Day 156: Tour de Paris

Day 156: Tour de Paris

Chantilly to Paris

Distance: 61.3 km

Time on board : 4 hours 28 mins

Average Speed: 13.7 kmh

Cumulative distance: 6897 km
Forgot today is Monday, a working day where everyone rushed to work. Woke up to see the hordes of cars rushing to Paris for work. On the hindsight, should have just skate to Paris yesterday which traffic is almost non existent on Sunday. Last night camped in the middle of roundabout. It was pretty comfortable to sleep if you can ignore the noise from traffic. Cooked my pasta for breakfast while waiting for the rush hour traffic to subside. But it doesn’t, so I continue skating, contenting the narrow road with them. Usually, they will overtake me by going on the other lane, but this time, with traffic,continuously flowing from both directions, it become a mammoth task to overtake me on a narrow lane. Soon, the traffic behind me began to pile up and it was going to be this way for 40km. No choice but to take train to Saint Dennis, outskirt of Paris.
Skating into colossal cities like Bangkok, Saigon and Hanoi is nothing compared to this. Though it may seem the traffic in Paris is significantly fewer than those in Bangkok and Saigon, due to narrow lane without any shoulder, it is unwise to skate into Paris on peak hour. In Asia, though traffic is significantly larger, but i felt safer skating into cities like Bangkok and Saigon because the roads are wider with shoulder lanes and vehicles move a lot slower  among the heavy traffic. Furthermore, they are used to sharing the road with slow moving mode of transport like bicycle and me.
Stopped at luzarches to grab a train to Saint Dennis, where I can find a safer road to skate on to Paris. Once I found river Seine, it become easy to navigate. Just follow the bike path on river Seine. First stop is stade de France, where France won their first and only World cup. Visited all other attractions including place de Bastille, Notre Dame, lovre, Effiel tower and arc de triumph. Paris was too expensive for me to stay in, since my fellow long distance skater Romain Bessiere the Globeskater with his girlfriend Maria Teresa Rabelo Rafael invited me to stay with them in Caen. Caen is located in Normandy, near D Day landing, isn’t my planned route at first. It is 250km west of Paris, so I had to take 2 hours train to Caen, where I was picked up by Romain at the train station. His girlfriend cooked me a great pasta and oysters feast. Normandy is next to the sea, thus it is famous for its seafood. 
Will stay with them for a couple of days to recuperate before moving on to Tours, where Panta Gruelon, another famous skater awaits me.

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Day 579: Adiós Bolivia! Hola Argentina! Country 27

Date of entry: 13 September 2018 Day 579: Adiós Bolivia! Hola Argentina! Country 27

Pozos, Bolivia to Oran, Argentina

Distance: 70.3 km

Time on board: 6 hours 10 minutes

Average speed: 11.4 kmh

Ascent: 336 m. Descent: 478 m

Cumulative distance: 19,228.1 km

Better to seek forgiveness than to wait for permission. Though sheltered under the basketball court’s canopy, I was at the edge. When the night storm arrived unexpectedly, my bivy was wet. Lighting and thunder roared the entire night. Forced to relocate. I have never been experienced such a storm in ages. A sign that I am leaving the dry season in the Altiplano, high possiblity of rain in the Chaco region. At least, the storm provided the much welcomed cool temperature in order for me to sleep.

Attempted to leave early before the school commenced in the morning. Somehow, some diligent teachers arrived at school. We greeted each other and went about doing our business. In Singapore, any unauthorized strangers caught Camping in school, school will immediately call the cops on me. Amazing how trusting Bolivianos are.

Not sure why, woke up fatigued and feverish. Furthermore, my back pain was further aggravated. Couldn’t bend my back without excruciatingly pain. Still, I must continue on. Supposed the school wouldn’t allow me to stay another day. Is it flies spreading their disease to me? Or infected by a cut on my thumb while doing slicing my bread. Maybe miss my Altiplano.

The flies woke up as well, having me for breakfast. My legs and arms became swollen with bite marks. Will I get superpower if one of them were radioactive. In Andes, I skate without taking breaks in order to keep warm. Here, I kept skating to escape from pesky bloodsuckers. The moment I paused, I woul be swarmed. I couldn’t open my mouth to inhale unless I fancy extra proteins.

Apparently the school was having an event at other schools, they drove their students to other schools. Maybe teacher’s Day celebration. No sun today, completely covered by clouds. Good thing in lowlands, if not I would be skating in soaring temperature.

Once again, the rolling hills continued, descending more after each ascent. 26 km to Bolivia Argentina border to go. Took me almost 2.5 hours, to arrive at 9.30 am. At the Bolivian checkpoint, a policeman came up to me, explaining my story. On separate occasions, after listening to my adventures, 2 families in cars came over to hand me 400 Argentina pesos which was roughly 10 USD. Each time, I was leaving a country, someone would always hand me some money. Peru, and other happened countries too. I should just loiter at every border and enter back and fro, thus I can make living. Amazing hospitality by Bolivians. Now too touched to leave Bolivia. Every time I have to leave the country, amazing things happened, making me reluctant to leave.

Crossed over the international bridge. At Argentina customs, the officers wanted to scan all of my belonging, have to unpack everything for scanners. I am not supposed to carry any organic food into Argentina. In the end, they confiscated my chopped garlic for Aglio Olio and my bananas. Allowed me to finish my bunch of Bananas, I gulped all 4. Now I couldn’t cook my meal until I get to Oran, 50 km further to replenish my food Argentina was facing economic crisis and Hyperinflation crippling the economy. Maybe, this was measure to boost agriculture sector. Not as if Argentina was a isolated country like Australia to protect its delicate ecosystem.

Having to reorganize my pushie, everything felt strange. That is why I detest going through customs. Skated another 1 km to Argentina Bolivia immigration. Both counters are located in the same building and side by side. This should be the way, everything will be simpler. Without any further questions, I was officially in Argentina, country 27. Will exit and enter Argentina several times since it borders many countries.

The rolling hills persisted until 10 km, it flattened out. Little hope of having lunch all the way till Oran. Everywhere was farmlands and factories. Until 41 km, passed by a community of wooden shacks. Saw a window selling grocery. Crossed the road to inquire if they have lunch. Yes indeed, inside the community, there was an eatery. No signs indicating there was an eatery. Thankfully I went over to ask. 40 pesos or 1 USD for a rice with meatball. I thought Argentina was supposed to be expensive. While having lunch, entertained the owner’s son Manuel, showing my pictures on Instagram. My first meal in Argentina. After finishing my meal, I wanted to pay but the owner said it was a treat. Another case of human hospitality. 40 peso was 1 USD, nothing consequential to me but alot to then. Yet they give me more than my heart can receive. Wanted to give my hoodie I won in San Diego Adrenaline skate marathon to Manuel but it slipped my mind.

