We have been in Bolivia for over 3 weeks now and for the first 2 weeks we were at a constant 3700m and our major foe/friend was the wind. To the east Bolivia drops steeply into a landscape not too dissimilar to the Nepalese foothills. There are less people living in the land and there are gravel/dirt roads zig zagging there way up and down the steep hillsides joining the pueblos. The rivers are too gorged to follow so typically the roads dive down 1000m to the river then back up the other side.
From Oruro we followed highway 1 to Konani – we were spared the busy traffic heading to La Paz by using the newly constructed but not yet open highway – paved road all for our ownsome!. The last 20km were with the busses and trucks and was nervewracking. We had a big next day climbing up to Abra Tres Cruces at 4700m. The weather we had in Oruro meant the last 500m was biking thru a snowy landscape – spectacular. We reached the high point at 4pm and fortunately for us the paved road had been extended and we had 25km of stunning descent. So stunning that I was too busy gawking at the mountains and succumbed to a snake bite (flat tyre). Took us ages to fix (wheel rim too high sided) and in fading light we finished the steep descent to Quime.
The next three days were sunny, warm, green and very hilly. From the Antarctic like salars to the Himalayan foothills. Bananas and papayas, shorts and t´shirts and barely needing a sleeping bag at night. It has been nice camping again – but rule to ourselves – don´t camp in childrens playground if you want to be left alone! People have been very friendly – we have been given bananas and mandarins. Most of the traffic seems to be late in the day.
The road quality has varied and this morning we had our first rain and the nice (when dry) smooth clay sections suddenly became treacherous on the downhill. We have been on the go for 5 and a half physical days so we treated ourselves to a short day, a nice hotel and FINALLY a HOT SHOWER that is actually hot)!. It is a shame it is not good drying weather as our limited clothing supply is very grubby. We had to lock them in the cupboard so they wouldn´t escape when we came out for lunch!!
It is 3 more hard days to El Alto and we hope the forecast we just checked is not right as it is for rain for 3 days.