Bottom Problems in Potosi

When me and my Danish/Swiss companion “Nedo” arrived to Potosi (4060m.s.l.), I just couldn’t sit down properly. My ass was just so torn out, that no Bolivian chair was good enough for parking my behind. Potosi is according to some sources the highest located city in the World, so when we left Chile we did expect some altitude effects. But not this heavy.

The four day- jeep tour from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) to Uyuni (Bolivia) cost almost excactly 100 euros plus the entrance to the national park (22euros). The tour included the transportation, accomodations for three nights and three meals each day. Our bicycles were dustying on the jeep’s roof, but we didn’t have to pay any extra for them. We were very excited the night before the tour…

But the day of the departure was a big time catastrophe. I woke up  that morning with a bad stomache ache, and had to visit toilets every 20 minutes. Nedo had a diarrhea for last days as well, but he was already getting slowly better. So when the tour organizators complained about our bicycle sizes at the meeting point, I was almost giving up and returning back to the hostel. No money return- comment changed my mind, and with a very unstable stomaches we managed to persuade the guys to fit our bikes to the bus which took us up to the Bolivian border/ waiting jeeps.

Before though we arrived to the border, we climbed back the mountain which I took the police ride from week before. So in 30 minutes we went from 2500m back to 4500metres, and you can guess what this did to my stomache. The minibus stopped at “I’m going to vomit” magic words, and I just jumped out to deliver my last dinner and breakfast. Other tour members closely observed from the bus windows how this poor Finnish guy just couldn’t handle the altitude (as they didn’t know that some virus destroyed my belly’s firewall ).

Looking back to the border crossing with Chile and Bolivia makes me laugh. Why? Well, imagine that a second after the minibus arrives to this out back frontier, two blond guys hops out and start running to the so called toilets, which was just a abandoned, rustying bus fifty meters away. After hiding ourselves behind this metal garbage, standing next to eachother we put our trousers down and made a very impressive, Wagner style  ass-concerto.

And it didn’t stop there. The coca leaves (legal in Bolivia) which I was adviced to chew by the locals,  I threw up just after five minutes  afront of the immigration office. Meanwhile Nedo was making sounds which -let’s say- wouldn’t be appropriate at the dinner table.

Truth is, that without Nedo’s help I wouldn’t have made it. He carried my panniers and my bike from the bus to the jeeps, fetch the stuff I asked him to fetch and carried me around as my body was too weak to walk without a helping hand.  Actually just before the jeeps left for Uyuni I wanted to return back to San Pedro, but I took the risk and crawled to our jeep.

Our Jeep had six persons. The driver and his wife/cook in the front seats, me and Nedo in the mid seats and two Danish girls in the back seats. Nice group, and it really didn’t take long before we got familiar with eachother as the farts, vomits and barfs are very good “ice breakers”.  During the tour  we enriched the spare time with quizzes, improvisations, riddles, frisbee and  sang almost every song which came on our mind.

Of course, before I could participate properly with the tour, I needed to fix my stomache. This took one whole day (super fast), so I missed the hot springs, volcanic steams and some beautiful lakes, but as you may know, there is no better feeling than getting better after you are sick, and having that first taste of soup/apple/candy in your mouth. So I wasn’t so dissapointed.

The second and the third day I was alreaedy feeling much better, so I could enjoy some nature wonders as well. Strange rock formations, awesome mountains and of course the World’s biggest salt flat were on the programme for these days. Also eating delicious pancakes, pizzas and chocolate cakes in a touristy restaurant in Uyuni felt as good as it may sound.

After the jeep tour we had one resting day before continuing on our bikes towards Potosi. My ass hadn’t fully healed yet from the Paso de Jama-crossing, but it was OK enough for two day ride- I convinced myself. We took a 15uero- pick up ride the first 20km to the closest village because the road was still unpaved and we both wanted to save our delicate rims (Nedo had also small crack in the rear rim). Then we just packed our bikes and strated cycling on a fresh pavement towards Potosi. We knew that the road wouldn’t be paved all the way, but one motorbiker told me it’s 95% paved.

We had tailwind, motivation and perfect road until the first village. I broke my speed record (70km/h) and it took us only 2,5 hours to cycle this 60km stage. Then the road went hilly and wasn’t paved for next 25km so it took us the same amount of time to get to a paved road again. 10km after the second paving started we arrived into a nice looking village and called it a day. There we got a dinner and a very primitive accomodation (no toilets whatsoever) for 2,5 euros each. The cheapest deal in my lifetime.

The second day we had 95km to Potosi, and we didn’t think it would be any problem to reach it before dark. We heard the pavement will be all the time except for 10km. Also the wind was favourable so we were sure we would make it without bigger effort.

Wrong wrong wrong.

For 2,5 hours we had first uphill, then bad gravel road and to the end a stream crossing for which I had to wait for a pick up ride to take me over this ice cold water.

The next 2,5 hours the road was again uphill, then 3km of gravel (in a incredibly beautiful canyon), then uphill again, then 5km of bad gravel and uphill together, and finally reaching a small town where we had some refreshments.

It was three o’clock when we left the town and we had 45km to Potosi. Sunset would be around six o’clock and for safety reasons it’s better to enter the city in a day light. 45km in three hours is not so bad, especially if you are told that the road will be one uphill and then just a downhill (once again).

Ok, the last 45km to Potosi was as follows: uphill 5km, downhill 10km (I broke my speed record again- 72km/h) uphill 10km, downhill 10km uphill 10km. The last 6km of the uphill was already in Potosi, with big aggresive dogs and dark setting down. We had no energy left but we pushed our bikes steep uphill to the centre area and found a cozy hostel. When I tried to sat down, my ass was burning.

Now, after three resting days things are bit better again, so tomorrow we try to continue towards La Paz.

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5 Comments

  1. J
    Posted May 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very interesting story, as always. Thanks for your inspiring words…

    Hope you’ll get your bottom better.

  2. Tadeas Priklopil
    Posted May 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    stipavi zadek?

  3. Aldi
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Jaahas, haisiko kakka 😉

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