8th - 10th November 2003
Having had a disastrous day in La Paz on Friday, chasing the Hoja de Ruta, we ventured back into the city to have a wander and do some Christmas shopping in the markets. The markets were fairly disappointing, and we couldn't find what we wanted; Otavalo in Ecuador had definitely been the best market, with a huge range of offerings, and we regretted not buying more things there.
We popped over to the Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking House to pick up our CD of the photos they took during our ride and Karin informed us that her lawyer had found out that we definitely didn't need a Hoja de Ruta - the guidebook was obviously out of date. We just had to keep hold of our toll tickets as we went through the various Peajes - these would be checked and stamped at police checks. A huge relief.
We spent the next day relaxing at the hotel and enjoying the Hotel Oberland's Sunday BBQ before getting back on the road the following morning.
Heading south on 10th November, we stopped off at the Valle de la Luna in Mallassa to have a walk around the badlands there. The area is fairly small, comprising of canyons and pinnacles of rock eroded by the rain. Lots of interesting cacti, including the one used to make the hallucinogenic cactus juice which can give you flashbacks months or even years after use! There were also a fair few viscachas scurrying around, tyring to get out of the heat no doubt. Although there was no entry fee as such, we were invited to make a voluntary contribution as we entered, and a guy there selling some artisanal goods tagged along as a guide; he was very informative and spent an hour taking us round and explaining the spiritual nature of the area.
The drive south afterwards to Oruro was on fairly good paved roads for most of the way, apart from the odd detour where the road was being repaired - possibly after the roadblocks from a few weeks ago? We checked into our hotel (Hotel Repostero with parking) had some food and a relaxing evening.