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Jul 15, 2012:

To Bolivia

Distance to Date: 5538 km, 3434 miles

Nothing beats the feeling of crossing a border into a new country - uncharted territory, a new stamp in the passport and the feeling of good, old-fashioned progress! Don't misunderstand, we loved Chile and Argentina. The people we met so far have been warm, generous and nothing short of amazing. But after 7 months on the road, it feels so good to be getting just a little farther north.

The journey north of Salta was both beautiful and treacherous. The road that weaved through the mountains was no wider than a bike lane but accomodated traffic in both directions. North of Jujuy, the route widened to form a major highway, but still there was no shoulder for bicycles. The road narrowed again, but traffic remained steady, and we experienced another crash as the bicycle wheel caught the lip of the road while trying to avoid vehicles.

But all that chaos was forgotten the minute we stepped across the border and into another world. Bolivia sits high on a plateau. The air is thin, the food is hearty (and cheap!) and the people are full of smiles. Another adventure begins.

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We pack up to get back on the road again.

Special thanks to the folks of Prisamata Hostal in Salta for sponsoring our visit.

Hana from Sweden really likes our project and feels inspired to do a similar bike trip through South America.

Gloominess clouds the road north of Salta. We didn't travel far on our first day out.

The frosty night leaves its mark on the bike.

Days are warm and we take breaks to enjoy the scenery.

But Tauru keeps eyeing the train tracks across the road. How far north does it go, he wonders.

Christi catches glimpses of vibrant yellow flowers.

Yellow daisies - smiles from heaven.

We camp off the road at nights. Our nightly ritual includes candles (for light), warm drinks and a bag of cookies.

North of Jujuy and about 120 miles south of the Bolivian border, we take a break in Tilcara.

We want to camp somewhere near town; but people keep steering us to a pay-campsite. So, we walk out of town.

We camp off the side of the highway to save money - pinching our pennies for the long haul up north.

We finally reach La Quiaca, the Argentinian border town with Bolivia, after seven months and lots of adventures along with various delays.

Looking back, the sign points to Ushuaia. 5121 km is almost the distance across the US.

Tauru walks the bike across the bridge that separates Argentina and Bolivia.

Bolivia at last!!!

Then the chaos begins. Villazon, the Bolivian border town, is crowded and cluttered. Where do we go?

WIthout a map or any information, we trot along and use whatever Spanish we know to weave through the streets of Villazon.

It's nice to soak in the sights of Villazon.

The columns look Romanesque. The blue sky with puffy clouds is a welcome.

Finding ice cream in the streets is a must-stop and taste.

Excited to be in a new country, we check in to a cheap hotel and celebrate by going out to dinner. For the past seven months, we have only eaten in restaurants a couple of times to minimize costs. But in Bolivia, where a meal is barely $2, it's worth it!

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