Sunday, 25 December 2011

Day 42: Heading for La Paz (635 kms)

We were behind a day because of my battery trouble, so we set out to ride all the way to La Paz, take a day off for repairs and then continue south towards Argentina with my friend and former colleague Andrew Scyner. We would have made it except for three delays.

First, my battery acted up again. The solution was simple: the connection to the negative post was loose, but it took some time for the electrical system to come back online. During the break we had lunch at a fancy but completely deserted hotel on the shore of Lake Titicaca. High season has not yet begun, but this place was seriously overbuilt.

Continuing southeast along the lakeshore, Peter was nearly run off the road by a car with two thrill seeking Peruvian teens. We stopped to enjoy the lake with its backdrop of Bolivian snowcapped peaks. I regretted not being able to camp there, however this desire would be fulfilled.

We turned up at the Peruvian border station in the town of Desaguadero, just as night was falling. Unusually the town on the Bolivian side shared the same name and, in fact the twins seemed to function as a single town. And it was a rotten place.

Peter's bike had overstayed its welcome; the second delay. The customs agent's computer did not like this fact, and froze. Peter will want to tell this story, but suffice it to say that a "practical" accommodation was arrived at. Peru extended a "thanks for you visit" and we crossed just as the border station was closing for the night.

Then the third delay: the Bolivian side was closed, both the immigration and customs. We were in the country, but had no permission to be there and had no desire to stay in rotten Desaguadero.

A kind customs officer took some pity on us and completed the paperwork for the bikes. He had already worked a full day, and did this on his personal time. Nor was he looking for a bribe, although I do think he asked one of us halfheartedly if we'd brought anything from Canada.

We made camp on the lakeshore just around a point, and out of sight of the town.

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