Day 14. 54km. Stone Wall – San Juan

Posted: September 16, 2019 in Bolivia, Cycling
Tags: , , ,

‘Are you the other cyclist?’

We talked for hours as we wandered around the sandswept ghost town of San Juan, checking the tiny shops with their bare shelves, and sharing stories and plans.

The ghost town of San Juan

The ghost town of San Juan

Today was an intense day. Dominated by the wind, today also had some hail and sand storms for good measure. And the descent to the plain involved a fair amount of pushing through soft sand.

Pushing downhill

Pushing downhill

The wind was fierce. A headwind. It was blasting diagonally into my face as I inched forward across salt plains towards Chiguana. I alternated from rugging up as I was pelted with a blast of rain, and basking in the (windy) sun. The light games made for some amazing photos of the bike in an endless expanse of salt.

Bike on the expanse of salt

Bike on the expanse of salt

Bike on the expanse of salt

Bike on the expanse of salt

After a lunch break from the wind in the abandoned train station in Chiguana, I continued my battle into the wind. I needed energy to cycle the 30km to San Juan in this wind, so I put on the earphones and listened to Infected Mushroom. The fast music didn’t match the crawling forward. At one point I just stopped in the gale and danced to the music in front of the bike.

Dancing into the wind

Dancing into the wind

Pushing on, the dances became more frequent, letting pieces of clothing stand to attention in the wind.

Dancing into the wind

Dancing into the wind

Dancing into the wind

Dancing into the wind

Mind games with the wind

Mind games with the wind

Then the road veered a bit to the right, and the wind changed direction ever so slightly, and I had a tail wind. The music still pumping, I increased from 6km/h to 30 and laughed with joy. This is what it is all about. There are tough times, but the wind is with you sometimes too, and here I am, catapulting through this incredible lunar landscape. I felt I had the power of gods, I felt honoured, and so very very happy.

Tail wind

Tail wind

Then, 5km from San Juan, the road veered to the left, and I hit deep sand with corrigations. And the true sandstorm took hold. I pushed my bike into the town as the sand was howling down the abandoned streets.

Sand storm

Sand storm

Ghost town of San Juan

Ghost town of San Juan

My plan was to stock up with food, get a SIM card, contact the outside world, and cycle across the salt flats and on to Oruro without visiting the tourist town of Uyuni. The food pickings were slim and very expensive. There was no internet in the whole town and certainly no SIM cards. Now as stocked up as possible, I’m going go bed not knowing where I’ll go tomorrow. In essence, it’ll be which ever direction the wind is blowing with my new cycling partner Jason.

Comments
  1. valerievolk says:

    You’ve been on some amazing treks, but this one pretty much tops them all, I reckon!

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Definitely otherworldly. Lordy, it looks rough!

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