Monday, December 26, 2005

Bad Mood

This has to be one of the lowest points on this journey. No motivation to get out of bed this morning, and I was hurting in several places. Rest is not a bad thing right now.

I slept in my clothes last night, not wishing to contact the bed covers in this dismal hotel. (But the under $4 price keeps me here!) This market district in the center of La Paz is, for a northerner, atrocious: the air smells of garbage and urine. It is common to see men urinating in public, even in broad daylight. The din of traffic, horns, people shouting in the market place; it sounds like a huge rally and traffic jam rolled into one. All the time. Conditions here are simply disgusting, yet this is the reality for so many people. And they seem to make the most of it.

I went looking for a tourist information office purportedly on a nearby square. I asked people all around the square. Each person was aware of it, and everyone gave me different directions. I never did find it. I just want a friggin’ map of this city! (The small map of downtown on my Bolivia map is terrible.)

The hotel doesn't even have any telephone yellow pages to research shops, so I went out on my bike at 11:00, feeling pretty depressed. Tried to follow directions to an area where, I was told, I would find auto and motorcycle shops. Today is a holiday, so they were likely to be closed, but I wanted to use the day to get oriented and prepared.

Once in the area, I stopped at a gas station for some help finding the dealerships. The attendant said, "not here." The only place I'd find motorcycle shops was over by the stadium, he said.

Then I tried going in that direction on Ave. Simon Bolivar. At a stop light, I asked a motorcycle policeman and he pointed me in yet another direction, up into the hills. "That's where you'll find the motorcycle shops."

Found a small, grimy shop with motorcycles parked out front. The proprietor said there were a couple large shops up on the mountaintop. He tried calling, but one was closed, and the other didn't have the size tire I needed. Not even anything close.

Tried again to find the area by the stadium. What a crazy city! It started raining and I decided it was rather hopeless today. Maybe I could do more on the internet. Returned to my hotel, even more depressed.

Maybe I needed to eat! Went back to "Pizzeria Italia" for lunch. Watched some bull riding (from the U.S.!) and football (soccer) while dining.

Walked over to the "Hotel Rosario" and again asked to use their internet. Met the bar manager "Abel", who wanted to help me search for a tire. His English was very good, but he kept finding tires in places like the U.S. and Colombia, which wasn't a big help. I appreciated his enthusiasm, however, because at this point I had little.

Back to my hotel. I couldn't get much lower. The possibility that I might be stuck in La Paz, as in Lima, waiting on a tire, was nearly unbearable. The “I told you so’s” were flowing. (Those who told me I should have spent the money to bring in two tires from the U.S. “No, I’ll be able to find a rear tire in La Paz. It’s the front that’s the problem.”) I was hating this city and my helplessness.

Late in the day, there was nothing to do but go through my bags again. "What can I dump?" A half dozen maps I no longer need, some pants, a “Solo” lighter that stopped working, and the butane to fill it. My digital pressure gauge that stopped working. Threw out receipts that had been accumulating since Texas. The rope too? No, I might need that to hang myself.

Returned to the "Hotel Rosario" after 9:30. Tried writing a few more contacts about tires. Wrote the head of BMW Service for South America, complaining of the difficulty finding tires for these bikes.

Brad Houghton wrote that he and Melissa just arrived in Uyuni after a "hell ride". It may be too late for the Salar de Uyuni, as it is covered in "five inches of water." 8 falls for them on that little sidetrip.

I can’t afford to be falling right now, not with the injuries I already have. The Salar de Uyuni was one of the goals of this trip, one of the highlights. If I pass on it, it will be a major disappointment.

The part of me that is very anxious about going out there, and the risks such a trip entails, would be relieved at a change in plans. Another, more reasonable part knows it would be foolish to attempt it when injured. Even more so if the bike were in marginal condition.

Is it possible to do after going to Tierra del Fuego? I could make a case for curtailing all side trips and driving straight south. This is the optimum time to visit Tierra del Fuego, not two months from now.

Kicked out of the bar at 11:00.

Bought toilet paper from a street vendor for one Boliviano and two small (hotel-size) bars of soap for two Bolivianos. You can find almost anything out there on the street!

5 comments:

PAYNTERinFLORIDA said...

Chin up Timbo---These are the moments that all trips give you to enable us to appreciate and savor the better times. Certainly it couldn't get any worse,....well we hope it couldn't. I emailed you a link for a map of La Paz.....let me know if I can be of any help here in Florida with the tire situation as dozens of flights leave daily from Miami for S.A......take this time to heal your body...first get outta that Motel Bates though!~

timtraveler said...

Thanks, Tim!

But the "Bates" is less than $4 per night! So what if they seem a little psycho here!

PAYNTERinFLORIDA said...

Things sound as if they are looking up....must try to focus on the "glass" and not it's content amounts....though difficult as this must be.

Still your Blog is compelling reading...if nothing else I think the more dank, and depressing your surroundings, the better quality of writing is often produced -- as you look to "color" your world and situation with instrospective observations. Often times when surrounded by "fun", beauty, and good times these observations would be lost in the glow of the good times.....so write on of your misery Timbo...it's all a part of story.

timtraveler said...

Good advice, indeed, sir!

Genevieve said...

I think it's very possible that some of the depression was a side effect of the altitude as well as the stress about your bike tires.