Part I. the Big Bolivia Loop
Thanks to the ever-informative community of dual-sport riders at ADVrider.com, I learned that one can indeed purchase a motorcycle in Bolivia for a reasonable price, regardless of your gringo status. Of course, there is a hitch, and in this case it is the fact that it takes a month to get your new motorcycle's license plates after you register the bike. My guess is that Bolivian motorcycle license plates are of such lofty quality that the manufacturing process must include some sort of aging period. Though I certainly appreciate a product that is made with care, in the interest of time I'll have to pass on the añejo and settle for the reposado license plates.
Fortunately, while you wait for the Bolivian bureaucracy to secrete your license plate you are allowed to travel inside the country with the right paperwork and skillful application of grease to palms.
The journey will start in La Paz, the de facto capital of Bolivia and the highest capital city in the world at just under 12,000 ft / 3,657 m.
For those of you back home asking yourselves, yes, I will be giving metric measurements. The rest of the world uses it which means my life will be measured metrically for the duration of my trip. If the sight of metric measurements threatens your freedom-loving American sense of scale, feel free to summon the ghost of Ronald Reagan to haunt me.
From La Paz, my newly-acquired beast and I will meander up and over the eastern side of the Andes, descending into the Bolivian portion of the Amazon rainforest on my way to Trinidad. I'll stay on the green side of Bolivia and head south to Santa Cruz. Between Santa Cruz and Potosí I will navigate the Ruta del Che . This otherwise-forgotten corner of the Earth, between the dense Amazon rainforest on the east and the bone-dry Altiplano on the west, is one of the most remote and poor areas of South America. For that very reason, Dr. Ernesto "Che" Guevara carried out what would be his last revolutionary campaign here. The Ruta del Che passes the sites where he was captured and executed, where his corpse was exhibited to the world, and where he was finally buried.
The Ruta leads to the legendary Salar de Uyuní in Bolivia's southwest corner. This vast brine lake is covered in a crust of salt that creates a perfectly flat, powder-white surface that stretches to the horizon. The result is truly surreal, and I can not wait to see it for myself.
With any luck, I'll press south from the Salar on my way to see the famous lagunas route. I was inspired to include this in my trip by Jay Kannaiyan, whose pictures of the lagunas speak for themselves. This is a truly alien landscape of deserts, mountains, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs, and the famous lagunas known as las joyas altoandinas (jewels of the high Andes).
After that, I will shoot back up to La Paz to pick up my plates and cross into Peru via Lake Titicaca.