Full belly and warm heart, I resumed. Soon after, a car pulled over and Juan handed me 30 pesos. Omg humans are simply amazing. Can’t believe my good fortune. Events of generosity happening in a single day. Today I already made 430 pesos including a free meal. Haven’t even spent a peso in hours. If this goes on in Argentina, I can cover all my living expenses here. Humans are amazing.

The road flattened but headwind persists. To make matters worse, Argentinians drove as fast as they exited from world cup. Plus no shoulder lane. My back pain intensitied and feeling more fatigue. I just kept pushing on slowly. 10 km before Oran, A van pulled over and offered me a lift to Oran. I don’t know what gotten into me, I politely turned down. Back pain and feverish fatigue like this, I could have relaxed for last 10 km to Oran. Maybe, I don’t want to waste the goodwill of the locals on me or I want to suffer. Suffering is part of the touring fun. Soon I regretted my decision, as I struggled in strengthening headwind. No more 2nd chance, have to make it on my own to Oran. Sky darkening, another storm incoming. Seemed like here would be rainy season.

Arrived in Oran, enquired at Hostal San Martin. 450 pesos for a single bed. Upon checking in, I found the WiFi wasn’t working. Asked for an refund. After 3 days without WiFi, it became essential to me to connect to outside world. Went over another posh looking hotel, but it was only 480 pesos. Cheap for this quality. I couldn’t stand properly with my wrecked back and feeling feverish. Went straight to bed after posting updates. Till 9.30 pm, then I could manage to walk and get dinner. Looks like I have to rest another day or so. Worst case scenario might have to grab bus to Paraguay. But today, humans are amazing.

Day 578: Where is my bug spray?

Date of entry: 12 September 2018

Day 578: Where is my bug spray?

Bolivia: 65 km from Tarija to Los Pozos

Distance: 100 km

Time on board: 7 hours 55 minutes

Average speed: 12.6 kmh

Ascent: 675 m. Descent: 2142 m

Cumulative distance: 19, 157.8 km

Woke up without freezing my butt off. That is the good thing of sleeping in lower altitude. No more needless waiting an hour for the sun to defrost my frozen stuff. Now, I can pack up and go. Of course, I prefer freezing to bugs which I will come to it later. Left my bag of bread outside only to find it being savaged by ants. The pesky minions bit through the plastic bag. Extra protein for me. I am not going to discard my bread just because of ants. Simply brushed them off and continue eating my breakfast. Food is too precious for me to waste. Next time I should get ant proof bag.

Without further ado, set off early. Felt a straining back ache. Must have carry something heavy over the days. Miss Magic hair now. She was a physiotherapist. She would have treated me a back rub to alleviate my pain. Nevertheless, the show must go on. Back pain or not, I still have to skate to Argentina. First 1 km was a climb to summit before descending down to 400 m. Argentina border is 126 km away. With the descent, I aim to make there by today. For 10 km, I plunged down for 700 m. That is 7% gradient. I had to activate my footbrake to slow down. My current shoes would be so toasted by end of the day.

Descent didn’t end there. Continued following the road paralleling the river. The river Bermejo serve as a border between Bolivia and Argentina. Across the river, I can already see Argentina. Of course, it wasn’t all descent. Every 200 m of descent, I had to climb 100 m elevation. Irritating, after every exhilarating downhill, I had to walk up. Thus my speed range from 4 kmh to 35 kmh. Overall for the first half of the day, my average speed was merely 13.5 kmh despite all the descent.

At 48 km, stopped at Emborozu for lunch. There wasn’t anything much for a restaurant selling fish. I asked the owner if she could make chicken with rice for me. But it would be 17 Bolivianos. I don’t care since I am leaving Bolivia soon, have to spend my Bolivianos before I leave. The moment I sat down, I was attacked by tiny flies. Not housefly nor mosquitos. I don’t know what are they called but they swarm all over me, and stung like hell. Leaving bite marks over me. Instead of having lunch, I am lunch for them. I am starting to miss the Andes mountains. No such issues as it was too cold and high for them to strive. I know I have been complaining about the cold and high altitude but I do miss them now, especially with insects eating me alive. I went out to grab my insect repellent which I haven’t used it for months since central America. So long, that I can’t remember where I place it. Suddenly the insect repellent has become the most essential item of my tour. Soon have to stock up on insect repellents when I get to Argentina. The insect repellent must be buried deep somewhere as I can’t hide it. Managed to find insect repellent waist band. That should do the job. As I ransacked my backpack, a man walking in drunken stupor approached me. He muttered in gibberish Spanish, which I can’t understand. Already irritated by the bugs, further aggravated by him, attempted to brush him off by pretending not to understand Spanish. He grabbed my hand and started muttering what seemed like a prayer. Entertained him for a while. Quickly grabbed my pushie and returned to restaurant to finish my lunch. He then followed me in and sat next to me. Ignored him and gulped my food to get out as soon as possible. The owner saw and ignored him as well. Every village, there is bound to have a village drunk or crazy guy. She probably know him and ignoring him seemed to be the best solution. The crazy guy turned to the owner and walked around the restaurant but the owner kept treating him like a ghost. Once he was gone, and I finished my meal, went up to the owner to pay. Unfortunately, the owner doesn’t have change for 20 Bolivianos. Instead she gave me a roll of toilet paper as change. Well, toilet paper will come useful when I need it and I am not argue for mere 0.5 USD. Why not let her make extra gain. 0.5 USD meant nothing to me but alot to Bolivians.

Quickly left to escape from the flies but they were persistent in following me to Argentina. I wonder do they have passport to enter Argentina. Immediately, I am faced with a long steep 4 km climb. For a long time, I haven’t perspire that much. In the cool Andes, there isn’t such thing as perspiration. 45 minutes, finished my climb and resumed roller coaster going up and down.

