A long day was ahead of me. Google told me I had to master a 9 hours drive from Santa Cruz to Cochabamba, without a break. Again I was following the advice of Joakko to take the new road and not the old dirt road which would be going further down south in parallel to one of the national parks in Bolivia. The new road was leading me more towards the North…but also in parallel to the national park. He also made a reservation for me in a hotel in Cochabamba which I was very glad of since it is always a pain in the arse to find a good and affordable accommodation.
I sayed good bye to Jose who brought me back my bike luggage which I left in the bike shop the day before and I hit the road again. The BMW dealer, Jose and Hernan warned me already of corrupt police who likes to stop people for no reason but to ask for an imaginary fine. I kept my fingers crossed that I would not be a victim of the police but had at least a backup plan and knew that I could call people who were able to help me out of situations like this.
As I was starting to drive I did not have to wait too long for the first police check point and 2 cars as well as a motorbike got pulled over in front of me. I was lucky every policemen was already busy with other vehicles and was relieved to simply pass through. This was not the last checkpoint and many more were waiting along the road but again I was very, very lucky that no one stopped me. I just did not reduce the speed and passed confidently. I felt like wearing a camouflage cape, unstoppable 🙂
The first part of the trip was quite boring and nothing special, just a lot of cars and especially trucks which were driving like insane. Sometimes a truck would pass another one on the other side of the road and would be directly driving towards me. One time I had to drive on the emergency lane since the insane truck driver simply did not give a s!*%! andI realised the hierarchy of the vehicles on the road. I was certainly not the road king! Anyways, I took my time and even had a short stop for lunch at a petrol station where I was struggling again with the bureaucratic procedures of the petrol purchase.
The second half of the trip changed my mood significantly and the complete landscape was suddenly changing while dusty sceneries got exchanged for deep and thick jungle forrest. Furthermore, the road started to incline steeply and I could feel the increasing altitude, meter after meter. It was a beautiful ride with lots of curves and an asphalt which was more or less in a good condition, making it almost fun to drive… almost… there was a thunderstorm coming up and it started to rain. I thought for one moment to stop and to get my waterproof clothing on but was willing to take the risk and continued my ride. I was right and it stopped raining after a couple of minutes.
I made a break at a street vendor to get some more water since I was dehydrating a lot during the drive. No wonder with 36 degrees and my full motorbike protection clothes on. I was drinking in average 3-4 litres of water a day, plus one or two beers in the evenings, hehe.
After a while the landscape changed drastically again and instead of green jungle I encountered a beautiful dry mountainous region which is giving the significant character of Cochabamba. After 9 hours I arrived in my hotel, took off my sweaty clothes and enjoyed my well deserved shower of the day.
Joakko was picking me up at 7.45 pm and brought me to the BMW Motorrad Club House where the whole gang is coming together every Wednesday. Besides an amazing BBQ they also enjoyed drinking a lot… I was in good company, lol. Apparently, one had to finish a sweet liquor in one go and had to name the next person to drink. Not only the alcohol was to blame for my hangover the next day but especially the fruits which were inside of the alcoholic drink. Of course, we also had to eat all of them 😀
A long day and amazing evening came to an end and I fell to bed like a drunken sailor.
Struggling to get up the next day, I was planning to take it easy, especially after the excess of yesterday.
I took my camera and my laptop and was trying to find a nice place to have coffee, to watch people and to write on my blog. At least I would be still doing something productive, I thought. After walking around in a rather hip quarter of the town, I went into one of the plenty cafes and bars and ordered a cappuccino.
After listening to some relaxing music for a while, I went back to the hotel to get myself ready to still explore the Christ statue on top of a mountain close by to town. Apparently, it is the tallest Christ in South America and even beats by surprise the one in Rio de Janeiro. As I was just about to leave my room I heard some thunder roaring and suddenly the whole sky was black as I was stepping outside. “Damn, this day will be really just a relaxing one.” I stripped off my motorbike clothes again and just watched a movie for that night. .
Cochabamba is a small town with layed back people, plenty of bars and restaurants which is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges. It was the first time I saw a town in Bolivia without any rubbish laying around and homeless dogs strolling through the streets. Thumbs up for Cochabamba and its amazing people.