Looked at the bicycle, really looked at it. Dirt rust spots wear that at home would get immediate attention, just marks of movement press ahead and making do. Tired of my clothes so for the […]
High pass border, there’s a man in a shack that has rickety wooden double doors that let the whistling gale in, we chat, this solitary Bolivian functionary thumps the stamp and pats me on the back, thanks me for visiting his pais. Nearby a pole with a sign, another few K then over a small edge bump, suddenly Larry whrrr on pavement, asphalt, blacktop, I wasn’t necessarily longing for it, in fact I like it less, but it’s nice not to have washboards.
Transitions, boggling descents, hillfolds, soon riding in sunshine warmth headed to hot. The words are a little more articulated, but also snappier and with sh ch jjhuh sounds where I don’t expect, I have to focus and interpolate at pace, smartly trimmed roadblock police, calm friendly questions. I’m expectant for observing the source of gravity here, entering Argentina the back way, literally and metaphorically, Buenos Aires as distant from this landscape as Tokyo or Helsinki are. And for days it’s a swimming flotsam of impressions. Far greater wealth than Peru or Bolivia, of course, shiny pickups, zippy recent model cars, at one highway crossroad there is a gas station with an interior all of white and metal surfaces, could be at an off ramp in Missouri, panini sandwiches lined up waiting to be microwaved and the woman behind the counter in a smart polyester uniform. One day for breakfast I stop at the village corner shop and buy a wedge of divine cheese and a baguette and a square of chocolate, sit in the tree shaded plaza not particularly nostalgic for the empty tiendas of the last weeks. Soon I’ll be shuffling confusedly through a bonafide grocery store, frightened by the largesse. It all makes me feel more self conscious in my stinking riding clothes and permanently dirt infused shoes.
This high country lakes area draws tourists in 4×4’s, first a dust geyser in the distance then the suspension screamingdancing through the chop. They bull charge alongside without slowing and I see the gringos looking […]
Rattlebuzz hands numb, the tingle in my right ring finger will last through the night, been gasping eightnineten hour days, noon slicing heat and an hour before sunset all my clothes on. Patterns in the […]
Into the Salar a second time from Uyuni, just a corner of it, standing water splashing salt onto my legs and gear, reflected skies rainclouds on the ground and harlequin above. I cease and just […]
Meet a couple on bikes, these encounters almost always jolly, fellowship of the road and all. The first thing out of his mouth, before “hello” or “lovely day” is about how he read a careful […]
The Salar de Uyuni is one of the destinations that filled my Bolivia anticipations. The landscape, its austere windblown isolating beauty, certainly, but also the idea of it, the premonition and the inspiration. An invocation […]
The days between blend. Though that’s usually a plaint, here it’s a reassurance, not every event is a distinct bounded object, movement through the hill rises and basins achieving a blurred continuity that is more difficult at a footpace, where evolution has successfully calibrated vectors of attention. Pedaling compromises that field and conspires with fatigue to wear it to unnoticed, when I am fortunate there are no hours.
The setup continues to get more and more baroque. Skeptics indicate that I might like to have a bit more agua for some stretches south. Obvious solution: more bottle cages! I guess I have to […]
The circuit that I eyeballed on the map was from La Paz up the pass La Cumbre (15, 200 feet), down to the jungle and then back up the Takesi trekking route in order to […]
Mountain passes, one usually doesn’t, but when one pauses, the weather fluxing clouds low grey and high white, shuffle to searing sun that I look up eyes closed worshipfully. Can’t see La Paz anymore, a […]
The approach the usual bedlam through light industrial auto repair welding screaming clanking, every truck and bus and moto spewing graphite smoke to collect like a fog on the pavement that ends at the edges […]
Leaving Peru to Bolivia, this north lake borderless border crossing. Passport stamped in Puno a hundred k ago, here none of the usual cues or trappings, no soldiers or police, no gates or furtive looks […]