Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alex crashes on his motorcycle, Ridiculous River Crossings in Bolivia, Worst day of this entire Trip! The most horrible roads in the world-Southern Bolivia!

I’ve always wanted to drive straight across the world’s largest salt flat so here was my chance. So I made my way to the north of the Uyuni salt flat to a small town called Salinas.

On the way I passed by this place

Guess what you get when you block out the last letter.

After driving all day this turns out to be quite funny, or perhaps it’s just me.

So finally the pavement ended near a town called Sevoruyo. The road got real ugly.

Did I mention it’s the wet season, so this dirt road is constantly flooded, making it completely mud and makes rivers that cut off the road.

This is one of the many rivers I had to cross. 

It’s a scary feeling when it feels that you and the bike are going straight into the water. Going across I have to fight the current from sweeping me and the bike down the river. There were a few close calls to swimming in the river and having a huge problem with a flooded bike or a bike floating down the river.

I continued on pretty lost until sunset, as there were no signs to this small town I was trying to adventure to.

Got a great sunset though.

As I was in the middle of nowhere completely out of the way of anything I had to pull of some free hidden Bolivian camping.

Did I mention it was the rainy season?!! It rained all night and my tent got flooded, not fun.

So I went to sleep, knife and pepper spray at hand just in case anyone got curious.

Alright, so today begins the worst day of my trip, get ready.

I woke up to rain and a flooded tent. I had no food and little water and I was a full days ride away from anything.

I did however pass by some meteroite craters

Also I was notified that back in Peru my debit card number was stolen, probably from a crappy ATM machine, so my card was frozen, so I had no way to get money out of my bank account. So I woke up to the continued thinking of how to resolve that issue, I don’t think I’ll be able to survive on my emergency stashed away money for long.

I headed towards the town north of the Uyuni salt flat called Salinas to attempt a drive straight across the salt flat north to south.

The road there was atrocious and horrible. 

ome flammingos on this awful road

Slipping and sliding on mud the entire way. I traveled a distance of 100 miles in 10 hours to get there, I was averaging 10 mph the entire way. That’s like the amount f time it takes to drive from California to Texas in the US but only covering 100 miles.


There were huge rivers I had to cross like a crazy man like this one.

If that wasn’t bad enough, when I got to Salinas I still didn’t’ see the salt flat and found out I had to drive another 2 hours to get to the salt flat. So I drove about an hour to find nothing but flooded dirt and mud. 

It was literally a swimming pool of mud and the entire salt flat was flooded in water so it was impassable, I thought it would only be minimal, but I was wrong!

I tried pushing myself through it, but it only got worse and knew I had to turn back. So 2 days lost for nothing!
On the way out of this horrific mess I wiped out, I got back up, then crashed again and did that constantly fighting the mud the entire way back.

Here’s one of the crashes for your entertainment.

Once again I was on the same muddy road back to the main road. As I was making good time I started to relax a bit, until I hit what looked like quick sand. It literally stopped the motorcycle in its place and sent my flying over my windshield.

The crash was so bad it actually ripped off left my side luggage case. Upon my landing I performed a cool front summersault and did the tuck and roll technique to lessen the impact to a very bruised elbow and shin, but nothing serious. My rain suit however acquired some nice big holes in it.

scene of the accident
Big problem to deal with

So now I had a broken luggage case to deal with and fix in the middle of Bolivia on a dirt road where I hadn’t seen anyone for an entire day of driving.

To my luck I had a guy in a van approach me after some time, swerving a little crazily with his vehicle I thought it was because of the mud. As the driver got out stumbling out of his car yelling ‘wohoo! Looks like you crashed hard!”, (in spanish obviously) I could distinctly smell the potent alcohol from his breath.
It was barely 10am and this guy was blasted out of his mind.

I couldn’t understand a single word coming out of his mouth. He couldn’t even stand up on his own strength. It didn’t help that every word was followed by spit hitting my face or his continued foaming of the mouth.
I just wanted to fix my broken motorcycle but this guy kept grabbing and spitting in my face, rambling on with no sense about who know what.

