt out of respect.

Hayden leaves behind two boys and wife Jane.

Condolences to the family, sorry for the loss.

R.I.P Hayden


Andi & Ellen Delis  

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

San Antonio To Cafayate To Salta To The Bolivian Border

Tanked, tummied and tuned we set off down the RN 40, turning off from the 51 road we had the place to ourselves, road conditions good apart from the mandatory corrugations that is pretty much standard issue in this part of the world.

The road wound up and up slowly taking us to 4968 meters...just couldn’t crack the 5 unfortunately.

Sorry for the shit photo, it was cold, high, miserable fine day etc etc so they are my excuses and besides you need glasses cos it is clear to me

It was fookin cold with the temp gauge showing just above zero, mind you we are nearly 5 km above sea level, quick photos and on our way.

Cresting the top we came across road works which made for interesting riding as the top 100 - 150 mm was soft and loose, further down many river crossings washing Antofalla off Maya.

Again view along the valley down did not let us down

Cachi was a nice wee town with a cafe called Olivers the is owner is a moto rider, we camped up at the municipal ground which was nice and quiet when we arrived, unfortunately that night right next door there was a huge party that went on most of the night with the base beating through the ground and our beds .... not much sleep was had.

Clearly going where no moto rider had been before except there guys on this door and all the others on the other doors

Next day was Cafayate with stop offs along the way, an uneventful day saw us arriving with plenty of time up our sleeves with some cool scenery along the way from abrupt rock formations.

Our intention were to camp but the wind was up and some ominous clouds were watching us, we managed to bag a good price in a hotel and it had stella wifi which was very cool.

While in Cafayate we meet two guys from Italy on two Africa twins so we had a chat with them exchanging info etc.

As it turned out the following morning we hit the road at pretty much the same time meeting the two Italians so we all rode together looking at the attractions, we then peeled off to Salta and they took the road to Cachi.

The first crack .....yeah

The twins

Check out our racetrack with a view .. .no more teeth chattering

The twins and Maya waiting patiently

The Italian lads and the New Zealand dwarfs

Massive caverns cut by water over a coupla years

The rest of the ride for us was beautiful tarmac all the way to Salta apart from the last 10 km when Mrs.Garmin sent us down a wet narrow farm track style road which was the shortest route ...made for interesting riding as it was wet and slippery but it bought us out just up the road from Loki Hacienda, our destination for a few days.

I was meant to fly to Buenas Aires to be an expert witness for a high court case in New Zealand however a few days before the case was settled which meant we could step on it and head to Bolivia as winter was chasing us up and hard.

We stayed only two days in Salta getting a few things done then B lined it to Bolivia.

Taking to golf cart race track the other way it was a leisurely ride to Bolivia allowing us plenty of time to cross the border later in the afternoon with ease.

Back To Bolivia ....