Thursday, September 18, 2008

Obstacles along Santa Cruz







The best moment in Samaipata is with Camilio’s family. We stayed in their guest house of only 4 rooms and we are the only guest. There is a living room where the family watched TV and sit around. Every night we would sit there and I would drink Bolivian wine with Camilio and his wife while the kids and Sam watched TV. I was able to communicate with Camilio because he spoke little English and I spoke little Spanish. The 3 kids were wonderful and memorable. How I wish I had kid that grown up and very pleasant.

Leaving Samaipata is sad as the family is so nice but we have to move on to Santa Cruz. Travelers warned us about the road to Santa Cruz and it gets more dangerous when entering the city itself.

Obstacle #1

Road blockage was done by felling a tree cut by the protester. I stopped and recce the road of advancement. Only way is to squeeze Hope Too under the fallen tree where it formed a low triangle hole. As I walked back to Sam and Hope Too, I heard cracking sound from above. There were about 10 people on top of the hill along the road and they had managed to crack a stone, size of 4 cars and made it fall onto the road to form road blocks. At the moment of falling, there are civilians walking on foot along the road and they ran as fast as they could. I was worried. Making the execution fast, I rode to the triangle hole, unpacked all the panniers and squeeze thro. Hope Too’s new windscreen is too tall for the triangle hole and I try to push the plastic thro the obstacle, meanwhile watching for the people above. We do not want to crush by the fallen rocks.

While squeezing thro, there were too much unexpected branches from the fallen tree holding on to Hope Too and we are unable to push thro. It slanted sideway causing the whole weight leaning on me while I was standing on a lower ground. Sam was behind trying to push Hope Too but got scratched by the tree trunk. Constantly we were watching the protesters above. A man, half drunk, came to help us to push over and we succeed. We thanked the man and rushed to gather our panniers and bags, installed them and zoomed off. After 2 minutes of riding I stopped and attended to Sam’s bruises.







Obstacle #2

As we were approaching the state boundary, buses were queuing up along the road. I knew it would be another road block set by the protesters. There is only a bridge linking the roads together and there are 2 trucks, about size of 40feet container trucks, parked across the road on each side of the bridge. Only pedestrians and bicycle could go through. Hope Too was slightly obese so we took off the side and top pannier to squeeze thro. That was an easy one.







Obstacle #3
Riding along the road parked with cars and trucks along, counting up to about 100 in numbers, we reached the ‘king’ of the blockages. The road was busy as there were many people walking because there isn’t any vehicle able to pass thro. The protesters set up soil, oil barriers and wood for the blockage. I walked nearer to view the obstacle. The only route for Hope Too was blocked by a very long piece of log lying across. All I need to do is to move the log about 2 feet away from the current position for the path I wanted. I squat down, held the end of the log with 2 hands and tried very hard but it was too heavy for me. While I was trying to move the log, the protester at the other side of the road stood up and shouted at me. Oh no… they are walking towards me. It doesn’t smell nice. One of the local advised me not to cross or move the obstacle then he showed me action of stone throwing and boxing. I walked to the protesters, waving at them, showing them my Chinese face, asking for permission to pass but unsuccessful.

It was about 1300hrs and we were hungry for lunch. We are stucked along with the 100 vehicles along the road. I decided to ride back till the bridge to see if there is any chance of side road but: negative. We stopped to check our ‘tourist’ map and GPS for any trails to flank the obstacle but: negative. Some locals advised us to use the left path available that travel along the river. Some advised us to use the right path that skirt thro the mountains. The left path seems reasonable as the river is flowing to my objective but the road is awful. If we use this route, we are bounded by the area between the river and the main highway, which choice of road would be lesser in this area. The right path seems going into the mountains and we took it.

Mountains after mountains, hoping the road will turn into the correct direction, it seems that we are traveling backwards and drifting further from the objective (from my GPS). I tell kept telling myself that after the end of this hill the road will be turning eastwards but negative. We were hungry and water supply was limited to 500ml in our drinking bag. The village road is narrow like jungle trail often lifeless. After 3 hours of village dirt road we reach a closed gate thinking that we would need to u-turn all the way back to the bridge 3 hours away to use the river road. Sam came down and unlocks the gate. There was a truck approaching in the opposite direction. We asked the driver “Santa Cruz this way? Yes?” and he replied with a nod and told me to turn right in the next junction. Phew… we are in the correct track and looking at my GPS, the road has already started to go east bound. We stopped to have lunch by eating OREO BISCUIT. I did not eat much because the biscuit would make me thirstier.

It was about 4pm after biscuit lunch and I start Hope Too. When I pressed the starter ignition, the battery gone off!

As Homer Simpson always yelled: dooghhhhhh!!!!!!

We are in the village, like a jungle without supplies. We are hungry and there is no sign of life here. 2 more hours to sunset and Hope Too ran out of battery!!!!!!!!



……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………

I patiently listen to the problem again by switching on and off the keys and try to start. It seems that the new starter relay that I had replaced in Pakistan is not clicking. Then I check if there is any lose connections. I realized that whenever I try to crank Hope Too, the positive connector of the battery had some sparks. Then I took out the connector and saw some corrosion. Taking it out and cleaned it, Hope Too re-live again.
We rode for half hour and finally we reached perfect asphalted road. We are in the new state now and this state, Santa Cruz is a rich one. The road is flawless and Hope Too was able to cruise at 110km/hr.

When we reached the town, it seems like we have entered a new world. Everything was in order. Shops everywhere. Expensive cars and big motorbike. Hope Too was little bit shy here because he’s quite dirty when the other cars and bike stopped before the traffic lights, turning their head to see why this dirty buffalo is doing in our town. Life is normal here for everybody, unlike what we hear from people telling us about the situation when we are in Samaipata. The news is always very discouraging but check it out, use yahoo news and search under Latin America, Bolivia is under the top most topic this few weeks.

From Samaipata to Santa Cruz the distance on map was 121km and it is all good asphalt. On paper we should reach the destination the most 2 hours if we are traveling at 60km/hr BUT we used 6 hours and total of 210km to reach Santa Cruz.

Now we had withdraw money from the bank, get our camera repaired, Brazil visa clarified, our clothing washed, Hope Too had his engine oil change and both of us had a good rest, it all happen in this town named Santa Cruz, it think it means Saint Cross in English.

2 comments:

Nazri (TTMB) said...

U lose weight MiaMia. Take care and Godbless you and wifey.

As we grow older, as we travel further, we do think of our past and appreciate it more. (But I still think Mr Tan our old conductor sucks big time)

But that does not mean the future is empty. It is there for us to EXPLOIT it!

When you come home, you will be a stronger man, definitely.

Ride on!

Anonymous said...

AH goh,

loOk forward.. dun keep thinking abt the past.. forget those unhappiness stuff.. and enjoy ur RTW. but rem.. be safe... we wan to See u back hm in one piece.. send my greeting to ur wife too.. cheer...54 Victor... hehe