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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Bolivia

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The Mexigonians have arrived in Bolivia – 5 months ago! They apologize for the delay, and hope to get everyone up to speed in just a few articles. Here is the low-down of the trip from Colombia to Bolivia. If you are spared for time, here are the highlights:

  • Colombia was beautiful, and heavily armed with military personnel.
  • Ecuador was absolutely beautiful, inexpensive, and for the most part, very well-organized.
  • They had car trouble in the mountains in Ecuador where a man with a machete helped build a tow truck from a tree trunk and pickup truck.
  • In Peru, they had the most car trouble, which forced them to bypass important tourist sites.
  • Rocinante had a broken wheel bearing, which caused the wheel to fly off into the desert while speeding along the highway, and three flat tires (in one day) due to an awful alignment.
  • Also in Peru, they left the coast and ascended into the mountains quickly. The car wouldn’t start due to the cold and a faulty starter, and so some people stopped to help. They helped push-start the car, but stole the camera as payment!
  • Brady and Elizabeth arrived in Bolivia in the middle of the night due to yet another flat tire, and prepared themselves for life in Cochabamba!

Colombia is a beautiful country from North to South. Brady and Elizabeth visited the colonial town of Cartagena where they picked their car up from the port, and drove to the country’s bustling capital, Bogota. After visiting countless museums (including the impressive Botero paintaings) complete with mummies and ancient artifacts, they moved south. They arrived in Cali, not only the salsa capital of the world, but also the area with the most plastic surgeons and hence, the most augmented women! From the jungle and mountains to the hot, hot flatlands in the south, Colombia is definitely one of Mexigonia’s most enjoyed stops.

From Colombia, the two entered Ecuador, and were amazed at the colorful landscape. The country is full of flowing water, friendly people, and free roadside assistance! Brady and Elizabeth loved Ecuador, but apparently Rocinante did not, or maybe she wanted to stay longer! Their first trouble began in the north of the country. The Rabbit’s gears stopped working as she neared the top of a mountain, and the travelers were forced to get a tow-truck. Luckily, the highway offered free roadside assistance, and they were with a mechanic in no time. He fixed the gears the best he could, but unfortunately Rocinante lost the ability of reverse gear thereafter!

After that minor hiccough, they crossed the Equator, entered the Southern Hemisphere and headed to Quito, where they enjoyed jazz music, and climbing high mountains. Brady and Elizabeth then departed to the East over the Andes Mountains, and headed toward the coast to start the route to Peru. At the top of one mountain peak in the range is a large lagoon. The drive up the mountain was absolutely amazing, filled with colorful farms, jagged rock formations, and pleasant Quechua people. They arrived at the lagoon and rested at a hostel with other travelers.

After leaving the lagoon, and beginning our decent to the coast, the Mexigonians encountered heavy rains and fog. The paved road ended. The rain disguised large potholes as mere puddles, and the diesel line broke after the car fell into a large hole. Trying to stop the diesel leak, Brady got under the car, in the mud, in the rain, and fixed up the broken hose. They continued. Suddenly, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, the gears once again were useless. Brady pulled over, and they looked around to find only a few houses within sight and no way of descending the mountain further. Soon, a man with a blue handmade poncho and machete in hand walked up to offer his help.

They were stuck in a “town” of a few houses, no telephone, no indoor plumbing, and only the man with the machete to help us! After concluding that they would have to tow the car down the mountain, the man then used his trusty machete to fashion a ‘tow truck’ out of a tree trunk and a pickup truck. The pickup pulled the Rabbit down the mountain by a tree trunk and Rocinante made it to a mechanic where she got a new CV joint, and the three were on their way once again.

Brady and Elizabeth arrived in Peru and were amazed at how quickly the jungle and waterlogged mountains turned into dry, flat desert for as far as the eye can see. They heard a noise coming from the wheel and decided to stop at the next town to check it out, only the next town was too far. As they sped down the flat highway, Rocinante’s rear wheel suddenly popped off (due to a broken wheel bearing) and flew off into the desert. The car skidded to a halt, sparks flying from the axle scraping the pavement. Elizabeth called the police to help get a tow truck, and they arrived quickly.

“We will wait with you until the truck comes, but we can’t call a tow for you,” the police officers told Brady and Elizabeth.

“Why not,” Brady asked.

“If we call, the tow companies won’t believe us that there is actually an emergency,” the officers explained.

“But you’re the police!” Brady insisted.

“Exactly,” one officer replied.

So Brady called around and found his own tow truck. The tow brought them to the nearest town of Chiclayo, where they slept in the car, on top of the tow truck, until the morning when they could meet the mechanic!

A professional and amicable team of mechanics went to work on Rocinante. They put her on a forklift to life her up and examine her underbelly. They fixed more than the wheel bearing, washed the Rabbit inside and out and sent the Mexigonians on their way.

Shortly thereafter, Rocinante got the first flat tire of the trip. Excited that this was a problem they could fix themselves, Brady and Elizabeth quickly changed the tire and started driving again.

Within a few hours, they got their second flat tire of the trip: the same one! With no spare, Brady had to hitch-hike his way to the nearest town and get a new tire.

They then headed toward the coast and the scenery was from a different planet. They saw the tallest sand dune (in the world?) and colorful rocky hills next to miles and miles of virgin beaches. They passed vast expanses of empty space with not towns in sight, where wild horses were roaming about.

Elizabeth and Brady realized how off the alignment was by how the second new tire was already worn down to its threads. Rocinante slowly crawled along the highway to the next town for help. They got the alignment fixed only to return the next day for a broken axle connector piece (insert actual car part name here) which the mechanics were forced to solder back together.

At this point, the Mexigonians were at their wits’ end and could not wait to arrive in Bolivia where they could leave their car and remain in one place! They arrived in Puno, Peru, and were about a day or two away from their destination. They had arrived in the mountain city in one day directly from the coast, and the altitude was overwhelming. At times it was difficult to think straight due to the lack of oxygen. The car would not start, and so a group of people stopped to help push-start. They successfully aided the Mexigonians in push starting the car, but stole their camera as payment!

With not much of a choice, the two travelers trudged through the final days, and arrived in Cochabamba in the early morning, after changing yet another flat tire. Here they remain until the present time, working at a bilingual school on the outskirts of the town.

Colombia Photos Ecuador Photos Peru Photos

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 August 2010 18:55