Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sucre Redux

I returned to Bolivia after a three week visit to the United States to visit family. On February 24 at 6:00 AM I landed at the airport in La Paz. A motorcyclist named Alfonso had been storing my motorcycle while I was gone and he met me

Now in Sucre, Bolivia for sometime. Planning to write a project proposal that could shape the next five to twenty years of my life. Time will tell.

Sucre is the original capital of Bolivia. Much of the government is now in La Paz, while the judiciary remained here. It called the "white city" and the name accurate. Walking around Sucre many of the buildings are painted white.  Above is a church near where my friends Cecilia and her father Claus live.

This is the view of Sucre from a hill to the east of town. The umbrellas are part of a cafe attached to a hostel. There is a museum near this place with a gift shop that sells authentic handcraft made by the indigenous people of Bolivia. This view point holds a special place in my memories.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sucre, Bolivia - Take 1

Leaving Potosi was a nightmare. Without a GPS I was trying to use Google Maps on an iPhone. It was very difficult to escape Potosi and to make matters worst, it was raining, raining hard. Fortunately, at the edge of town  I was asked at a toll booth where I was going and was told to turn around. Leaving a city can be like trying to read Brielle without being trained. Finally the route out became clear and I was on my way to Surce, a two hour ride…then the temperature started dropping.
About 45 minutes out of Potosi the temperature fell into the upper 30’s, not far from freezing. My hands were wet from pulling out and using the iPhone when figuring out how to get out of Potosi. Now they were really cold, even under heavy rubber gloves that I use for riding in the rain. I was seriously thinking about turning around and trying again the next day. Only my distaste for Potosi kept me moving forward. A gas station appeared and I pulled over, put on all of my liners and the heated vest. Ahhh, warmth. As I pressed on to Sucre the temperature rose and the sun came out. It was going to be a fun ride to Sucre now.

Claus-and-Ceci-close-upThe reason I was traveling to Sucre, was to visit Cecilla. We met on the Stahlratte, the boat that took us from Panama to Columbia. Cecilla, a.k.a. Ceci, said if I come to Bolivia, that I must stop in Sucre. She said to write her an email, give her a call…or just show up at her door.  I did write her and in the end showed up at her door, only to find that she was out at the family “Lan house” or country house. Her father, Claus, received me and we had a long chat about Bolivia and Sucre. Claus was the Tour Director for a tour company and a wealth of information. That night he helped me select a hotel and gave me countless travel tips in the day to follow.

The first piece of advice Claus gave me was, “hotels and food is so affordable in Bolivia, enjoy the best.” That night I checked into Sucre’s finest hotel, Hotel Parador Santa Maria. I felt a little out of place walking into a posh hotel with riding gear, but I got over it. The staff are great, the room lovely…

That night I went down the block to the closest ex-pat bar, Florin. I would return there a few more times. That night there was a party of 14-16 people all dressed in costumes. They were having a grand time.  =)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chasing the Dakar II

Following the "Tucuan"  I use a cool app on my iPhone called World Explorer that returns the most popular tourist sites to see for a given city. The results are rated (somehow...perhaps by elfin magic), ordered by distance from the city center and the locations can be viewed as pin points on a map. After checking out the results for Tucuman, I decided to see the local modern art museum Museo Timoteo Navarro before leaving town. The museum has very nice wooden doors, which do not open to visitors on Monday...
My travel companion Pablo does not share my interest in art and had gone ahead to the next Dakar Rally stage, Rioja. After lunch I followed on a more leisurely pace, stopping now and then to take photos. I grew up in rural southeast Pennsylvania the Amishgrow tobacco and it is dried in barns. This sure looks like tobacco, but the shed is made of bamboo. Way cool.

These photos are classic misty mountains, I just can't resist taking them.

On arriving in Rioja, AR, we learned that next race starts in Cordoba, follows off road dirt course for the first half of the race, then goes on the highway for the last half, ending in Rioja, where we are in position. Sadly the racers must follow posted speed limits on the public roads, so the end of the race won't be very exciting. I learned that the actual route is kept secret until the day of the stage, so the racers have equal knowledge of the course. This makes it hard for spectators get in position beforehand. We skipped riding all the way to Cordoba, only to find out that is where the dirt action happens closer to Cordoba,then the contestants motor to Rioja where they spend the night and repair for the next day.

My riding companion, Pablo, met me in Rioja. Through personal connections he was able to get me a pass into the Dakar Rally bivouac at Rioja. Passes into the secure compound are hard to get. The plastic wristband includes a RFID chip that is checked by security as you enter the bivouac. Each night the contestants repair their vehicles.

Here is a clip from the Fiambala stage and a water crossing north of Belem:

Friday, February 8, 2013

New York City Opera Warehouse

Left the motorcycle in La Paz, Bolivia for three weeks to travel back to the US of a visit. Woke up south of Boston at Megan and Matt's place. Got to hang out with Archer and take photos before hitting the road to New Jersey.

Megan & Matt and Archer

Next stop, the New York City Opera warehouse in North Bergen, NJ. My friend Andrew had bought stage lights and globe lights from the opera as they liquidated their storage facility. It took 4 hours to locate the items, retrieve some that were stored on racks high off the floor and load into a 24 foot truck. The warehouse had an amazing collection of props from years of opera sets. The warehouse reminded me of the last scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where the camera pulls back to reveal an enormous warehouse.

We lost an hour and a half while the dock workers (union teamsters) loaded a prop car into another truck. Oh well, it was cool watching them load the car...