Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bolivia / Argentina

Bus crash, lucky no injuries
young entrepreneurs making money for school 

what thread?
The Salar.
Today the 25th. Of March we are just back from a 4 day tour of the Reserva Eduardo  Avaroa park and the Salt Flats.
The tour is with a 4x4 jeep with driver and cook and 4 passengers. As Brenda and Hendrick arrived on Thursday nite late we booked the trip to start on Saturday.
Left Tupiza at 8 am. And drove through wonderful valleys and parks. Saw lots of lamas and vicunas and passed green Lake, white Lake, and red Lake, and the water of these lakes really has that colour.  The most impressive were the salt flats and the salt Hostal, there also is a salt Hotel but that is not included in the tour as it is quite expensive. Tuesday morning at 5 am. We walked up Isla Incahuasi to see the sunrise and have breakfast on the salar. Driving an the salt looks and feels the same as on a frozen lake. On our return to Tupiza we met Patricia, Clement and Merlin who are part of the Indispensables Team. The only ones missing were Manfred and Monika and the team would have been complete. Funny to meet up after more than two months. Today March 26th. We crossed in to Argentina, arrived at the border at 9am. And were told that the Visa fee of $150.00 can only be paid online. So off we went to find Internet, after being sent in all directions we bumped in to the Argentine Consulate and no, you can not pay the fee there, only online, and no we could not use their computer as their Internet is barely working. We finally did find Internet and marched back to the border with our printed receipt and after another 3 hours were in Argentina. The roads are better here and everything is cleaner. Tomorrow we will go to Salta and do some shopping to fill the larder.
Hugs to all
Norbert and Greti
Isla Incahuasi

an Island in the middle of the salt flats


Flags of the countries who participated in the Dakar Race, we wrote a message on our Canadian Flag

Half of the Indispensables

Yes someone lives here

Good food, good setting

monument made of salt

Friday, March 21, 2014


la Paz.
We spent 5 days in La Paz, did some sight seeing and shopping . Went to the valley of the moon and the views from the top are phenomenal.
We also biked the Ruta de la Muerte, one of the worlds most dangerous roads.  If it had not been for the rain it would have been even better. Norbert got though without wipeout and I only wiped out 3 times. I must remember to look where I do want to go and not where I do not want to go. I should know that by now. We left Brenda and Hendrick in La Paz asBrenda had a little spill as well and broke a tooth so had to see a dentist in La Paz to get a crown on the broken tooth. We will meet up with them in Tupiza to do a Salar tour of 4 days.we traveled from La Paz to Potosi and from there to Tarija. Our map showed us a paved road from Tarija to Topiza, but when we asked for directions we were told that this road does no longer exist and we had to backtrack 50 km. to what should have been a good road. It took us 6 hours to do 144 km. and white knuckle all the way. Again one lane only with big trucks and at times barely wide enough for our Van let alone big trucks.
Arrived in Tupiza at 6pm. and found a Hostal with parking for the Blue Wonder. 
Met up with Pascal and Florent from Montreal who are part of the Indispensables team. It is nice ti meet after two months. Had a nice breakfast with them, and now thy are on the hunt for used tiers. Hoping that Brenda and Hendrick will arrive tomorrow so we can book our tour for saturday.
Hugs to all.
Norbert and Greti

lots of fruit but no vegetables

entrance to the town of Oruro

Friday, March 14, 2014

La Paz

Puno to Copacabana and on to La Paz.
The hotel at Puno was very nice, one Dutch camper with Marco Hanneke and Kids were there as well, thy started their trip from Argentina and will do Peru and hopefully back to Brazil for the world series. Safe travels to you.
As we were strolling though Copacabana we met up with Hendrick and Brenda, we were both surprised to meet again. We staid in the parking of Hotel Gloria. The town was a mess as Carnival had finished the day before, and the whole town smelled of recycled beer. The border crossing  was the simplest so far, from the Peru side thy could not be bothered to come out and just stamped our papers. On the Bolivian side it was 5 minuted emigration and 10 minutes import of vehicle and a small donation to the Bolivian custom and we were on our way. Gas is a problem here.
As it is heavily subsidized by the government thy do not want to sell it to foreigners.   
Only the YPFB stations will fill your tank and charge 6.0 bolivar per litre. At the other stations thy might charge you 9.0 Bolivar and YPFB  gas stations are not many, So we will have to be diligent about filling up when possible. Crossed from Copacabana with a primitive ferry, if I had not seen a bus board the "ferry" and cross to Tiquina I  would not have dared to go on. Arrived in La Paz and what a stunning city it is, also the surroundings are extra ordinary, Our GPS got us lost again and we ended up right in the centre of town and there even the GPS was lost. We asked a taxi driver if he knew where the Overland Hotel is and to our surprise he said yes and he will guide us there when he is finished with his ride in 20 minutes.
He returned in 10 minutes and told us it would cost  50 Bolivar as the hotel is one hour away. It was a 45 minute ride through the city and suburbs but we got to the right place. Even the receptionist was amazed that a taxi driver knew the hotel. There is a Belgian motor home here and today Hendrick and Brenda arrived. We went in to town to buy SOAT (mandatory insurance) and inquire about a bike tour on the Ruta de la Muerte and will do it on Saturday.
Big Hugs to all
Norbert and Greti
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Importing Pepsi

Super Ferry
Just a random checkpoint

All paperwork done by hand

Yes a bus fits
Norbert and the Ladies

Valley of the Moon

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Devils molar mountain
Market outside La Paz

Colourful Busses

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lake Titicaca

We spent one week in Cusco, did get some needed things done, me to the dentist and stocking up on supplies, I found a good french bakery and now my freezer is full of french bread. Norbert did get the brakes done and a wheel alignment and also oil change. We had to go back to the break shop to get the new breaks adjusted again, left Sunday morning for Puno, lake Titicaca  360 km. on a very good highway. It actually feels strange to drive on a smooth surface again. After 60 km. Norbert noticed that the breaks were overheating so we pulled in to a gas station and Norbert jacked up the car and adjusted the breaks himself. After 3. Hours and a lot of sweat  and not so nice language and a few attacks by the resident turkey we were on the road again. Driving for another 80 km, the front end started vibrating and Norbert knew it was the universal joint which was repaired awhile back, lucky Norbert had a spare so again we pulled in to a gas station and the attendant lend us some tools and Norbert replaced the part. 1.5 hours later we were on our way again. 
50 km later we were stopped by the police to check if we have SOAT ( insurance) we do so off we went only to be pulled over a little later by the same cops as one of them had noticed that we do not have a front licence plate (Norbert forgot to put it behind the windshield)  possibly a 430.00 Soles fine to be paid in Cusco. We ended up paying 50.00 Soles and the officer even helped glue the licence plate to the windshield and we were on our way. It is amazing how fast the kilometres go when you have good roads. I think I have forgotten what normal driving is. We are now at Lake Titicaca in the parking for RV's of the hotel Posada del Inca.
Hugs to all.
Norbert and Greti.
Territorial Turky

Painting in the museum of Puno

This is the other side of Puno not so nice

Combination traditional and new

fixing the driveshaft with almost no tools

Norbert with three German Lady's

Ingrid and Felipe from Chile were on the boat with us.

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Fixing the breaks.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
We drove from Cosco to Ollantaytambo the next morning we took the train to Aguas Calientes and from there the bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu. 
We got there before 9am. So no crowds jet and a blue sky so all the peaks were visible. What an experience, I have seen lots of pictures and films about Matchu Picchu but to walk the ground and be surrounded by all these peaks and ancient buildings is an experience of its own and hard to describe. Mabel your item is safe behind a rock. After lunch we had a guided tour but we all knew a lot about the place. We all got a little sunburn and in the afternoon we had heavy showers, got back to our campers at 9pm. And today we are back in Cusco. I have a s
Brenda and Hendrik from Salmon Arm

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Another item off my bucket list

Plaza de Armas in Agua Calientes
ensitive tooth so went to the dentist, apparently quite a common occurrence at this altitude.  
I am now on Amoxidel and hope to have no further problems. Norbert took the BlueWonder to have the brakes checked and possibly find someone who can do an alignment on her. The brakes are now replaced and the alignment done, we will stay one more day in Cusco and then head south.
Big Hug to All
Norbert and Greti

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Gabriel on the rite hails from Switzerland and the Inca princess from Machu Picchu

mirror pools

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At the entrance to Machu Picchu


March1st. 2014
Drove from Hanuco to Tarma.
Tarma is the pearl of the Andes, and from a distance and in the dark it looked very nice. In the morning it was a different story, but we did get all the supplys we needed. Manfred got his air filter and Norbert bolts to reinstall the running board.  Stocked up on groceries and we were off at noon and drove to Mariscal Caseres. There are a lot of road closures and the wait is usually about one hour. Perfect time for Norbert to chat to the other drivers, and without fail a show of the camper. The next day we drove through Huancayo to Ayacucho. Again bad roads and washouts. So 180 km. took us 8 hours. On the way we met Tobias from Portland Oregon on his bicycle. He is touring Peru by bike and sometime other transportation. We stopped and invited him for lunch. What a brave young man. Stopped at the first wheel alignment place as the Blue Wonder needed an alignment. We asked about a Closed parking and were told we could stay right here, the lady took me to the market were I got wonderful fruit and vegetables. Also had use of her washing machine which was badly needed after we worked two days in the mud.
Today carnival started here so we went in to town, but it was very noisy and tons of people, the parade was to start at 10 am. And by 1pm. It finally started. Very colourful.
Drove from Ayacucho to Abancay, a total of 400 km. and it took us 12 hours of driving. The first 300 km. were paved but the last 90 km. were switchbacks and potholes. Shortly before Abancay an older farmer waved us down thinking we were a micro bus so we gave him a ride to town, he knew a hotel with a big parking lot and guided us there, that was a big help as by now it was very late.
We are now in Cusco, did all the arrangements for the trip to Machu Picchu. Not that easy,  as we can not drive up to Aguas Calientes as the bridge washed out one month ago. So the only way is by train. Cusco is a wonderful place and more time is needed to explore. We are at the only campground in Cusco and had a hard time finding it, our GPS always wanted to send us off a cliff and the streets here are very narrow and steep. None of the taxies knew where the place was and we only had co-ordinates and no address. At the end a tour operator guided us there.
We were surprised to see a BC  Camper Van there which was shipped from Panama at the same time as ours. Hendrick and Brenda are from Salmon Arm BC and will join us on the trip to Machu Picchu. 
Laundry in Ayacucho

Tobias from Oregon.

There always is a way to pass

Norbert chatting with the drivers while we wait for the road to open.

loking down on Cusco