A series of 5 tunnels awaited me. The third tunnel was most terrifying. A km long, I can’t really estimate cos my Garmin GPS couldn’t receive any signal. All I know it was a black hole where no light can enter. Even with my head light on, I could only see the length of my pushie. For eternity, I have been walking in real darkness. Dare not to skate cos I couldn’t see the road ahead. Light only entered when the traffic entered the tunnel. The thunderous rumble amplified by the narrow tunnel, I could hear them approaching from a mile. This was when I had to wave frantically and shout, shone my head light or whatever I can do to make them notice me in the pure darkness. They could easily trample me if they couldn’t see me. My ordeal was finally over when i saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I was going to die inside for a moment. Crossed a few more tunnels but none was long and frightening as that one. I called it as the tunnel of death.

The ascent after each descent continued to slow me down. It was evident that I wasn’t going to make it to Argentina today. Aimed to skate as close to the border thus tomorrow, I can skate past the border and get to the next town. Searched for a suitable camp spot as I skated. But none was accessible as the mountains. Either they were farmlands or right beside the highway. The river bed was too rocky, the rest was too bushy.

Shocked to notice the time on Garmin edge 520 was already 4 pm. I thought It was 3pm minutes ago. An hour flies so quickly. Once I gathered my senses, I knew my Garmin time now was based on Argentina time since I was close to the river separating the two nations. The computer must have thought that I am in Argentina now, thus accounting for the hour ahead of the Bolivian time. For a moment I was confused. The time on Garmin continued to switch back and fro between Argentina and Bolivia.

As I progressed on, I thought of approaching homes to seek permission to camp at their backyards, however all of them have vicious dogs. I gave up on that idea, didn’t want crazy dogs to disturb me all night. Approached a restaurant but they weren’t open for business. Getting desperate, I came upon a school. The gates were wide open. I went inside to seek permission. There wasn’t anyone. Shouting all over the school, but to no avail. Daylight was fast fading. Have to trespass and camp in the school. Instead of camping hidden as normal people would. I openly camped in the basketball court. This way, if anyone spotted me, I can ask for permission. Don’t want to startle anyone especially the kids when they see me appearing out of nowhere when school starts tomorrow. Have to wake up early and get the hell out before school commenced. A passerby spotted me since I was openly camping. Asked him if it was ok to camp for a night. Ya sure. Even if police come over to arrest me, at least I will have a free lodging maybe prison food.

Immediately ransacked my backpack for my insect repellent. Found it and literally showered myself in insect repellent. The flies merely swarmed over me, not wanting to touch me. I could live with that. Over the days in Argentina and Paraguay, the flies will be my unwanted companions. Another issue I have to deal with is the heat and humidity. Too used to the cold, lost my immunity to the humidity. Should have returned back to Andes instead.

Day 577: Adiós Andes! Hola Lowland!

Date of entry: 11 September 2018

Day 577: Adiós Andes! Hola Lowland!

Bolivia: Tarija to 65 km after Tarija

Distance: 65 km

Time on board: 7 hours 44 minutes

Average speed: 8.4 kmh

Ascent: 1112 m. Descent: 851 m

Cumulative distance: 19,057.8 km

My predecessors skated to Potosi and took a bus to Uyuni for a salt skate. I went the other way, skate to Uyuni then bus to Potosi. From Potosi, another bus to Tarija. I could have skated all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina. But I wanted to skate and explore other countries Paraguay, a little bit of Brazil and Uruguay. Since I am already in this continent, might as well skate travel as many countries as I can. After all, returning back here from Singapore will cost me a fortune. As Pokémon’s Ash would say “Gotta Catch ’em all”. I would say “Gotta Skate ’em all”. In doing so, that meant my route would be a longer detour. Have to resort to taking bus in some boring sections to save me time if I were to return home Singapore for Lunar New year next February.

Potosi used to be the wealthiest city in the world during 16 century thanks to its vast Silver and other precious mineral hidden in the surrounding mountains. Thanks to the Spaniards, they rapidly depleted all silver through intensive mining and left the Bolivians with almost nothing after independence. The Spanish master only left their pet dog a bone to chew after finishing all the meat. Still, travelers can witnessthe wealth of the city acquired from silver mining. The flamboyant baroque architecture of the city reminds the rich history of its lost glorified days. Tourists can visit the mines still in operation, but I didn’t do the touristy stuff. Instead, explored the city at no cost cos I am a cheapskate. Bought a new pair of shoes as my current pair have tears on both soles. I am using my current pair to skate as I think I can squeeze more mileage till the max and breaks.

Overnight bus to Tarija at altitude of 1800 m. Realised I lost Grayl water filter, must have dropped it somewhere. Though it is quicker and simpler to filter water than my Steripen, it’s limited shelf life of 550 litres is the ultimate drawback, thus my Steripen had been my defacto water filter since.

Stayed at Casa Blanca hostel in Tarija, the same branch I stayed in Potosi. Since I had a wonderful stay in the one in Potosi, thus settled for it in Tarija though it cost more than in Potosi. Replenished all my food supply and water. I will be cooking and camping almost entire time cos Argentina is way more expensive than Bolivia. No more 1 USD meals or 3 USD accommodation.

Wanted to leave earlier from hostel, but as usual, garnered new found fans at the hostel. Had to take photos with them, as not to disappoint them. Set off at 8.30 am, the first I noticed I don’t have to wear all my warm clothes in the morning to skate. I reverted to wearing t shirt and shorts to skate. No more damn freezing temperatures. At 1800 m, the climate is mild and cool but not too cold to turn me to ice. I could have woken much earlier to set off if I realised that. Too used to the days in the harsh brutal Andes mountains.

Due to its cool dry climate, Tarija was known for its wine. Along the way, I observed vineries but they were not in season. 180 km From Tarija to the border with Argentina, there wasn’t any large towns, I supposed I have to cook lunch and dinner plus camp for next 2 days. Thus I filled my 15 litres water bank to the brim. First 25 km was rolling hills, mostly on a descent. Passed by a canyon, carved out by the river grinding the rocks after millions of years. See if you have time, you can achieve anything. Obviously, we don’t. After being awed bye the spectacular, back onto the road. For the next 20 km, a long climb. 62 km from Tarija, I would encountered 2 major climbs. I thought I would ended all climbs in flat Altiplano. I missed skating the flat Altiplano even though I often complained about the wind. But it beat the arduous climb. Back to skate/walk once again. By 12.30 pm, made it to 36 km, spotted a grocery store out of nowhere and asked the lady if she make lunch. She only have soup. Further enquired if there is any other eatery nearby. Yes, in Padcaya, 15 km away. With the climb like this, I will never be able to make it before dying. The lady somehow took pity on me and offered to fry a piece of chicken from her food supply with some salad and soup all for 15 Bolivianos. Expensive by usual lunch standard, but I was desperate. Anyway, it was less than a dollar extra. Why not let the lady earn extra income for her family.

