Posts Tagged With: Protesters

Day 83/164: Huatajataja to La Paz – 83km

Climbing 600 metres, down 700.

It was pretty cold in the morning when we woke up, so I set off wearing all warm clothes. When I got about 3 kilometres down the road I could see why it was so cold, there was snow on all the surrounding mountain ranges.

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Most of the way was a gradual up gradient, and a few road works. Past one road works was about 5 kilometres of corrugated surface, dust, and trucks and cars – not great for asthma!

At about 70 kilometres we had been warned that there was a road block where protesters had blocked off the road, but cyclists should be allowed through. When we got there, the first road block looked like nothing – just a few people sitting across the road. However after that there were about another 10 road blocks, about every 500 meters or so, each one bigger than the last. The protesters were ok with cyclists going through the blockades, but not vehicles. However the closer to the city the more militant they were becoming, and because of this, instead of riding last 20 kilometres in a convey, we all met at 90 kilometres and were taken in a bus to La Paz.

Coming down into La Paz

Coming down into La Paz

Crazy city, people and vehicles, gridlocked traffic, fumes, mini vans darting in and out. 1.5 million people in a small space, the altiplano above, and a valley below.

We could not park outside the hotel so had to take our bikes and bags up a steep street to the hostel. By the time I got up the street each time I was breathless (La Paz is 3,800 meters in altitude). Then we find out there is no lift in the hotel and I am on the 5th floor! More huffing and puffing and stopping a couple of times each time on the way up.

After showering and sorting out laundry etc I went to have a look at the city. It was chaotic, hard to move on the side walk for the crush of people, plus both sides of the pavement had street vendors selling their wares. I was amused to see that the zebra crossings had people in zebra suits marshalling/assisting people across.

people dressed up as Zebras at the Zebra crossings in rush hour traffic to help people across. Unfortunately not a good photo

Caption from Kaye: People dressed up as Zebras at the Zebra crossings in rush hour traffic to help people across, unfortunately not a good photo.

I bought some water, found a cash machine (the first 3 declined to take my card) and headed back to the hotel.

Later on I went to a curry place “Star of India”, that Lonely Planet said was pretty good. I had onion bhaji, which had a nice spicy sauce, chicken tikka masala (which was average), a really nice almond spice rice, and garlic nan that was not eatable: floury and hard. With a Bock beer which is Bolivian and much nicer than the other two I have tried so far. Plus a Bolivian Sauvignon Blanc which was pretty average. As always with Indian, I felt really full after.

Back to the hotel to sleep, and no alarm to set 😀

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 38/164: Loberintos to Limon (or not!)

The plan was we would ride the rest of yesterday’s ride and today’s planned ride. 171 kilometres, up 2,600 and down 2,250.

Rider's meeting on the otherside of the bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Rider’s meeting on the other side of the bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I set off at 6:30am not sure if I would make the day, but to get as far as I can. There are not big hills, just endless rolling hills and it is not to hot, so pretty good riding conditions for me.

On the road (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

At about 35 kilometres I saw the lunch truck heading back the way we had come from. I thought maybe we forgot something or maybe a rider is having problems, and I kept riding.

I got to the town Maccas that we were meant to stay at the night before, and climbed up quite a steep hill. At the top I see one of the TDA staff waiting for me. The route through town has changed as protestors have blocked off the road through town. Lunch is where we were going to camp the night before, and then plan is to go there and wait for an update.

As I rode through town I saw the army trucks all parked along the side of the road. The lunch truck had gone back to pick up one of the riders who was a long way behind the others (Kathy who joined us in Quito). TDA wanted to make sure all the riders and staff were on the same side of the road blocks. The only problem was the lunch truck had gone back without offloading all the food. I was the last rider to lunch and there was nothing to eat as the other riders had eaten the lot, and the lunch truck was not yet back. We were not able to go back into town either. We are in no danger, so long as we don’t try to cross blocked roads. Thankfully our way is going away from the road blocks.

The plan has changed due to the time delay at lunch. We are staying at 130 kilometres instead of 171, at Mendze at a fairground. This will reduce the climbing by 750 meters 🙂 for today!

I decided not to wait for the lunch truck to come back and that I would get something to eat on the way.

I was a bit nervous about the protester action, even though it was against the government (and we all have sympathy with the protesters) so I rode with another rider to camp. The ride was ok, up and down hills. I managed ok until the last hill where my legs turned to jelly. I had been riding faster than usual. I walked and rode up the last hill.

