Sunday, May 19, 2013

12 hours to travel 120 km

The day finally arrived for me to head out from Santa Cruz and work my way south. The first thing I needed to do was drop by the Triumph dealership to pickup Fred and say goodbye to Eduardo and his team.  I was in no rush since I had decided I was only going to travel 120km to the nearby town of Samaipata. So after a couple of cups of coffee and conversation with Eduardo I headed out at 10pm. 

This is when things started to become clear that this may be a long day. The first indication was when I tried to get fuel in Santa Cruz prior to leaving. To say it is a unique challenge in Bolivia is an understatement. 

There are four scenarios you will run into especially as a tourist.

1) The station does not have any petrol left for sale.

2) They have petrol but since you are a tourist you will have to pay the special tourist price which is approximately 3X what the locals pay. 

3) They have petrol, but since you are a tourist certain stations cannot sell you petrol period. They have cameras that record the licence plate numbers (Not 100% sure why this is but some say they just can't unless you have a local plate).

4) And finally in the below picture this was one of those station that could not legally sell me fuel. But if I parked outside of the cameras view and bought a 5 litre fuel bag in the store they would fill it for me. I have bought milk and water in a bag but fuel is a first for me!

So that being said I went through everyone of these scenarios before I was able to get fuel.  This nocked off the first hour of my 12 hour journey. Now I know you are asking yourself what else could take him 11 hours to get a mere 120 km. 

I have one word and it is blockades. Unbeknownst to me before arriving in Bolivia I find out that various worker groups go on protest throughout the country for the whole month of May. 

Blockade #1) Occurred as I approached the city limits of Sucre to leave. This first blockade was just a minor inconvenience as there was a detour available and slowed me down only 45 minutes.

Blockade #2) Was more interesting as this blockaded occurred on a bridge. But the locals assured me that since I was on a motorcycle. I could just drive down the steep river bank then along the riverbed under the bridge and then up the other side. Well lets just say that I had 100 onlookers watching the gringo to see if he could actually make it. And you guessed it I dropped Fred on the rough steep incline. So with a 100 people watching and clapping I took a bow, then asked for some help to pick the bike up and off I went.

Blockade #3) Was supposed to last 2 hours but only lasted 15 minutes? They said it was road construction yet I did not see any workers or vehicles?

Blockade #4) The big daddy of blockades. I will let the video speak for itself.

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