Satisfied my stomach, immediately going up the hill after the grocery store, there lies a row of mobile wheelbarrow lunch stalls. Only if I persevere further, I could have cheaper, better meal. But on the hindsight, I can never know what is ahead of me. I can only make decisions what is best for me at that moment of time.

Ended the first major climb at 47 km before descending down another 13 km. It wasn’t all downhill, few short climbs. As I plunged down, the mountains’ geological cracks unfolded before my eyes. Wrinkles on the mountains face gave it’s age away. Millions or maybe billion years since the formation of Earth.

Began my final climb. Was hoping to make it to the summit by the end of day so tomorrow I can start with a downhill. Walked tedious steep slopes for kms, I started to fall back behind my target. Spotted a perfect camping spot in midst of wrinked canyon, but I still got 1.5 hours of daylight to continue on. I really wanted to finish the climb which was 4 km away. I moved on, in search for better pasture. Just as in love, you might have found the perfect girl but you are too young to settle down, wanted to go on further. A case of right place but wrong time. That is my love life, same goes for my skate.

A km before the summit by 5.30 pm, I spotted a nice spot. Hidden off the highway, surrounded by thorny plants and rocky ground, it is evident no cars will bother to detour here. Set my bivy behind a thorny bush as shelter from wind. Rocky ground was too impenetrable to be pegged thus I tied bivy to longboard and pushie on both ends like how I did in Salar.

Hopefully after the summit tomorrow, I can cover more ground with long continuous descent to 500 m altitude. But then there is always a fine print.

Day 571: Salt Skate

Date of entry: 5 September 2018

Day 571: Salt Skate

Bolivia: Salar de Uyuni to Uyuni

Distance: 30.9 km

Time on board: 3 hours 4 minutes

Average speed: 10 kmh

Ascent: 48 m. Descent: 26 m

Cumulative distance: 18,992.8 km

Best camping night ever. Star grazing all night. Stars surrounded the sky 360 degrees like we are inside a snow globe. The stars viewing us from above or we viewing them from below? The temperature plummeted below -10 degree Celsius, had to sleep in 2 sleeping bags. You can call me extravagant, but 2 sleeping bags was necessary to prevent me from turning to ice.

Surprisingly, nothing iced out in the morning except my water bank which froze and my toothpaste I left outside. No cleaning teeth today.

Returned back to the smoother salt path for skating. Returning back was much simpler affair. Didn’t venture much further into the abyss of the Salar, I could still see the mountain behind Colchani town and the sun is up above the town. Thus followed the mountain and sun for navigation. Skating the smoother salt path, though bumpy, could still manage 10 kmh.

Quoted from Wikipedia

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, at 10,582 square kilometers.

The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50% to 70% of the world’s known lithium reserves, which is in the process of being extracted. The large area, clear skies, and exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites

Played around with more fun shots and videos in Salar. More shrinking photos. To achieve this effect, I have to set my timer to 10 secs and sprint like crazy. Imagine retaking shots after shots, sprint after sprint, I can train to be next Usain bolt. Maybe this is how the Jamaicans train.

Exited the Salar after 7 km of skating in salt. The entrance was flooded with puddles, making salt path slushy. My pushie got stuck in the salt slush. Instead of Quick Sand, I am stuck in Quick Salt. Now my shoes were wet and salty. Realise the puddles create a mirror reflection effect. Experimented with all varieties of photos to come up with the near perfect one.

Have to bid farewell to this magical land. Magic does exist. The remaining 5 km back to colchani was just walkimg. Attempted to skate but the off road was much tougher than the compact salt. By the time, I got back to colchani, it was time to grab lunch. As I ate my lunch, tourists and drivers were curious by my pushie and longboard. Yes, I did skate few km across the Salar, what an amazing feat I must say. Honestly, I should attempt a skate across the Salar to one of its island 70 km if I knew there is a compact salt path for me.

Back on highway, 20 km to Uyuni was easy and quick. Last final skate in Altiplano. Despite the cold climate and arduous climb, I really enjoyed the skate through the flat Altiplano. Vast emptiness and wilderness clear your thoughts. Upon arrival at the dusty town, stayed at Piedras blanca hostel, one of the best looking hostel in south America. It’s European style hostel interior awed me. Of course, at 11 USD, way expensive compared to Bolivian standard. 5 days of camping in the wild, I could enjoy a hot shower and comfort.

Upon arrival at Hostel, immediately I turned on the WiFi. Having no connection for 5 days, the moment I got connected to the virtual world, was bombarded by social media notifications. These 5 days without any connections to the virtual world or the outside world, I solely connected to real world, to the locals, the nature sights around me. Not saying that the virtual world is all bad, it helped me to connect to my family thousands of km and friends whom I never met in real life yet followed my adventure.

From Uyuni, there lies several options for me. Take bus to Tarija cos much of highway onwards is still unpaved and skate down to Argentina or Paraguay. Or skate to Potosi then grab a bus to Santa Cruz and bus to Paraguay. Will spend couple days considering my option.

Day 570: Skating Salar, World’s largest salt flats

Date of entry: 4 September 2018

Day 570: Skating Salar, World’s largest salt flats

Bolivia: 133 km highway 30 to Salar de Uyuni

Distance: 50.4 km

Time on board: 5 hours

Average speed: 10 kmh

Ascent: 107 m. Descent: 243 m

Cumulative distance: 18, 961.9 km

Surprisingly, my bivy never iced out in the morning. Unusually warm morning. Since only 40 km to colchani, the gateway town to Salar de Uyuni, woke up late and set off at 9 am. Didn’t have my usual western bread as it wasn’t available in small towns. Instead, I got the Bolivian bread, round in shape and way cheaper. 0.5 USD for 6 pieces. I will switch to these from now on.

Started with a descent. Few tiny climbs and mostly flat. The wind began work unusually early. Faced the blunt of a howling crosswind. Nothing esle will obstruct me from visiting Salar de Uyuni, the wonders of natural world.

Leisurely skating, targeted to arrive in colchani for lunch. 16 km before Salar, at Mirador, I was greeted by a sea of whiteness over the horizon. The sea of salt spans over horizon, testifying to its sheer vastness. The size of Salar is even larger than some smaller nations, including my tiny Singapore. It can take days to transverse across the entire salt flat. It will be tedious for me to skate on salt paths, thus I am only entering a few km into the salt flat and camp for a night to experience its beauty.

