On to Bolivia! (Salta (Arg.) to Samaipata)

After hitchhiking for one week with my friend Rocio, I got back to Salta. I had gotten a bit sick so it was great to meet some people in the park who were slacklining and who ended up inviting me to stay with them. Therefore, I could spent some more days in the city to recover.

I helped around the house renovating a room while everyday my throat hurted a little less and my voice came back bit by bit.

I didn’t really had an idea about my route. As I was going to make a loop with my mother and sister in the West of Bolivia, I ended up cycling towards the border at Aguas Blancas/Bermejo more to the East.

The road taking me there was awful. No hard shoulder, lots of traffic and uncareful drivers who don’t respect cyclists. I couldn’t enjoy at all and had to be super careful.

I took half a day off in the national park of Calilegua to hike a bit in the tropical rainforest.

But although the road was horrible, people kept hosting me beautifully as always…

And how exciting to be close to Bolivia! After spending eight months in Argentina and Chile, it was going to be nice to have some change of scenery!

I happened to cross the border on the 6th of August, Bolivia’s national holiday. Let the party begin!

I ended up in a small village where the people had gotten together next to the soccer field to watch some competitions, drink and dance. What a first great day…

Someone had also invited me to come stay with them in Tarija, the capital of the region, some 150 km further. The quiet road following a river through the jungle was absolutely beautiful.

After a one day stop in the city to fix some stuff and hang out with newly made friends, I started heading towards Samaipata, where I wanted to do a workaway (volunteering).

I felt motivated and wanted to make good progress. On the first day though, I crashed in a downhill on dirt road.

The nearest hospital was 35 km away, so I headed there. Luckily it was almost all down, because my left knee didn’t want to bend much.

At first, I was asked how I was going to pay and that they wouldn’t accept my travel insurance. But in the end, they really took great care of me. To top it up, the nurse filled in the name of her son on my form, making me use his insurance… So beautiful if you meet people who treat you as on of their own!

I searched a hotel to spent the night where I was offered a private room for the price of a dorm bed. Again! So nice!

I ended up staying there two days because of my knee not wanting to cycle much. It wasn’t too far to Villa Montes, where I would join the main road again, but it was surprisingly hilly and the road was under construction, which always means that it is in a bad state.

First night, I ended up camping where they had a small party at night. People sure like to drink here!

It seemed like I was never going to make it to Villa Montes. Someone had invited me there, but the road through the narrow canyon was just too dangerous to cycle at night, so I pitched my tent next to the road.

Finally back on the main road, I was surprised to see a small hard shoulder, not too much traffic and a nice landscape! Very nice change to Argentina!

As it goes with main roads they usually smell like dead animals and there are fewer encounters with people. Still I was for example lucky enough to pass a ceremony for the virgin of Urkupiña, where I was inmediatly offered beer and food.

I also got an invitation to stay in the next town. It wasn’t far, but with a few beers, it took a long time.

Just when I arrived with my contact, he was backing up his car. He did it way too fast and smashed into the wall, almost crushing his son. ‘thanks to god’, he told me, nothing happened. What a hypocrit thing to say when you’re just too drunk!

To make things worse, at 10pm they came to tell me I could’t stay after all and I had to move my tent outside their walls. What a strange day… By then, I had also gotten a fever which would make me do 30km average for the next two days. Great! Haha.

By now, I had also totally destroyed the front hub. It had been making an awful sound since I got to Bolivia, but now the bearings were totally worn out and it was braking me a lot.

So I searched another wheel, but turned out that they only sell 26″ around here. I only had 450 km to go though until Samaipata. As my mother and sister were coming over, they were bringing some spare parts.

Some nights were spend camping next to the police, some with families. I also learnt that people outside the villages are quite scared and won’t let you camp. Therefore I always searched a place in or close to a village.

I got to Samaipata one week earlier then my mum and sister, so I went to do a bit of volunteering helping out David who makes beer. The work itself wasn’t too interesting (making fruit juice, picking mandarines, washing bottles,…) but hanging out with the other volunteers, the great vegan food, sleeping in his old truck, the pretty area,…. sure made it worth it.

And then!!!! I went to pick up my girls at the airport!!! How exciting! We were planning to go around Bolivia by bus for three weeks.

I wasn’t used to travel with backpack and by public transportation.  It ended up being a very interesting experience! I sure have more ‘saddle sore’ sitting in a bus for 9 hours then cycling!

But all of this didn’t matter. I was reuninted with my family, and it was just so beautiful to be able to share some moments together after being separated for a year. There are no words to describe this really.

hiking around tupiza

roadtrip!

Check out the photoalbum with comments of our roadtrip to find out where we went!

Last photos of Argentina added here

And the photoalbum of Bolivia:

And the album of our roadtrip together