Monday, October 29, 2007

many rivers to cross (one too many)

After waiting for the bikes papers to arrive on my name for about 2 weeks, i finnaly launched C'mon pussycat to a new adventure. riding from the high andes mountains (La Paz) to the humid jungle village of Rurrenabake, where the Tuichi river flows and stupid Israeli travelers get lost in the jungle and write best sellers from their story.

taking my biker friend, peter, advice, i took the long and scenic road from Sorata and Mapiri villages.

going down from the Andes was as beautiful as it sounds. curvy dirt roads, in all kind of conditions, catlle crossing the road, river crossings, small villages and lots of dust. the bike took everything with no problem, compensating for my driving mistakes. the road was dry all along and the weather was great aswell. just perfect.

then i arrived to Mapiri. after passing the village i reached a large and flowing river. first it looked like i took a wrong turn and lost the way, but there was no other road, and i had to cross the river. never i had crossed such a deep and fast river, but i had full confidence in my bike, aparently too confident.

i pulled the gas throttle to a steady velocity and started to cross. the river was about 70 meter wide. i reached to the middle of it and BOOM, i hit a rock, and straight away, the bike was completly drown under the water. the current was too strong and it started to carry the bike down stream. for that moment, it was the first time during my trip when i felt that things are going really bad.

i could not move the bike and the water were starting to penetrate the engine and the bags. rapidly, i took off the bags, which were already soaked wet and whighted double as they used to. everything was wet. water went into the engine and there was no chance o start the bike. but first, i had to take it out of the water. no way!!! lets start by lifting it up. it took me 10 long minutes to lift it up agin on its wheels. i looked around, and there was no one around. i was really despaired. the only village around was Mapiri, and that is 20 minutes by bike. the time was 17:00 and the sun was going to sleep pretty soon. i waited for a another 30 long minutes for someone to arrive. and ofcourse, they arrived. 5 cattle walkers and their herd. they helped me take out the bike and a boy from the next village went to call for help.

help arrived with the figure of Jose, the village's only biker. he came and towed me with his small motorbike to his village. we arrived at night time. he gave me a place to sleep in his brother's garage, and i spread all my stuff to dry. damage report: my small camera and my MP4 hard drive (where i store my pictures) were gone. all the books were wet. my pro camera was attached to me, so it was saved.

The village name was Chimate and the population was 350.

now in the morning we had to start working on the bike. we striped it from all the plastic and took off the fuel tank. Jose cleaned the carburator from all the water. he did an excellent job. now the bigest problem is to take the water out of the engine. it was already mixed with the engine's oil and it looked more like a milky paste. we drained the oil, and flipped the bike on its handle bar, to drain any other oil that was left inside. big problem #2, there is no place in the village to buy new oil. not even used oil. now i remembered Peter's comment, saying that you will always find the best mechanics in the smallest town. and he was right.

Jose, went to look for new oil, but when he returned empty handed he had a new idea. he will cook the oil and dehydrate the water from it. at this point i let of my control of the situation and gave him the freedom to be creative. he picked up some fire wood and came back after 2 hours with clean, but a bit burned motor oil. he sayed it will be good enough to ride safely to the next village. after another 4 hours of working and draining, the bike was ready to go again. it was still dripping water from everywhere, but the engine sounded even better than before.

i asked Jose how much he wants for all his services. he didn't know what to say. i helped him. asked him what's his daily income. he tought for a while and sayed 30 Bolivianos, which are 4 US$. i already had a 100 Boliviano bill in my hand. i gave him the bill with a great smile. i told him he was my saviour. he was smiling too.

i started the engine and was about to leave, but then he told me that there is another wider river jut in the exit of the village, but i shouldn't worry too much. there is a "Balsa". "Balsa??" i asked. i didn't know this word, so i assumed it's a ferry. i arrived to the river crossing. the whole village was waitnig for me there. i guess they were looking for some more action. i saw no ferry, neither a boat, and then came the Balsa. five Bamboo sticks attached to each other.

i smiled this time and let the locals do what they have to do. the crossing was smooth.

i rode for an hour to arrive to the next village, Guanay. in the morning i changed the oil and the bike was just like new, even cleaner. it took me 3 days more to reach Rurre. i stopped there for 5 days of complete relaxation.

this picture does not belong to the story, but it makes me laugh.

next destination... The animal refuge of Ambue Ari, near Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia.



Itai said...

I am waiting for the new best seller to arrive: Dudu's advantures in the wild west
Great story!

Anonymous said...

A true adventure. I hope you have some other backup for your pictures. Is the laptop safe??


Anonymous said...

There is no river you can't

Anonymous said...

hey eilon !
honda will never let you down... your trip is increible !!!
Enjoy and take care.

nico el loco said...

pilsen pilsen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
beso nico!