5 km before colchani, met a Brazilian cyclist heading northwards toward Alaska. He camped at Salar last night, the best camping experience ever. I can’t wait to arrive at Salar. Had my lunch at Colchani and replenished my water bank. Since it was the gateway to Salar, tourists gathered there, naturally water cost an exhortation. No choice but to fork out 5 USD for 4 litres.

Had to walk 5 km of washboard dirt path to entrance of Salar. The dirt road was a washboard, pushing my pushie a tedious affair. Even the 4wds have a tough time. I observed lots of 4wds carrying Jerry cans of water and tent equipment on the top, passing me as I strolled. Tour groups visiting and camping there. Why pay 100 USD for a tour where you can do it for free like me. One 4wd driver returning to Uyuni, handed me 2 slices of Apple pie. He asked me Where am I heading in Salar? There is an excellent question. It is so vast, I can camp anywhere in the flats.

Continuing to walk on the salt flat, there is no road, everywhere is a path. The bumpy salt tracks driven by cars everywhere was impossible for me to skate. Only certain paths I can barely manage to skate. Since there was no roads, and my phone doesn’t have any compass, I could be walking in circles and lost in the vastness of Salar. Without any bearing to determine which direction I am heading, all I know is to walk away from Colchani town behind me. Aim is to get to Dakar momentum of Flags, 7 km away. The salt flat is so flat and I can see a structure miles away. Reckon that must be Dakar momentum. According to my GPS on my phone, it seemed I am heading that direction. On a smooth path, I could skate 10 kmh on a Salt path. Have to be cautious, the salt path is quite slippery. Along the way, had some fun posing photos. A traditional bare naked nude shot must be taken as mandated by travellers. Striped down to my birthday suit with my board covering my ahem. Also, cliche “I shrunk my pushie and longboard shot” There isn’t any thing to reference on horizon, I can either shrunk or enlarge myself on the backdrop.

Arrived at Dakar momentum of Flags. Surprisingly there is my Singapore flag. Getting late, searched for a camp spot. But everywhere is a camp spot. Too many choices can be daunting as well. Issue is there is no road, cars can drive anywhere. Hopefully they don’t run over me during the night. Set bivy. The ground was too hard to stake my peg thus I tied my bivy to my pushie and longboard on both ends to secure it. Cooked instant noodles for a change. Warm soupy noodles for freezing night is a perfect choice. When lights were off, Admire another vastness from above. The milky way galaxy. We are a tiny speck of life in the grand scale of Salar de Uyuni. Even then the Salar pales in comparison to the grand milky way. Couldn’t venture far enough from city lights to get that picturesque bright picture of the milky way but I am contented to enjoy the faint spectre of milky way. What an amazing night to end my skate in the Andes region.

Day 568: Follow Salty Road

Date of entry: 2nd September 2018

Day 568: Follow Salty Road

Bolivia: Pazna to Sevaruyo

Distance: 90 km

Time on board: 7 hours 23 minutes

Average speed: 12.2 km

Ascent: 154 m. Descent: 115 m

Cumulative distance: 18, 831 km

Abandoned house is another great spot to camp. I can attest to this. Woke up to calm windless morning yet cold. Had to put on all my layers. Initial 30 km, there was hardly any wind. Good omen. Hardly see any traffic on the highway. Oh, today is Sunday. I literally count the number of cars going past me with one hand. Today, I ruled the road. King of the highway. Disregarded the shoulder lane and dominated the entire lane to myself. I love Sunday. Or it no one drives this highway? Who knows. Cherish the present. Whatever future holds, nobody knows.

The white field blinded me, my head hung low to avoid the white glaring fields. I wonder what are these white snowy fields. They can’t be snow and frost as it wasn’t that freezing. I am approaching the salt flat, could it be another salt flat. Even upon closer inspection, I couldn’t determine what are these. Anyway , I just have to follow the white fields all the way to Uyuni, it can’t go wrong. Follow the salty road.

Can’t help but notice every small town or community has a brand new State of the art Football pitch. The football pitch were made of Astro turf, expensive artificial grass. I know Bolivians are crazy about football, they rather spend precious money on building costly football field than to upgrade their town or village’s infrastructure. My country Singapore talk about qualifying for world cup eons ago but no effort being done to promote the sport. Our football pitch pales in comparison to Bolivia’s even though Singapore is ranked among the richest nations in the world, whereas Bolivia is ranked among the poorest. I guess that is why Singapore is rich and Bolivia so poor cos we are frugal in our spending, rather than wasting precious taxpayers money on useless things like promoting football. Singapore can never qualify for world cup until we prioritize it over economic progress. At least Bolivian villagers can enjoy playing on the best facilities that we can only envy.

One of major reason is why Bolivia have such expensive football fields is due to Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, who is an avid football fan. One name that keep popping in Bolivia through banners, posters, graffiti is Evo Morales. Better known as Evo, he is Bolivia’s first Indigenous president. After 200 years of independence from Spaniards, they only elect a president from indigenous Aymara in 2006. After all, majority over 60% of Bolivians are indigenous. Wonder what took them to elect an indigenous local despite the vast majority. Is it oppression from European stock Bolivians like the White-held apartheid in South Africa? Or is it only now an excellent candidate from indigenous side appeared like Nelson Mandela? I don’t know. But I do know Evo is a self described Socialist. Socialist isn’t a bad thing as the Americans will claim. Evo brought much needed equality to the poorer class. It is all evident from my skate through the countryside. I can see modern infrastructure being constructed in villages and remote towns. School with modern infrastructures and better road conditions, overhead bridges in the highway connecting the villages. The bridge part I felt was redundant. I hardly see anyone crossing the overhead bridge since it was more convenient to just walk across the highway when there is no traffic unless there was a barrier placed separating the highway. Evo is one example of how socialism can do good. Don’t follow Venezuela’s example. Venezuela failure is not cos of Socialism, is due to bad leadership.

Had early lunch at 11 am at Challapata, 36 km. I wasn’t sure if there is any town ahead with eatery, thus better grab the opportunity to have lunch in Challapata. Challapata was also the cross point where I decide either to continue my way to Uyuni, the salt flats or change course to Potosi. I do know road to Potosi will be paved as my 3 predecessors “Long treks on skate decks” skated all the way to Potosi. This was the point where I differed my route from them. Chose to skate to Uyuni from here. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flats, one of the natural wonders of the world. How can I miss the opportunity to skate the salt flats or at least pose for photos. The long treks on skate decks missed on skating to Uyuni because decade ago, there wasn’t any paved road. But now, thanks to Evo Morales, the road is paved.

