(written 11/14 @ 2PM) Yesterday was sick. Got up at 6:30AM and rolled out of Uyuni towards Potosi… I had heard it takes seven hours by bus, which typically means double that by moto. Started the day on reserve (fuel leak) with three gallons in my gallonero (gas can). Unfortunately the two gas stations in town didn't have gasolina until 10AM so I took off anyway.
Yeah, 205km of back roads in the middle of the mountains with minimal little villages and three gallons of gas… probably not the best idea in retrospect. I figured worst case I could bum some from someone driving by right? Three hours in I had climbed crazy hills in first gear (some where I had to get out and run up next to my jaumoto), dodged massive rocks, got stuck in sand, saw immensely beautiful terrain, and NEVER SAW ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Woops.
I kept stopping every 30km or so to put a bit more fuel in, but after the second stop I turned around and noticed my gas can had fallen over and was leaking everywhere! I lost at least a gallon, if not more… this was bad! I troopered on, found a couple very small villages without gas, then about five hours in I started hitting massive road construction with desvios. This was fun, waving at all the construction works and occasionally stopping to chat – as Rob said, driving a mototaxi in Bolivia is like driving a spaceship.
Eventually I rolled up to this little town on the top of a mountain with a tienda that said "se viende gasolina" (we sell gas) – hooray! I grabbed a 10 liter gas can, transferred it to my (almost empty) gas tank and (almost empty) gallonero. Then I soldiered on to Potosi!
Potosi was supposed to be a big part of the trip but I had to zoom through because of my timetable. I was surprised at how big it was though! Total time from Uyuni to Potosi (205km of bad roads): 8 hours. Filled up my leaking gas tank and headed towards Challapata (in retrospect I should have headed north, I think) – I thought this would be an easy 160km on paved roads, but it turned out to be nice paved roads UP AND DOWN CRAZY MOUNTAINS. My average speed was less than 20kmh on this section heh… the scenery was amazing though!
Around sunset I rolled through Challapata, determined to carry on. The guards at the peaje (toll booth) thought I was insane, but I had good cold weather gear and I wasn't too bad off. I started driving north and very shortly saw lights in the distance that were clearly a town – oddly, I didn't seem to get closer, but the lights got bigger. Eventually I realized I could see Oruro, which was 190km away! Wish I could've captured this in a photo… in any case, the roads were straight and easy, so I just checked out mentally, rocking out to the Crystal Method, Lady Gaga, and Mos Def cycling on my mp3 player. Eventually I rolled through Oruro, filled up my gas can and headed north again!
By around 10PM I saw these crazy thunderstorms on the horizon, with huge lightning flashes, and thought I should stop at a hostal or something… except I couldn't find one! Only little towns every 30-50km and nowhere to stay. Finally at 11:30PM I called it quits – pulled off a bit on the side of the road (so I wasn't obvious) and crashed out for the night under the beautiful stars again, listening to the soothing sounds of trucks rolling by. Actually got out the sleeping bag this time and I was cozy and warm all night!
Woke up at 5AM with the sunrise and realized I had parked about twenty feet away from a cemetary! Freaky. Made it through without any haunting though!