I really missed Larry today. Maybe it was because it was Valentine’s Day and he is so far away. Maybe it was because a necessary last minute bathroom stop separated me from the group departing the maze called La Paz, Bolivia. Maybe it was both. Anyway, I was in tears after missing a turn and getting lost while navigating the steep, cobblestone, streets during rush hour. One ways always seeming to be going the wrong way thwarted my attempts to get back on route. Finally, an illegal U-turn got me going the right direction and twice I asked police officers, “Donde este el Autopista?,” where is the expressway? Finally I was back on track.
Today’s emotional roller coaster found me feeling so alone. As the only woman riding solo on this trip, without my riding partner and best friend, Larry, I was feeling as though I don’t fit in with this male dominated group. (Note: My doctor cleared me to ride again and I will fly to Bogota on 3/5. -Ed.)
Fortunately, I caught up with some group members and had something different to be concerned about – our Lake Titicaca ferry crossing.
Ferry is way too generous a term to describe the home made rafts that would carry us across the narrowest part of the lake. Fashioned with loose plank decks and big gaps between boards made for an exciting 15 minute crossing. No life jackets, no tie downs for the bikes, and only a small outboard motor powered the boat. Our leader, Kevin, seems to eat this stuff up. I guess I do too, within reason! While I was riding off, a wave hit the boat, nearly tossing me to the right where my foot would have gone between the boards and likely have led to a serious ankle injury. Expletives and a look of terror in my eyes were the only damages.
Crossing into Peru was very slow due to a new computer system for issuing customs permits for our bikes. Several expedition members had take a side trip for lunch in Copacabana, Bolivia, only to find afterward that the Bolivian border needed for exiting to Peru had just closed for a 1 hour lunch break. During their wait, heavy rain moved in. Fortunately, I was 1 ½ hours ahead of them, minimizing my wet riding. We saw fish farms out in the lake and vegetable gardens growing along the shoreline.
Puno, a Peruvian city on the NW shore of Lake Titicaca, could win the award for the pothole capital of the world. As though maneuvering through a mine field, we stood on our foot pegs for nearly ½ hour weaving around 1000s of water filled, tire swallowing, potentially rim bending, challenges. I either must have a passion for excitement or be a “sick puppy,” or both since I was all smiles after conquering that extremely challenging ride to our hotel.
Our hotel is beautiful and overlooking the lake. Valentine treats and elegant rooms were awaiting our arrival.
14-Feb La Paz(Bolivia) – Puno(Peru) 200 miles
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