Made of warped wooden boards and not much else, this “ferry" took about a half hour and cost us only 5 Bolivianos a person ($0.72) but you get what you pay for. It's not a very far journey, and I think it'd just be easier to build a bridge, but it was a great introduction to the reckless and haphazard adventure that Bolivia was going to be. We even passed another ferry along the way with a guy in it who was literally bucketing out his flooded ferry one bucket-full at a time. I was thankful that we stayed afloat the whole ride.
So off we went to tackle the Death Road, but on the way, our horn went out (for the millionth time, it keeps doing that despite all of Tim's “fixes"). And as a semi-truck came barreling around the turn toward us, missing us by just a foot, Tim said to me, “Wouldn't it be horrible if we died on the road right before Death Road?"
Well, I now know the answer to that. This little squiggly dirt road that goes along Bolivia's northern foothills near the Amazon might be a great ride during the dry season, but in December during the rainy season, it becomes a muddy slosh pit. Talk about Death Roads, this Route 25 was one of the worst we've been on.
And then on our way to the village of Licoma, Tim suddenly pulled over and yelled, “The front tire's flat!" Sure enough, it was completely flat and we were riding on the rim. But what's strange was that after much inspection, we could not find the puncture wound. And what's worse, we definitely could not pump it up again with our little travel pump.
For once, things worked out better than I had expected, and everything went to plan. I got dropped off at a tire shop, the guys there pumped it back up and came to the conclusion that nothing was wrong with it. Maybe it went flat because a small rock had gotten between the rim and tire, maybe the pressure was too low, who knows.
I was able to pay the tire man's neighbor for a ride back up into the mountains where Tim was waiting with the immobile bike. We got the tire back on, said farewell to our new friends, and made our way to Licoma relieved and ready for a good night's rest.
As predicted, the morning after was muddy mayhem, and it became a slip-n-slide down the mountain. I have to say that Tim did such a great job keeping us upright, he shall forever be known in my book as the Mud Master.
And there was hope on the horizon. We decided to turn off of Route 25 as quickly as we could, and went through a stunning valley around the town of Quime before coming to pavement. And from there on out it was smooth sailing until the city of Cochabamba, where we met with our Bolivian friend, German.
From Cochabamba we spent two days riding lovely roads to the city of Sucre: they were paved and wound through the rocky countryside of spring green scrubland. There were two problems with this road: the trash, and the amount of women and children begging along the sides. It broke my heart to see them waving and shaking their hands and hats at every car that passed, and I was shocked to see so much destitute poverty around every turn. There were hundreds of them in the cold, in the rain, and in tattered clothes. I know that Bolivia is making advancements, but for many people, it has leaps and bounds to go.
We wish you all a happy holidays and a Happy New Year, and I hope it will be just like in your dreams.