Posts Tagged ‘San Juan’


All I could think of was a bed to sleep in immediately as I crawled the last kilometres to Colcha K. My body needed a rest and it was going to take one for it.

On the way to Colcha K

On the way to Colcha K

Neither Jason (the other cyclist) or I slept well. For the first time I wasn’t hungry at breakfast and had to force some calories down. Cycling along the easy road with no wind, I just felt flat. The aim was to power on today to the edge of the Salar and across to the island in tbe middle. Jason didn’t see it happening and wanted to go to Uyuni first. At the turn off to the Salar we split up. He headed directly towards Uyuni planning to stop early at a big town for a rest. I headed towards Colcha K and the Salar, planning to stop early too and start much closer to the Salar tomorrow.

Jason and I

Jason and I

It was 15km to Colcha K from the turnoff on a good road surface. The road for the last 5km wasn’t as good, but still should have been very easy in the grand scheme of things.

All I could think of was a bed. The town was uphill a bit and the hotels that were meant to exist were always just a bit further. One hotel I couldn’t find, another was full. A young boy took me to a hidden guesthouse and the owner welcomed me in for the grand sum of $5.

I put the bike in the room and went straight to sleep (at noon), and I still really haven’t left the bed and it’s 5pm.

Sleep

Sleep

This is how I feel after a long time at altitude. I was thinking I was going to be immune this time. In India, I just stopped for a day’s rest before Lachuna La, drinking lots of rehydration salts. In Tajikistan I felt like this at Karakol too. My body spoke and I listened. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.


‘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.