Day 67 – La Paz to Arica

Ok – this was probably the most eventful day so far.
Started out of La Paz OK – we saw Jorge, an Argentinean on an old (1979) Kawasaki 660 – he’s on his way back from a “short” ride from Buenos Aires to Machu Picchu and back.
Gas was hard to find on the way out – we wanted at least 90 octane fuel and to pay with a credit card – yeah right! Settled for 84 octane and paid in US dollars at a bad exchange rate.
The GPS was routing us back through Peru and when it finally found a route through Bolivia to Chile it was not showing the roads we were actually traveling on.
I then almost ran out of gas getting to the Bolivian border, which was very easy.
The Chilean border was further down the road and probably the most scenic border you’ll ever see.
We arrived along with a big bus full of people… and got into the line that they were standing on.
Turns out we had to get a piece of paper from office number 1 who told us to go to immigration – house number 3 – who told us to go to customs – house with no number – who told us we were done!
We happily took off noting that there was a 4th step – police – which I assumed was further down the road. I also assumed that house number 2, agriculture and sanitation was for trucks carrying cargo.
15km down the road a check point. It did not look good when the officer called someone and talked to them for a couple of minutes.
We had to go all the way back because we had forgotten to get “a stamp”. Marc asked if we could just do it there but the officer was stern and said that we had to go back – no way of getting through that point without going back.
So we back tracked – a very annoying thing to do on a trip – and got back to the border where we were told that we had not completed house number 2 nor house number 4 – we fled the scene – and that was VERY serious.
I explained that we were told that we were done and police check points usually are further down the road from the border.
He didn’t really care and said that we would have to appear in court in Arica so that a judge could decide what course of action to take with us. I continued arguing that it was an honest mistake and that we had no intention of not following their procedures but the officer was
unmoved and started writing up our summons.
Another guy was being booked for having a mango in his car – he also had forgotten he had it – and was going to have to show up in court on the following day (Monday).
“Wait, isn’t Monday a national holiday!?” said one of the officers.
So now not only we had to show up in court, we would have to stay an extra day in Arica to go to court on Tuesday!! I insisted in trying to make the problem go away right there to no avail. The officer filled out what seemed like 10 forms and instructed us to go to Arica and appear in court on Tuesday – so we’re stuck in Arica on Monday – a Chilean national holiday – waiting for our court appearance on Tuesday 10am!
After making sure we had completed all the required steps we were finally riding in Chile – and a beautiful one I must add.
Halfway down the road we stopped at this small “complex” where you could get fresh juices, lodge, camp, go on archeological tours and even do astronomy at night. We walk in to find a Canadian girl and four children eating at a table watching TV through a PowerPC
Macintosh computer. The “man of the house” was baking some bread. We were welcomed and got some juice and a sandwich. We were told that all the electricity comes from solar panels and wind powered generators.
Very interesting place.
Further down the road, 40km or 1/2 hour to get to Arica I start feeling my rear a little wobbly. I kept on thinking in was merely psychological but at one point I stopped an my fears were confirmed…
A FLAT tire!!!
I proceeded to remove the wheel from the bike and getting to the inner tube when some bikes stopped by to see if we needed help. At that point things were looking good buy we gladly accepted one of the guys help to remove the tire from the rim. They soon left and we were left
there with the task of replacing the bad tube with the spare I was carrying.
I’ve changed plenty of bicycle tires before but a motorcycle tire is an entirely new ball game. The amount of strength you have to put on it to place the tire back onto the rim is pretty awesome.
I couldn’t believe that the tire would simply plop back on to its proper position once you inflated the tube – which we were trying to do with an electrical compressor connected to the bike’s battery. It did not look promising because of the rate at which the compressor was
filling up the tire and because of the position of the wheel on the rim.
So I removed the tire from the wheel again and started it all over thinking I had done something wrong.
Turns out I was doing everything correctly… but the spare tube I had was either damaged as well or I damaged it in the haste of putting it back into the rim!!
So we were stuck in the middle of the road with no way of fixing it there on the spot.
I crossed the road and went up to a couple that was talking in front of a parked truck. Turns out they were having a fight or a big talk – they were both crying! So I diverted to talk to some other people to see if they had a cell phone so that I could call one of the guys who had stopped previously.
“Sure but there is no cell phone coverage here!”
Back on the bike Marc had pulled out the satellite phone! Perfect! 
Not so… we kept on getting invalid number… 
The sun set and it got dark…
Plan B – put the wheel back on the bike and push it to the other side of the road and leave it there for the night – next morning we would come with new tubes and a mechanic to help us out. 
As we were waiting to cross the road 2 motorcyclists and a car stop to see what happened… 
“Wait here – I am going to get my pick up truck and we’ll take the motorcycle into Arica!”
HA!!! 5 seconds later they would have missed us!
20 minutes later we put my motorcycle on the back of his truck and he takes us to his house – well – his garage – which had about 20 cars and some motorcycles and a bunch of people helping out. 
“Leave the bike there for the night and tomorrow we’ll deal with it. Take a car so that you can take your stuff to the hotel and that can drive around – or do you want to take a motorcycle?”
I settled for the Mercedes (M-class) where I put all of my gear and then proceeded to follow him on his truck and his son on another car to the hotel. Marc followed us on his bike.
At a gas station Marc and I just laughed at the whole situation – this day was getting more interesting by the minute. 
At the hotel Carlos negotiated a special deal for us and told us that he would stop by in one hour to take us out for dinner! 
11:30 we hop back onto my new ride and follow his son who came pick us up on his car. 
We arrive at the restaurant – probably the only one in town open so late on a Sunday night – and wait a little for Carlos to arrive. 
Turns out Carlos did a motorcycle trip to Brazil when he was 21 – 4 months on the road as well – so he understood our pain. 
As the conversation went on we told him that I needed new break pads and that Marc needed a new visor for his German helmet – both hard to find parts in this area. 
No problem! They whipped out their cell phones and started making calls. A friend of theirs races KTMs and is going to find these parts on Tuesday morning and take them to the airport so that they arrive in Arica Tuesday early afternoon!!
We tried to pay the bill but his influence over the waiters was greater than ours and even though Marc had given them his credit card at some point during dinner, Carlo ordered the waiter to not take it and paid for dinner as well!
WOW – what a day and how lucky we were to have run into them! Endless generosity!

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