We stopped at a shop and had a cold beer, in case there was nothing at camp. The camp was a fairground. After sleeping in tent city the night before and being woken up by other riders, I looked for other options. Four of us camped up on a stage, which was way more peaceful.

Tent City (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Tent City (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I tried to ring Lizzy to wish her happy birthday but did not get hold of her, I did manage to leave her a message.

Tomorrow we are not sure how far we are going, but we are not going to try and do the rest of today and tomorrow. Tomorrow is already 2,410 climb, without trying to add on the 750 we did not climb today. Most likely we will catch up on day four which was going to be an easy day 850 up and 70 kilometre ride.

Dinner was rice, coleslaw and beef stew. Cristiano manages to find some pretty good camp sites at the drop of a hat. We have shelter, toilets (one shower) plus a shop selling chippies and beer. Pretty good considering we were staying somewhere else a few hours ago.

A typical sort of house here in Ecuador (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A typical sort of house here in Ecuador (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 37/164: Puyo to Macas (or not!)

The day sounded great 130 kilometres: 1,650 metres of climbing and 1,545 downhill, with mostly rolling hills rather than big climbs. Sue said the weather forecast was for no rain and a temp of 16 degrees which sounded good. Finally fingers crossed I am over the gastro :D. I set off from camp with the plan to take it easy and ride the whole day. There are 6 riders in the trucks due to gastro, and 2 in varying stages of gastro riding.

The dogs in Ecuador seem a bit more aggressive than Colombia, and at about 15 kilometres I had two come running off a property and take off after me. Luckily I was on a downhill and pedalled as fast as I could! Even so I felt the breath of one of them on my calf before I finally pulled away!

The riding was good, hills but up and down. Every now and then you would come to a random unpaved section. One of the riders hit an unpaved section unexpectedly and had to be picked up by the dinner truck as they buckled their wheel when they hit it.

As I was riding along I was thinking about getting to camp that night where we were told we had wifi. It’s my daughter Lizzy’s 26th birthday today (in NZ which is a day ahead), hopefully I can skype but if not at least leave a video Skype message and text.

The view is amazing, riding down a road whilst the Amazon jungle stretches into the distance on either side of you. It’s a “Pinch myself! am I really here!?” moment. How lucky am I to experience this.

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I see the sign that we had ridden 64 kilometres so only 11 kilometres to lunch and halfway through the ride. I’m feeling good. I come around a corner and there is bridge and halfway over it I see the dinner truck parked next to the lunch truck and a number of riders clustered around it. Oh no what’s happened? Hope no one is hurt.

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What’s on that bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I see the buses with Policia and Military marking on the sides. There are protestors between here and the planned camp. We are not allowed to go any further. The Policia and military have guns and riot gear. The protestors are not from the local villages, they are from around the country and are by all accounts pretty staunch. They are prepared to fight for the cause. Our sympathies are with them, the last thing any country needs is a president elected indefinitely (which is what the current president wants to bring into law). Cristinao (I have been spelling it wrong with a h) went and spoke to the Policia to see if we can get through but no! Not even locals are allowed to get through to their homes.

Riot police and soldiers (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Riot police and soldiers (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting to find out the plan

Waiting to find out the plan (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting to find out the plan

Waiting to find out the plan (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We are now at a campsite at 65 kilometres waiting to see what happens overnight! Hopefully we can get through tomorrow, if not we go back to Puyo. However there is no phone coverage and no wifi so no birthday message to Lizzy :(. I had a little cry and sleep in my tent, I know she will understand but still feels bad, especially when I thought I had sorted.

Over the bridge to the campsite (Photo: Sue's blog)

Over the bridge to the campsite (Photo: Sue’s blog)

The owner of the camp site was carrying his pet anaconda around for people to have photos with, luckily he did not come anywhere near me.

The snake is nearly as big at Kathy (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The snake is nearly as big at Kathy (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I think the owner is very pleased to have us, he has set up a bar, organized a walking tour to a spot of tourist interest (did not catch what it was), and fishing and then for a price he will cook your fish for you. Totally different ethos than hosteria el piguali (which I guess is the difference between staff who not share in the profits vs the owner of a place). I was going to go for a swim in the river, then I saw the sign “River snakes”! No river swim for me.

At the riders meeting, we found out the plan at the moment is to continue tomorrow, to finish today’s ride and tomorrow’s ride as well! 171 kilometres, up 2,600 meters, down 2,250 meters.

Dinner tonight was stewed sausages, pasta and nice crunchy broccoli.

Rider's meeting (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Rider’s meeting (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment