nancy's blog

A 3 day tour of the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia - a salt desert

Texture of the salt on Salar de Uyuni
Texture of the salt on Salar de Uyuni (View on flickr)

Our 3 day tour around Bolivia´s famous Salar de Uyuni, a massive salt desert, is best described by photos. Because of the difficult terrain, high elevation, remoteness, and extreme cold, we decided to explore this amazing region of southwestern Bolivia by 4x4 vehicle. We went with a tour company called Andes Salt Expedition . They provided all the transportation, food and lodging and expert interpretation in English about the surreal desolate geography we encountered along the way. They delivered what they promised and at a fair price.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Riding around Lake Titicaca and into Bolivia

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We rode from Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia mostly along Lake Titicaca where the high-altitude lake reflected silver sunlight off the deep blue-green water. During the ride we saw villages harvesting reeds to make into mats, individuals making fishing nets, groups of people preparing the earth for the planting of potatoes, with mostly human power or oxen, but a few had the benefit of using tractors. The first night out of Puno, we outraced a tremendous storm and dove for cover in Ilave after riding 35 beautiful, flat miles. It was so good to be in a hotel room, dry, and safe from the blasting winds and pounding rain which lasted for most of the late afternoon and evening. The next day when we awoke the sun was shinning and the skies were clear. We rode another 49 miles enjoying vast open altiplano which was a wide open valley of dry flat fields. The closer we got to the Bolivian border the more we saw sheep and llamas grazing in the open valley. We even stopped for a photo shoot at the market in Juli where the livestock market was full of sheep and llamas. I saw live sheep hauled up on to the roofs of mini buses and lashed down. I watched as they stuffed live llamas inside the buses. I found it amusing to see a big bunch of live giant sheep on top of a van and a heads of llama sticking out an open window as the buses called colectivos drove past us. I was glad I was not one of those animals.

We stopped for the night in the last town in Peru called Yunguyo before we crossed into Bolivia. To our delight the town was celebrating the fiesta of its patron saint.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Teetering on the edge! Help us with our decision

Update: See what we decided here.

We need your help! Please vote and help us decide what should be our next step.

After two years and 3 months of traveling by bicycle, we are tired and want a change or need a change. Our not-so-young bodies are complaining of the day and day out pounding of the roads of South America. But more than that our not-so-young minds are so full of what we've seen and done they don't seem to want any more. We have pedaled over 21,000 kilometers (13,000 miles) and bused, boated or hitched another couple of thousand kilometers. We have climbed many 4000 meter (13,000 foot) passes, pedaled to incredible beaches, passed months after months of farmlands filled with scattering of adobe homes and animals, sweated in the deserts, swatted the swarms of nasty bugs, visited cities, towns, tiny villages, churches, ancient ruins, museums and talked with thousands of people from many different walks of life. The turbulent economy has rocked us all. Even though we are in Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, the financial situation in the US has affected our travel funds.

We are turning to of our loyal followers for support and advice in our moment of need. Please write to us and let us know what your advise to us would be.

Here are our options, as we see them:

End the trip here in Bolivia and head back home.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

The Islands of Lake Titicaca

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Demonstrating knitting at Taquile
Demonstrating knitting at Taquile (View on flickr)

Lake Titicaca is a massive lake, the highest navigable lake in the world at an elevation of 3,812 meters (12,507 feet). Both Peru and Bolivia share this deep blueish-green lake with several islands on the Peru side and several on the Bolivia side which are inhabited by indigenous people who mostly speak Quechua and Aymara, two languages that date from the Inca empire. A visit to the islands is an important part of visiting this natural wonder of the world.

We took a two day boat trip to three islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca: Uros, Amantaní and Taquile. We first visited the Uros Islands, which in reality are dozens of floating artificial islands. Each island is made of reeds which are bound together and maintained by the inhabitants. People actually live on these small floating islands in reed houses. Not only are the houses and the islands themselves made of reeds but they make boats out of them too. Is is fascinating to see all the different designs of boats made solely of reeds. The people of the islands used to make a living from fishing, but this has replaced by tourism on most of the islands. The women wear incredibly bright neon-colored clothes which glow against the yellow reeds and blue lake and pastel-colored sky.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Riding the dusty Rio Mantaro from Huancayo to Ayacucho

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Nancy on Huancayo to Ayacucho road on Rio Mantaro
Nancy on Huancayo to Ayacucho road on Rio Mantaro (View on flickr)

A very dusty ride
A very dusty ride (View on flickr)

We have been riding in the low desert river valley lands at about 7000 feet elevations. The last 4 days have been been very, very hot, dusty, remote, and buggy. We are very dirty. We are taking time out of today's ride to clean the grit out of our teeth, escape form the high temps. and enjoy the pleasures of civilizations for half of a day in Huanta. A bed, a shower, Internet and food other then pollo frito (fried chicken) and arroz (rice).