It was Sunday , most restaurants in Challapata were closed. Fortunately, there were roadside stalls. The ingenious Bolivians carry their stove and utensils and cooked food on the wheelbarrow or pushcarts. This way, they can operate food stalls everywhere and cheaply. 10 soles for lunch set.

11.30 am and continued my way. After lunch, the wind intensified. Maybe the wind too got energetic after lunch as I do. All the way to Huari, was gradual incline, not too daunting for me, only irritating slow for me with the crosswind. 3 km after Huari came the descent. But it was too gradual for me to make difference against the cross wind. The crosswind soon transformed into full on headwind as the highway changed direction to suit the mountains. Last 25 km was a tormenting headwind. I dug my head low like an ostrich and push on. 5 kicks on one side before allowing it to coast then alternate to 5 kicks on other leg. Ignoring the speedometer on my Garmin and magnificent landscapes surrounding me, I totally focused on beating the headwind with my head hung low. Breathing through my mouth and concentrating on my kicks.

Taking snack breaks every 10 km. I am not letting nature dictate my course nor allowing nature to triumph over me. I can’t fix nature to suit me, I can only adapt. Adapt I did. By 5 pm and 90 km, arrived at Sevaruyo, dusty wild west town. With headwind like this, finding accommodation is a better option than camping. Exited the highway and entered the dirt path. Pushed my pushie through the town in search of Alojamiento. In Peru and Colombia, they called cheap accommodation Hospedeje. Here in Bolivia, it is Alojamiento. Even though these countries are Hispanic speaking, but the terms they used are completely different. That is one thing I have to adjust whichever country I been to.

Asked around for an Alojamiento, quite mouthful for me to pronunciate. A girl led me to one. The sign was tattered and torn. No wonder I can’t find the Alojamiento, the sign wasn’t there. Got a bed for 20 Bolivianos or 3 USD, without shower or WiFi. Good enough for me, away from terrifying wind will suffice.

The main reason for me to stay in Alojamiento is that I can filter the tap water for drinking and cooking. However, the tap water was murky. I dare not to filter the tap water for drinking. No way, I am drinking the murky water though it could be safe after filtering. Instead I bought bottles of water, wasting plastic again. Safety prevails over environmental concerns. Had hearty dinner where I chatted with the restaurant owners. 3 generations from grandmother to grand daughter sat down to hear my story. I simply handed them my phone and showed them all my Instagram photos while I ate my dinner. Leaving them to play around with my phone and letting them questioning me.

Please tailwind, come to me tomorrow. I beg of you.

Day 567: Wind of Altiplano

Date of entry: 1 September 2018

Day 567: Wind of Altiplano

Bolivia: Oruro to Pazna

Distance: 80.8 km

Time on board: 6 hours 59 minutes

Average speed: 11.6 kmh

Ascent: 300m. Descent: 292 m

Cumulative distance: 18, 741 km

Happy Teachers’ day. Second year since I left my teaching career to skate around the world. Took a rest day in Oruro doing absolutely nothing except for watching YouTube videos and eating. Sometimes it is good to do absolutely nothing.

Hostel’s breakfast begins at 8 am, couldn’t wait that long to have breakfast. Woke up early 7 am, took my last hot shower. 4 days to Salar de Uyuni, world’s largest salt flat, thus 5 days of no shower. Set off at 8.15 am. My hostel is right beside the main road leading to the highway 1, thus no issues navigating out of the city. Traffic was mild, but road was atrocious with uneven and rough surface plus countless traffic lights. Took me quite a while to get out of the city.

Highway 1 before Oruro, I had smooth shoulder lane, once after Oruro, I am left with a tiny miserable rough shoulder lane. Didn’t bother, skated on main lane, letting the traffic whizz past me. Passed through several mining towns, seemed to gone past their glory days. Rusty signs displaying barely visible writings of town name. Derelict windmill, a relic of the past. The whole scenery resembled the wild West. Bolivia version of wild wild West. Long stretch of straight road. So straight that I could see the horizon 20 km away. Meant I watched the same scenery for kms. On my right, the wind stirred up sand hundred metres high, creating a sand storm awaiting to blast me.

Supposed to be plain sailing day, turned out to be another nightmare. Altiplano is basically high flat plateau, that means no natural barriers to slow the wind across the plains. The wind have the license to dash across the empty plains like speeding bullet without anything to stop it. The wind rules the Altiplano. Today, the wind is not in my favour, against my odds. Cross wind races from my right to left. No traffic to deflect the wind, as I was riding on my right. I had to bear full blunt of the headwind the entire day. By noon, made it 45 km, thanks to windless early morning. There wasn’t any restaurant in the tiny town. Attempted to cook a simple lunch by the roadside but with the wind like this, it was impossible to set a fire. Even if I could ignite my stove, the sand blown by the wind would be my additional ingredient for lunch. Not interested in having sand for lunch. Further 11 km, there was a town Poopo. Poopo sound like poop. Did someone poop on the town before. It was relatively large town with amenities. I should find a restaurant there. Delayed my hunger, and persisted on for another 11 km, which in this windy condition, meant a hour of skate. Another thing I learnt was never pee in the direction of the wind, let just say it turn out messy and wet.

Poopo was known for its hot spring, but I wasn’t interested in hot spring in these weather condition. Lunch was the utmost priority. 10 soles for full lunch menu with soap, main course and a drink. Once my stomach was satisfied, continued on the next 26 km. The wind intensified, blowing harder than before. The midday sun fuelled it’s strength. I struggled with 8- 11 kmh. Back to the day at Baja California, where the cross wind tormented me and my French cyclists Oceanie and David. I don’t know which is worse. This or the Baja California one. What do I know is that wind in Salar de Uyuni will have the same intensity or even stronger. Brace myself.

