Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to Civilization

Southern Villages
After 37 exhausting km from the miners´ camp, we finally got to Villamar, the village between the rocks.


We found a very nice hotel (30 Bs), Las Piedritas, where they served us the traditional Bolivian dinner (35 Bs): vegetables soup and llama steak with Quinoa and some fresh vegetables and a canned fruit salad for dessert. For the shower you pay separately (10 Bs). In this village we had our first shopping experience in Bolivia - cookies and mayonnaise.


We preferred to cook our own breakfast, and shared with the family an Israeli TU-BISHVAT plate of dried fruit and nuts. For the first few hours of the day we crossed sandy flats.


At the end of the day we had to cross a river a few times, and the rest of the way to Villa Alota we had to walk.


Although there is a sign of fork&knife at the entrance, nobody was willing to cook for us, so Shoham cooked: rice with carrots, dried prunes and some red wine tourists left behind.

We skipped the nice looking road to Uyuni, and instead continued to San Agustin. The road started with lots of sand, but later it improved. The view of the valley become amazing, as we passed many abandoned villages, llamas and nice polluted streams.


Right when we finished our lunch, a group of soldiers came to amuse themselves by shooting at birds. Luckily, they kept missing. From there we ran away up to the top, where Amit helped pushing a stuck ORV.


On the top we saw that the km sign for the opposite way was incorrect and so we fixed it.


Throughout the way down, the road was under construction.


The last 10 km of sand and streams crossing was mostly by foot. Somehow we still made it to San Agustin before complete darkness. We heard music coming from the village even before seeing it, and made it right on time to eat the local junk food in their Fiesta: Salchipapa (french fries and sausage) and Chicharon (llama meat, cold boiled wheat and potatoes). The people from the village and the surroundings were in the middle of celebrating the anniversary of the village, by dancing and playing traditional music through the night and the following morning.


Due to the Fiesta, the hotels were all occupied. After eating 4 portions, the Chicharon´s lady, Victoria Salvatir, suggested that we sleep at her place. After moving a huge pile of tiny potatoes from the floor, we could reach the bed.


Interestingly, they grow Guinea pigs in their back yard, for eating.


Victoria insisted that we use her kitchen and the piles of vegetables scattered in the kitchen. So in the morning we made Mujadra and chickpeas with vegetables stew.


Our hostess refused to eat with us and even made breakfast for us: a sweet wheat beverage, fried bread that was enough for lunch as well, and a cake. Before leaving town we benefited some more from the Fiesta and had a tasty coconut icecream.


Deep Sand
On our way to San Juan we took a wrong turn that led us to a wadi with deep sand where we pushed our bikes for 3 hours.


Eventually, Amit found a way out that led us to the main road to the village. This road first crossed a Salar of 20 km. In San Juan we slept in a nice hotel, Alojamento Licancahur, with a joking owner. When we asked about the price for a night, he said it was 100 USD. The real price was as usual cheap (30 Bs per night, 10 Bs for a shower), and he also arranged a meal for us in the local pub (18 Bs). After asking for a large sized meal, a huge plate waited for us.


During the evening only kids sell in all the grocery shops. At the entrance to a shop you have to shout until the kid comes out.

Hotel de Sal
In the morning we fixed a broken spoke, and left quite late. On our way to Colcha K, we skipped a long climb and went around the high hill. When we saw the third ORV we knew we were on the right way. We reached the military base near Colcha K early enough to continue towards the Puerto Chuvica hotels. Due to a very bad road, we stopped eventually in Villa Candelaria, which doesn´t appear on any map. We slept in a Hotel de Sal - where everything is made of salt (the walls, floor, beds and chairs).


This is a sure way to charge more money from the tourists (40 Bs). The hotel´s owner told us she had no food, and in the more expensive hotel nearby they didn´t want to give us a meal without lodging. Finally she made us a good but small meal (30 Bs). We completed dinner with leftovers from San Agustin and lots of wafers. From the many flavours we liked most the vanilla wafers, which have an authentic taste of vanilla. There was a bored puppy in the hotel that boldly entered our room to try and find entertainment.


After a short ride in the morning we got to Puerto Chuvica, where we got ready to cross the Salar de Uyuni - the biggest salt flat in the world.

For more photos of this post click here


                       Shoham & Amit
                     South America by Bicycle

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