It is an amazing land. We dropped down 3000 feet and everything changed from cold to hell. It reminds me of some of the landscape near Tucson, Arizona where various cacti adorn the barren landscape. I am amazed how people can eek a living out of land so barren, devoid of resources and forgotten by everyone including the government. This land once was terrorized by a group of rebels called the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) but they have long ago abandoned this place and left it to the vultures. Very few buses, cars or trucks passed by us in this rugged, dusty, forsaken place. The land is too dry to support sheep but we did encounter shepherds herding goats along with pigs, a few cows, and donkeys. It is so strange to see women in skirts, blouses, fancy hats, a babies slung on their backs tending to their herds and knitting some kind of clothing or such. The women all through Peru knit. They stand or sit and just knit.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Celebrations and Ruins in Huánuco Pampa

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Results of ground turning competition at Huanuco Viejo
Results of ground turning competition at Huanuco Viejo (View on flickr)

Visiting wonderful archaeological sites along the way has been one of the many joys of traveling through the Americas. Occasionally it requires a good hard hike to get there. We had no intention of visiting the Peruvian ruins of Huánuco Pampa (also known as Huánuco Viejo) but while we were riding through La Unión, the local pride in this beloved site got our curiosity going. We could have taken a 5am bus up to the 3700 meter plateau but we didn't want to get up that early, we needed some exercise on our day off from riding, and it's far more direct to walk, so we headed up the narrow canyon to visit old Inca Ruin, Huánuco Pampa.

I was very impressed on how treacherous this route was but it was a major walking thoroughfare for the local people. Slippery rubble lined the route the first first few hundred meters. It seemed not to bother the locals as they knew this was the shortest route from the high pampa flat plateau down to the town of La Unión 700 meters below. It was a beautiful sunny morning and just the right temperature for this adventure. We greeting everyone as we passed by. "buenos dias!" to the shepherds and the cowboys leading the horses and donkeys laden with recent harvested goods. "Hola" to the school children riding donkeys or hiking down with plastic backpacks on their tiny backs. "Como esta" to the woman riding the horse 6 hours from her farm high in the mountains. The most amazing was the very ancient woman who trekked this arduous route with her cane.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

We are not the only riders! Check this out - Dominic Gill

Dominic in Tierra del Fuego

We are not certainly the only ones who are riding or have ridden their bicycle from the most northern part of North America to the most southern tip of South America. When we started this trip over two years ago we met a young man, Dominic Gill, in Whitehorse, who was riding a tandem by himself so he could pick up riders along the way. He recently finished this incredible journey, in the middle of the frozen Patagonian winter! (By the way: We decided a long time ago that if we're running late to get to Patagonia before the winter sets in we'll take a bus to speed things up!)

Here is a short interview with him on CNN:  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Riding down to Huánuco, A rough day

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Love in his face - above Chavinillo
Love in his face - above Chavinillo (View on flickr)

Note: We've posted our favorite pictures from northern Peru here or as a slideshow.

Yesterday we rode about 45 miles up to 4000 meters (13,120 feet) and then down to 1900 meters (6232 feet) on a nasty, loose, difficult dirt road. Randy crashed on the downhill. He scraped up his arm and hip and bruised a rib. I was behind him and when I came up to him he was down on the ground holding his hip, right on an edge of the road 5 feet from a big, big drop. He was bruised up yesterday but feeling better today. Seeing him lying there scared me. By his position, I thought he broke a hip or a leg. All the rest of the day I was upset.

Snowcapped nevados up from Chavinillo
Snowcapped nevados up from Chavinillo (View on flickr)

And Randy got his favorite bike tool (a Topeak Alien multi-tool) taken or lost, probably in the midst of a crowd at a fiesta in a little tiny pueblo at the top of the pass. Everybody was pressing around us. We don't know for sure that somebody took it then, but it was gone right then. He had used it earlier that morning. We have to find a replacement for some of those tools now.

And Randy lost his sunglasses somewhere, so was riding all day with no protection against the immense dust of the road.

The dogs, who are always very protective of their territory, seem much more aggressive then usual.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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