Prior to entering Pazna, thick fog or mist blown by the wind, covered the landscape. I couldn’t see what is ahead less than hundred metres. Prayed for vehicles to spot me in the fog. They slowed down when approaching the fog. Arrived at Pazna. The first building I spotted was Termales or indoor hot spring. For 5 Bolivianos, less than 1 USD, I could enjoy a hot bath. I better find accommodation in the town first before returning for a comfortable bath after a tough day. The only hostal in town, marked by a 3 star facade was locked. Went into the town centre to try my luck but to no avail. No hostal in this god damn town. Skated further in search for a church. At the edge of the town, there lies a house in the process of being constructed. The whole brick structure was already laid, without any doors or windows but it seemed there wasn’t any construction works going for some time. Piles of garbage littered the house. I just needed a place, sheltered from the raging wind. This is the perfect spot. Once I slept in an abandoned building like this in Bohol, Philippines with Gary, another Filipino long distance skater. That was years ago. Today, this was the first time I camped in an abandoned building in this world tour.

Tomorrow, I would like order a tailwind. Thanks Pachamama.

Day 565: Carnival Capital, Oruro

Day 565: Carnival Capital, Oruro

Bolivia: Quemalla to Oruro

Distance: 47.5 km

Time on board: 3 hours 43 minutes

Average speed: 12.8 kmh

Ascent: 31 m. Descent: 140 m

Cumulative distance: 18,660.2 km

Woke up extra early to get out before the school commenced for the day. Don’t want school children to peek into the classroom and shocked to see a weird Asian man sleeping in their classroom, albeit it is already abandoned. You might have an image of third world classrooms to be run down and children having to sit down in mud floors due to insufficient desks and chairs. Well, you will be disappointed. I took a peek at their classroom. It is more modern than you might expect of a developing nation. Clean, whiteboard and markers, computer lab for students. This school is not even in a big city, just a small village. Bolivia is investing big in education. Who says developing nations can’t have proper education facilities. School on outside look like new and modern.

Being in the education sector for ages, I actually never had the opportunity to sleep in a school. Almost 2 years into my world tour, it is only yesterday that I camp in a school compound. Felt weird sleeping in a place that I have worked for a decade. Does feel a kind of strange, reminiscing the days where I taught my special students.

The road to Oruro is super flat. I thought I could easily arrive before 11 am. At first, I was charging at average 15 kmh, somehow, my pace gradually decreased. No, I checked that I am not on an incline. Then it must be a headwind. To prove my suspicion, I plucked a strain of grass and let it drop to the ground. Indeed, it was a cross diagonal wind, not in my favour. It wasn’t evident as the grass on the field weren’t swaying from the wind blowing. Only when I pushed faster, then I can feel wind gaining momentum, creating more resistance. I slowed my pace to suit the wind condition. Honestly speaking, this wind wasn’t that strong. I dread the days to come when the infamous Patagonia wind is not in my favour.

As I approached Oruro’s city outer, shanty towns became prominent. Tiny brick houses with zinc roof, smaller than my bedroom in Singapore, littered along the highway. I suppose it is their form of cheap housings.

Hoping to get into the city quickly, so the buildings can act as a barrier to the wind tormenting me for the half day. Oruro is an industrial city, but comes to February and March, the city transforms into a massive carnival. It gains the reputation of Party Capital to rival the carnival in Rio, Brazil. As I entered the Oruro, fancy artworks and art installation decorated the streets. An interesting city to explore. Check in Hostal Graciela by noon for 56 soles. Expensive by my standard but I like the vibe of the hostel.

Day 564: Camping in School

Date of Entry: 29 August 2018

Day 564: Camping in School

Bolivia: Ayo Ayo to Quemalla

Distance: 97.7 km

Time on board: 6 hours 58 minutes

Average speed: 14 kmh

Ascent: 435 m. Descent: 413 m

Cumulative distance: 18,612.7 km

Foggy morning. Made hot tea to warm myself with peanut butter sandwich. Father Francisco had to leave for La Paz. We walked off together out to the highway. I crossed the bridge back to the other side to continued my way. Without chaotic traffic of la Paz, I easily made good pace. Trying to skate far as possible as I can thus tomorrow I will have lesser distance to cover to Oruro, famous for carnival and party.

The sun was kidnapped by the evil clouds. I had to wear all my layers and skate. Mostly flat, accompanied by series of rolling hills. Some long ascent but easily skateable at 10 kmh. Followed by few descents. The scenery was as usual spectacular but being in the Andes for so long, I sort of got used to it, may be even bored. Nothing much to interest me. When you keep getting good stuff, you too will get bored of it one day.

By 11 am, reached Sica Sica where the church was known to be the 2nd oldest in Bolivia. I wonder where is the oldest church then. Too lazy to push pushie and longboard across the road to the other side of town where the church is located, I left my pushie and longboard in front of the police station. Leave everything behind to visit the church. This is how much I trust south Americans. I dare to do that in small towns where people are more trustworthy, but not in big cities of course. Normally in Hispanic era, towns are built around church. Most likely, this town is as old as the church. Even the ancient tree towering in front of the church is 500 years old. Contemplated having lunch in Sica Sica. Opted not to since there is another town, 9 km and all downhill which probably have eateries. Push on further. I was right. Lahuachaca was much bigger town with street stalls lining up by the highway. In Peru, for around 1.50 USD, I can have full set course, Pasta Soap, Main course and drink. Here in Bolivia, for same price, I am getting a bland soup and no drinks. I miss Peru now.

Have to walk through the busy street market, impossible to skate through. As soon as I walked, I gathered interest from locals. An elderly stall owner gave me a cup of jelly. I wanted to pay for it. He insisted not. The cup of jelly is probably cost less than 0.50 usd, which is nothing to me and a lot to him. Yet he gave it to me for free.

I can’t help but notice the amount of rubbish discarded by the highway. The fields were littered with rubbish. Peru, in comparison to Bolivia, would be considered as sparkly clean. Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in South America, couldn’t afford proper waste management system. I guess when you are hungry and starving, why bothers about saving environment. As I reiterated again, how to have future, when you can’t live through the present. Developed countries have the responsibility to aid these countries to better manage their environment and educate the population. Then again, there are developing countries who actually took steps. Rwanda banned plastic bags throughout the entire country. As result, Rwanda resembled my country Singapore, known as a clean and green city. I supposed even developing countries like Bolivia can do something on their own.

