Now its time to head back south to get a flight home from BA June 19. What we found out about the still continuing road blockade is that they are protesting a lack of public transportation. The blockade started ironically on the same day that the new 250 million dollar cable car system from this area El Alto to the center opened. It transports 18,000 people an hour!
From La Paz going south on the 1 is construction all the way to Oruro, but this is only 220 km.
The next town is Challapata in 121 km more, but it is pretty sketchy, so that leaves a big ride all the way to Potosi at 535 km.
It was pretty windy at times, but at least it was mostly with us. Arriving here we ended up going up the same crazy steep stupid road as we did last time. Well at least we knew the way to the hotel from there.
Mike Waterman had suggested we visit the mint and we did. This is the Casa de Modena and you can only visit by going on a tour. It was pretty interesting, but if you had to choose I would go to the Santa Teresa Convent like we did the first time we were here.
Mules powered the early machines, then steam machines took over and these were finally replaced with electric presses.
There were all kinds of scales for weighting various metals. The strong boxes had very intricate keys and lock mechanisms.
There were also on display a number of silver art objects and a huge mineral collection.
Getting out of the city is a lot less traumatic then getting in and we had come from Uyuni last time and so finally we were on virgin road again.
The scenery is very different here from the high mountain pass and plateau from Uyuni. It is a very windy road going down from 4000m to 3500m and the temperature went from 10 to 18 degrees. We headed south to Tupiza where we spent our last 5 Bolivianos on gas and headed to the border at Villazon in 345 km. If you want to change money all the casas de Cambio are on the Bolivian side. We ended up changing USD at a corner store, as there are NO blue market traders on the Argentinian side. Arriving here at the border park on the bridge and to the right. Just ahead to the left is the Bolivian Aduana (where we got our import papers) so go here and cancel your temporary permit. They want your permit and passport. Then head across the road to the Bolivian Immigration where you get your passport exit stamp. The office next to this is the Argentinian Immigration. Here you fill in the tourist paper and get a passport entry stamp and permission for 90 days visit. They will of course want to see your reciprocity receipt. Now go back across the road to the Argentinian Aduana and get your temporary permit. Here they want your passport, title, and proof of insurance. Make sure you ask for 6 months for the bike if you need it and it much easier to get your stay extended then the bike.
Heading into town it was nice to know where the hotel and a good restaurant were already. Filling up with Argentinian gas was also a good feeling after crappy Bolivian gas.
Today we left 3700 m and ended up 200 km later at 2100 m. It was also very windy with it luckily mostly at our backs and with driving at 100 km/hours we made it with 3 liters per 100 km.
Thoughts on Peru and Bolivia.
The coast of Peru is sand, garbage, wind, and chicken farms. The towns north of Nazca all look post- apocalyptic and in fact in Chicalayo we thought we were in a Mad Max movie. The scenery and towns south of Nazca do improve and Tacna is quite nice. In the south it is much the same with the exception of Arequipa and Cusco. The garbage here is unbelievable and in huge contrast to the natural beauty.
Bolivia is another myth shattered. We were always sold gas without much issue. The people were universally nice to us and friendly. We were never hassled by police. That said this country also has a garbage problem. With the exception of Sucre, Potosi, and parts of La Paz it too looks like after Armageddon.
From the border we headed south 228 km to Purmamarca which, is a tourist enclave because of the beauty of the valley.
There is a nice walk here thru the valley of the colors.
From here we headed to Salta in 156 km for a 3- day stay to rest up and clean up.