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Peregrinations Mexico and Central America on Motorcycle: Open road, open heart, open mind.

Three strikes, you're out!

BOLIVIA | Tuesday, 6 May 2008 | Views [662]

The agriculture around Sorata.

The agriculture around Sorata.

When we left Argentina, virtually the entire country was gridded with strikes. Roads were closed everywhere in protest to the President's new "wealth dispersal" policy. The piqueteros made it very difficult for Kyle and I to leave Cordoba, the center of the web of closures, but we eventually passed into Bolivia, where we believed our problems to be over.

No such luck.

The next strike we encountered was in La Paz. Loaded down with kilos and kilos of woolen goods for friends back home, we lugged it all to the La Paz Post Office to ship it all to the US. But the Post Office was closed, chains hanging from the door handles. The workers were on strike to protest a change in management. The office, through which passed all mail for the entire country, remained closed for two weeks. In the meantime, Kyle and I developed stronger biceps as we hauled around an entire alpaca's worth of wool.

Not two days later we had to deal with another strike. We descended into the lush valley of Sorata for a few days of R&R after the brutality of Huayna Potosi, negotiating landslides and fallen boulders in the micro. Just above the town, we approached a bloqueo. Angry locals, upset about something the provincial mayor was planning, had lain about twenty logs across the road, effectively cutting off transport into the town.

Well, almost effectively. Everyone got out of the micro, walked across the logs, and boarded a new micro on the other side.

We were then strike-free for a few weeks as we reveled in the serenity of Sorata, and later relaxed in Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca. It wasn't until we tried to leave Bolivia that we ran into more trouble, this time caused by Peru. Our bus into Peru stopped at the border, just outside of Copacabana, to get stamped across the frontier. After about half the passengers on the bus had received their exit stamps, a border guard informed us that the road beyond the border was closed all the way to Puno, the next town, about three hours away. I never did find out what those strikers were protesting, but they definitely put a kink in our plans by sending us back to Copacabana for another night.

It was back in town that we felt the effects of yet another strike. We wanted to cook dinner in the hostel kitchen, and were told we couldn't because there was no propane for the stove. Propane in Copa came from the Bolivian lowlands, and the lowlands were-- you guessed it -- on strike. The entire town was suffering from a gas shortange, so we ended up cooking quinoa, fried plantains and potatoes on my camping stove in the hostel courtyard.

I don't want to jinx anything, but we've been in Peru for about 10 days now, and have not yet encountered a Peruvian strike. But I'm sure, if we give it enough time (maybe three more days?) it will happen.

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