Marked several possible camping spots through the road. Set cutoff time to end the day and set camp by 5ish pm. Spotted three cyclists on other direction. They were heading the wrong way. They were supposed to follow me. Couldn’t stop to chat as the highway was barricaded. Impossible to cross over to have a chat. By 4.45 pm, clocked 97 km at town Quemalla. I look further upon the horizon, the dark clouds looming doesn’t look appealing to me for camping. I crossed over to the town. The football field was too open for wind to ravage through the night. Not a good choice. I sought to ask a school. At first, teacher was reluctant, he thought it was dangerous. Nah, danger, you don’t know. He relented after I asked if I can sleep in an abandoned derelict classroom. The floor was littered with shattered glass and smashed windows. Obviously, this classroom was abandoned, perfect for me. I just need a shelter from ravaging wind during the night. I realised why i am so fast today, it is the tailwind. Massive tailwind, no wonder, skating up the ascent seem relatively easy. Please, Pachamama, or Mother Earth in local Bolivian tradition, keep it that way. Tomorrow only 50 km to Oruro. With tailwind like this, I will reach before lunch.

Day 563: The Peace is Chaos

Date of Entry: 28 August 2018

Day 563: The Peace is Chaos

Bolivia: La Paz to Ayo Ayo

Distance: 71.5 km

Time on board: 5 hours 47 minutes

Average speed: 12.4 kmh

Ascent: 294 m. Descent: 467 m

Cumulative distance: 18,515 km

La Paz translate to peace. However, it doesn’t resemble any peace at all. I will explain it all later.

La Paz is shaped like an inverted cone pyramid. The hierarchy of class and wealth is also inverted. As you travel further down the city, buildings becomes fancier and stylish. Locals living at the bottom are wealthier as well. The disparity of wealth is evident. The poor lives on the top of the city like the favelas. The wealth is all concentrated at the bottom tip. You can say the money travels down the cone.

During the 4 days rest in la Paz, visited the Valle de Luna or the moon valley. Petrified forest of rocks eroded over millions of years to form spiked columns of rock over the valley. You don’t have to fly to moon, you just have to visit the moon valley, a nature’s gift.

Another highlight of la Paz is the cholitas Wrestling. Female wrestlers dressed in traditional costume and bow hats, fight it all out in the ring. This is the Bolivian version of WWE or Mexico’s Lucha Libre. Obviously, this was all staged to entertain the crowd. At least they could attempt to change the narrative. The referee would always side with a wrestler and even ganged up together against the “protagonist”. Against all odds, the protagonist somehow managed to win the fight against the bad guys. I then realised this is the narrative of poor underdog against the rich. The referee represent the authorities while the antagonist represent the elite class. The protagonist represent the poor population. No wonder, the local crowd never fail to get bored watching the same story over and over again, cos it represents their struggle against the corrupted authority and elites, they too one day hope to prevail. Unlike the wrestling match, in reality, they never win.

La Paz streets is all steep ascent or descent depending on whichever direction you are heading. Heading to city downtown is all descent. Heading back to hostel is exhausting walk up. Hardly see any traffic lights except the elite city centre. People generally walk on the road, while cars made their own regulations. Order in midst of Chaos.

La Paz doesn’t live to its namesake The Peace. It is utter chaos. Well, many cities don’t really live to their namesake. Example, Buena Aires translate to Good wind but it is opposite. Same goes for Cape of Good Hope. You get the picture.

I am not going to climb up the steep ascent out of la Paz. Since I entered la Paz by cable car or Teleferico, I exited by the same way. The Teleferico staff were understanding and accommodated me. They got me an empty cable car and retrofitted the seats so that I can enter with my pushie.

Back to El Alto at 4000 m. The traffic is utter chaos. Congested with Mini Vans. Mini Vans, transporting commuters across the city, joustled for every inch on the road. I skated in between lanes. Sometimes there isn’t any gap for me to squeeze past. Once, I scratched against a van when I underestimated the gap to pass through. My pushie scratched the surface of the van. Obviously, The driver was pissed. Happened to have a police officer around. I explained, “you guys don’t give me any road to skate, pedestrian walkway were also congested. How am I supposed to get out of this god damn place.” Of course they don’t understand my English. Since I am a tourist, they let me off with a warning. To combat the frequency of road accidents, every traffic crossing have ladies dressed in Zebra onesie to guide the pedestrians and vehicles. Preventing them from massacring each other.

Skated with utter caution on the congested highway, trying to survive and not die. One of the worst city I have skated out. Tempted to grab a taxi to get me out of the city but with the congestion, I think I am faster than taxi. After 15 km, I finally exited the city. Traffic trickled down and smooth shoulder lane appeared. As if like it represents the rainbow to me. Rainbow after the chaos. Bought a brunch of Bananas from a stall market.

Lots of time spent exiting out of the city, only clocked a mere 25 km by 11 am. I observed most towns I passed, there isn’t any restaurants or hotel. Unlike in Bolivia, even the small towns in Peru have restaurant and hostals. Look like I am keeping my wallet tight, not that I want to save, there isn’t any place for me to spend. Have to carry more food for cooking. Thus grab any opportunity for lunch whenever I spotted an eatery close to lunchtime. Early lunch at 11 am by an open air roadside stall. 13 Bolivianos or almost 2 USD for soap and main. Course. Rather expensive by Peru standard.

Planned to skate as far as I can for today and tomorrow. Thus the 3rd day I can have shorter distance to Oruro, the city for pit stop. I noticed the dark clouds are parallel to me. Going to be a huge storm. The storm clouds were trailing me. Oh no, wet and cold is a recipe for disaster. Skated as fast as I possibly can but the storm cloud was too fast and large for me. Either I Uturn back to get away from it or continue on, in hope it will be over by the time I finish. My policy is to never turn back thus I head on. Into the rain. Felt droplets falling onto me. Rain intensified. Oh dear, I am going to die of hypothermia in Bolivia. Surrounding me was vast farmland without any shelter. As I started to lose hope and accept my doomed fate, I spotted a shop with shelter. Seek refuge in the shelter. There were bunch of school children seeking refuge from the rain as well. Chatted with them. This Town Ayo Ayo doesn’t have any hostal or restaurant. Basically a dead town to me. Waited till the storm cloud passed over me. No point skating further to seek camp as the ground would be wet and I don’t want to skate on wet road cos my feet would be wet. Not in this wet cold freezing temperature where the nightfall temperature plummet below zero. Crossed the bridge to enter the town. Indeed, there isn’t any hostal. I tried my luck at main square. I asked a man standing at a door next to the church. He turned out to be the Priest of the church. No accommodation in this town but I am welcome to sleep inside the church ground. That is great. Father Francisco gave me the church corridor to sleep. Good enough as long as I am sheltered from the cold. Cooked my Aglio Olio dinner and shared it with Father Francisco.

There may be Chaos all around you, but as long you find peace in your heart, that is sufficient.