This reminded me of the trip I took through the Hopi Indian reservations in Arizona, where again I encountered very drunk people along the reservation, it seemed quite normal. I suppose living so far away in such poor conditions leads to heavy drinking among other things. And here in Bolivia, this indigenous Indian was the same way.

So I did the typical thing of just smiling and nodding my head, saying, yeah, yup, ummm sure, yes etc. while trying to fix my broken bike. After using my body as a side stand he eventually asked for money, and fell to the floor. So I left him there for a bit to rest while I tried to fix my problem of the motorcycle.

I had to sacrifice my extra gas tanks to use the tie down strap to tie down the luggage case back onto the motorcycle. It started to rain and the luggage case had two huge holes, so everything inside got wet.
Finally after engineering a “Mexican” fix of the luggage I was off, but not before I dragged the heavily inebriated guy to his van. I said farewell and wished him well.

I continued on the bumpiest most uneven road that had my luggage case falling off the entire way. So I had to constantly stop and strap it on again and again.

Many hours and more mud later I hit the main road, which looked exactly the same as the crappy dirt road I’ve been driving for the past 3 days.

And another river to cross.
Almost got stuck in thi one, it way deeper than it looked

I then headed to Servouyo and from there Uyuni to see the salt flat.

The road slowly improving

Random dirt mound on the trial

some free range llama on the way
A small villages miles from anywhere but there

When I arrived in Servouyo I couldn’t continue on because it was raining hard and the river had risen up to my chest in height. I even debated driving on top of the active rail road tracks that had huge gaps that went over the river which most likely would get the motorcycle stuck, I thought I’ve had a pretty bad day already, let’s not make it worse by dumping  the bike into a ragging river. So I had to stay and wait for the river to go down.

I got a chance to glue back together my case with silicon. Lucky for me these pelican cases are very durable. 

Looks like the numer 09

So I fixed it up as much as I could and strapped it back on again.

The road from Servouyo to Uyuni during the wet season has been the most dangerous, intense, ridiculous, insane, most flooded, muddiest, most river crossings, most vehicles stuck and biggest pain in the butt road to drive I have even done in my life! Bolivia so far take the cake on worst roads and road conditions I’ve ever seen on TV or real life!

Lots of mud to deal with on Bolivia southern roads

I cannot begin to describe the horrors I saw and experienced on this road to Uyuni from Segrovuyo. 

That serious crash let my laptop with nice big LCD smudges and a cracked screen

There were trucks stuck in the mud, numerous rivers to cross waist high in water, mud, more mud and tons more mud, bumpy as can be, puddles of water covering holes the size of giant inflatable beach balls, got stuck more times than I can remember and much more. 

A little beauty to the bad road conditions

I was so frustrated and tired and focused on not getting killed I didn’t take many pictures or video, I just wanted to get through this unspeakable horror. I don’t think the mental pictures and memories will ever go away from my time on this mud trail from hell. 

Many hours and few miles later the most horrible road I’ve ever driven ended and turned into just a bad road the rest of the way to Uyuni.

So bashed and injured from all the crashes, no food, no more water, worst road and driving conditions, found out my laptop screen was broken from the crash, covered in dirt, soaked in water, clothes and equipment wet and dirty from the holes, broken luggage case, lost my extra gas tanks, lost 3 days in useless driving that achieved nothing, got spit on my a drunk guy and I had nuts and bolts falling off the bike from all the rattling. It was the worst day and a half of my trip so far.

Don't go on the 602 north of Uyuni during the rainy season, between the red lines is the road of unspeakable horrors
and FYI the blue line is my route through the crazy mess.

So finally I arrived in Uyuni.

As soon as I saw the salt flat and all of its beauty the past 3 days of horror were justified, or at least I convinced myself it was.

Getting to the salt flat, was awesome as when you approach it an amazing mirror effect takes place in the distance. 

I took some nice pictures with the bike.

I saw lots of 4x4 vehicles crossing further into this flooded salt flat of Uyuni. 

I really thought about taking the motorcycle in, but it was way too deep and it was salty, and my experience with salt water on the bike from Panama to Colombia by boat was bad, so I didn’t want to mess with those issues again by dunking it completely in highly concentrated salt water.

So I bunked down for the night in Uyuni and booked a tour the following morning.

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