Written by Linus, posted by Lise:
Time to hunt for tires again, this time in the desert city of Oruro. Me, Drew, Rich and Sam went for a morning hunt for breakfast and tires while Lise got some well deserved rest and yoghurt stomach therapy in the hotel room.
Sam had found an address for what we now generally call moto street, the street with all the motorcycle repair and parts shop, so we strolled out in that direction. Once again the iOverlander helped us by pointing out a good breakfast stop on the way. Starting with breakfast was a good thing as the disappointment of finding that moto street wasn’t at Sam’s address is easier to handle on a full stomach.After asking a few guys working on the street we were given new directions towards what they called Moto Centro. This time the directions were actually correct and we found five or six motorcycle stores whereof only two seemed to be open. We found out from a guy in an oil shop that the rest of the stores would open “later”, a very useful piece of information.
In any case we had found the moto street so everything was as good as can be. We quickly found tires, compared some prices and went back to the hotel to ponder and check out. We collected Lise and checked out, rode back to the stores and after some price negotiations rode off with a new set for Sam and a new front tire for Lise strapped on the back. Next thing was gas, as Sam and Drew were pretty much running on fumes after yesterdays failure to fill up. We had two gas stations on the way out of town and luckily the first one was willing to fill them up, even though it was at gringo prices, about a dollar per liter.
All done we rolled out of the city around noon. We’d had a long discussion this morning about going to Sucre or not, wether to split up the group so some could go there and some directly south. Me and Lise were not to keen on another city and as it was out of the way a bit, it would cost about a week time wise. Drew wanted to go and Rich and Sam were either or, although the back road to Sucre looked like a fun ride. In the end the time loss made the group decide to stick together a bit more and head directly south towards Uyuni and the salt flats. Lise had found an interesting camp spot a bit off the highway beside a thermal river, and that became the goal of the day. We rode a few hours on the dusty desert highway, stopped in a little town for some supplies and lunch and continued on to the turnoff towards the camp site.
The road here quickly turned to dirt and loose sand. For Lise and Sam this was the first real encounter and we slowly made our way across. After a few kilometers the road got more stable and we rode through some small mud hut towns into the hills. Just before the camping site we had to cross a stream, and Lise decided to take a little mud sample. I say she took it fairly well this time.
After we got her up again I decided to take a detour and ride a little offroad up a hill. Halfway up I managed to hit a hidden big rock, got over it with the front wheel and landed on the tool tube leaving the front wheel in the air. And so it was that I did my first bike laydown on the trip accompanied by a loud “Yeeaah!” from my dear wife.
It was actually almost a relief as I had been waiting for it to happen and had started to worry that I had been collecting to have a really big crash at some point. As it was, the only physical damage done was a cracked tool tube, which was later “fixed” with the magic of duct tape.
Once up and running again we rolled in to the campsite and set up camp. The scenery was beautiful and the thermal river pretty warm indeed! Unfortunately it seemed many people had camped here and there was quite a lot of litter around, and for some reason a lot of diapers thrown on the ground at the outskirts of the site.
After setting up our tents we got a visit from an old man who lived in a few dirt huts about a kilometer away. We talked for a bit about the surroundings and after giving him some water he went back to his house.
It was quite windy, and after dinner when the sun went down it got pretty cold. We tried to hang out for a bit longer but soon we all got cold and retired to the warmth of the tents and the sleeping bags and called it a night.