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|Oruro to Sucre • Bolivia 4wd Expedition|
|JULY 16, 2006 – SUNDAY|
|PANAM 2006 GROUP • HERE WE COME!|
| We intend to rendezvous with the PanAm 2006 travelers (panam.org.uk) – 3 British Overlander Campervans – somewhere in Bolivia. There is a posting to their website showing their location 3 days ago. We believe we will meet them in Sucre today. Off we go . . .It looks like we can take a secondary road, #6 southeast right into Sucre. To verify, we return to the bus terminal to inquire of a driver the best route to Sucre. We are told that the busses only go at night to Sucre, but that they go to Potosi first via the secondary Hwy 1, and then up to Sucre via primary highway 5. We get these directions through a middle school girl “interpreting” with Spanglish and a picture drawn in the dirt! This will be a longer route, but we assume it will be the best roads.
The roads are again wonderful! We cannot believe that we are on a secondary highway from Oruro to Potosi. It is as good as a good 2-lane in the US (and better than some!) We are in the mountains. The people seem to sustain themselves by a small amount of farming and raising alpaca and sheep. We see thousands of alpaca, and then when the elevation starts to lower, the flocks are alpaca mixed with sheep. The sheep are a small breed. The babies are very, very small, and so cute!!! They do not dock the tails of the sheep, so it seems weird to see the long wooly tails. The animals are kept in by rock walls about 3 feet tall. A common home compound has a few sun-dried clay brick buildings (no windows, as they don’t have glass?), and many different walled in areas for the animals. All of the animals are out grazing during the day, but I presume that the different areas are for separating the flocks as needed, and possibly storage of their hay, etc.
Our lunch stop is at 13,386 feet. Our altimeter blinks the ALTITUDE, and then blinks OXYGEN, then ALTITUDE, then OXYGEN. Pretty funny! Our lunch vista is overlooking a long downhill with a series of these great rock fences and a few buildings. There are small areas, round areas, square areas, all with their own purpose, I am sure. It is very beautiful.
We find a bypass around Potosi (13,454 feet), and head northeast on Hwy 5 to Sucre. The road to Sucre is another mountainous road (go figure), scattered with the rock and/or adobe brick homes with the miles and miles of surrounding rock fences. Sunday must be wash day. We see laundry hanging in trees and bushes, and even see it hanging from the roadside guardrail. These people are quite ingenious.
We get into Sucre at dark. We are given directions to the Hotel Austria. The directions don’t exactly work with the actual way the roads go (this we are finding is typical for S. America). We find ourselves on a street with wires hanging across it at about 11 feet. We are 12 foot 1 inch. So I hang out the window, stand on the armrest and throw the single wire (after 5 attempts) over the gas cans & onto the solar panels. We drive slowly & it works! Not so lucky for the next wire about 50 feet down the street. We are pretty sure we clipped it. I guess this is a common thing, for no one seemed to bother with us.
We do find the Hotel Austria, at Av. Ostria Gutierrez #506, (in front of the bus terminal). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, (591)-4-645-4202. The lady at the desk confirms that there are 3 casa rodantes (homes on wheels, homes that move) in her gated lot. Mike takes a peek and is pretty sure we have found the PANAM 2006 group. They are at dinner, but we are so happy to see their rigs, that we don’t even care. We pay our 70 bolivianos ($9 US) for the room and parking, although she doesn’t give us a key. I guess she knows we aren’t staying in the hotel and she can re-rent our room, just like she probably did the other campervans (ha). After maneuvering into our spot, we taxi to the center plaza of town to find the group, or at least have some dinner.
While I was wait for a table at a nice looking pizza place (pizza we have found is usually a safe bet for food), Michael sets off to see what other options there might be. He came back in telling me that he wanted me to come meet some people. He had walked right to the restaurant where PanAm was eating and introduced himself and then called each by their first names. I guess they were VERY surprised. They thought we might be another 4-5 days behind them. We talked for close to 2 hours before heading back. They ALL seem wonderful. The Brit accent is going to be interesting to get used to.
We found out that tomorrow is a rest day (interpreted I was told by Judy means SHOPPING DAY). Judy has invited me to go textile/weaving shopping. I am game!!! I have not had time to read about the area, and since they have been here for about 10 days, they know what kind of “good” stuff there is.
The sleep is good, and very restful, knowing that we are not having to “pay” the police to watch over us at a prison! It was a great night – except the mixed up rooster that started crowing at 3:30. Oh well.